Cycling and walking spending by Stormont so low, says MLA
MLAs have questioned why Northern Ireland lags behind on spending to help cyclists and walkers.
Figures presented at Stormont by the transport charity Sustrans show that 2 is spent per person on active travel.
That is a significantly lower spend than in the rest of the UK and in the Republic of Ireland.
The Infrastructure Committee was told that historical "political priorities" in Northern Ireland meant that money was spent elsewhere.
During the hearing, the Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs questioned the Department for Infrastructure's new walking champion Liz Loughran.
He asked her why the amount for Northern Ireland was "so low".
'Stark difference in spending'
The committee heard that in the Republic of Ireland the equivalent active travel spending figure is 66 per head of population, 25 in Scotland, 10 in Wales and spending 7 in England.
委员会获悉，爱尔兰共和国的人均活跃旅游支出为66 GB，苏格兰为25 GB，威尔士为10 GB，英格兰为7 GB。
The Irish government has recently committed a massive spend of 370m (330m) for cycling and walking over the next five years.
The Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson said the differences were "quite stark".
马蒂娜·安德森(Martina Anderson)所在的新芬党(Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson)表示，这种差异“相当明显”
"All of us are quite disappointed when we see the spend per head of the population when you compare the north and south of Ireland," she added.
Ms Loughran said the reason why Northern Ireland's figures were low was because "political priorities over the last 40 to 50 years were towards spending other than active travel".
She told MLAs the department had allocated 3.7m towards greenways and 4m on walking and cycling schemes.
She also said she wanted to encourage the public transport provider Translink to help cyclists who wanted to use the rail network and was interested in a pilot project.
The departmental official said: "Let us try it - if it is a disaster, let us stop it."
Caroline Bloomfield from Sustrans, which campaigns for cyclists and walkers, said she would love to see more bikes being carried on trains.
She added that there were opportunities for councils and the Stormont Executive to work together to help improve active travel.
Ms Loughran also told MLAs that the coronavirus pandemic and the new ways of working presented an opportunity to reassess public transport and how people use the environment.
She said: "We have a real window of opportunity to make sure we don't slip back to the automatic way of doing things."
A spokesperson for the Department for Infrastructure said Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon "is ambitious to bring about change".
"She has established a new 20m capital blue/green infrastructure fund to boost active travel and continues to work with executive colleagues, councils and other partners to help deliver cleaner, greener, sustainable active travel infrastructure across our island."