Cycling ‘greenway’ is ‘golden opportunity’

Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard
Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard

A working group has been established to further plans for a cycling “greenway” between Greeisland and Monkstown, a council committee has heard.

Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard announced in November that Mid and East Antrim Borough Council was successful in its bid to further develop the fitness scheme.

The initiative is being development in response to a Bicycle Strategy for Northern Ireland entitled Changing Gearwhich was issued by the Department of Regional Development in 2015.

The cycling and walking route is most likely to be established along the disused railway line between the two areas.

The vision was that “Northern Ireland would be a community where people have the freedom and confidence to travel by bicycle for every day journeys”.

In October 2015, the council’s Director of Operations and Head of Open Spaces commenced discussions with Sustrans in relation to taking forward cycling within the borough.

Sustrans was engaged last March to develop an overall cycling strategy and to complete a feasibility study for the Borough.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Parks and Open Spaces staff have since met with officers from Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council in order to begin dialogue regarding the Greenisland to Monkstown Greenway proposal and to consider any potential difficulties.

According to Northern Ireland Greenways, development of a ‘Monkstown Greenisland Greenway’ is a “golden opportunity” for the local area.

The organisation’s website - nigreenways.com - says: “The ‘Back Line’ between Monkstown and Greenisland has been dormant for over 50 years, yet the land is still in public ownership.

“Developing a new 2.7 kilometre traffic-free path could provide great options for locals trips without the car, and build upon the success of the recently opened Newtownabbey Way.”