Sunday, 14 December 2014

Muir welcomes North Down Coastal Path changes

After years of campaigning to reform our local by-laws which involved numerous representations to Council and successive Environment Ministers I welcome North Down Borough Council’s measured decision to ensure North Down Coastal Path is a shared route, facilitating a range of users in a responsible manner.

With a Code of Conduct, signage and only appropriate wider and upgraded sections designated for cycling a balanced approach has been found. Based upon respect, courtesy and enforcement of the rules the Coastal Path can remain a jewel in North Down’s crown. I support decision to allow leisurely cycling on the wider sections but a requirement for cyclists to dismount whilst using the more rugged and narrow sections and stipulation that cycling must not be at speed but instead at a leisurely pace. Health and Safety of all users must be paramount and whilst facilitating active lifestyles is vitally important use of bicycle bells and ban on use of motorised scooters or horses on the path is sensible and proportionate.

As someone who loves to run, cycle and walk it remains my aspiration to see the entire North Down Coastal Path upgraded from Groomsport to Belfast providing an amazing Greenway which has potential to boost tourism, improve health of many and provide a sustainable transport alternative between both locations.  Whilst this may involve constructing alternative routes to bypass the more narrow and ecologically rich areas the report provided by Council officers is comprehensive and useful as the new Council plans ahead in terms of investment opportunities. After bringing a previous proposal to obtain such a report I look forward to the new Council using it as a template to explore future improvements to improve North Down’s much loved Coastal Path.

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