THE Department for Infrastructure has announced a new temporary scheme along Derry’s riverfront to help walkers and cyclists maintain social distancing.
Cycle paths will be expanded into the council office car park and public car park on the Strand road, while additional signage will be erected on the Peace Bridge.
A pop-up cycle lane will also be created along the riverfront from Queen’s Quay Roundabout to Foyleside roundabout.
Announcing further details of the new measures to be implemented in Derry City, Minister Mallon said:
“Last month when I announced the creation of a Walking and Cycling Champion within my Department, I said that I intended to move quickly in making changes on the ground.
“I want us to seize the chance for change with the current reduction in traffic levels and build real momentum.
“I am committed to changing the way we live for the better, providing safe routes that give people the freedom and confidence to walk and cycle as part of their everyday routine
“Pilot schemes have already hit the ground running in Belfast and I am delighted today to take the next step in my plan to trial sustainable, green infrastructure by announcing further details of plans for Derry.
“I have worked with Derry City and Strabane District Council to identify an effective temporary scheme which takes advantage of the Council’s car park and the existing road network to ensure the popular Riverside route can continue to be used safely by pedestrians and cyclists.
“In conjunction with the Council, my Department will implement a series of temporary walking and cycling measures along the Riverfront between the Queen’s Quay Roundabout (near the Council offices) and Foyleside roundabout.
“These measures will begin to be put in place this week and will take 2-3 weeks to complete.
“On Queen’s Quay, we will be widening the cycle path within both the Council staff car park and the public car park to improve segregation between people walking and cycling.
“Along Foyle Embankment from Harbour Square Roundabout to Foyleside Roundabout, a traffic lane will be converted to a two-way pop-up cycle lane.
“These measures will allow the people of Derry to continue to enjoy the riverside walk and cycleway safely whilst maintaining social distancing as we learn to live with the challenges of covid-19.
“This is just a first step.
“I’ll be looking at more options for the City, seeking to maximise its potential, using infrastructure to transform lives for the better.
“Some of the changes we will make have not been tested before.
“They may not all work, but we have an opportunity now to try new things and to learn from them.
“Now is the time to be bold and to be ambitious.
“I know the people of the North West have waited a long time to see change and I am determined to deliver it in partnership with council and communities.
“My Department will be flexible and responsive but it will not be afraid to try new approaches.
“I’m grateful for the support from the Council – by continuing to work collaboratively we can make real improvements to the lives of our citizens, open up opportunities and deliver lasting change.”
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Brian Tierney welcomed the Department’s announcement and its creative and innovative plans to create more public space for walking and cycling along the city’s riverfront area.
He said the works will greatly facilitate social distancing and assist business who are reopening by reducing traffic, creating more space and instilling public confidence.
Mayor Tierney said: “The Council is very supportive of this work and believe it will encourage active and safe modes of travel and provide the public with more space and improve their experience as I know that significant numbers of residents have begun to walk and cycle more at this difficult time.
“We believe that this project will provide assurance to the public and will assist our businesses in planning for social distancing as they prepare to open again in the coming weeks and months.
“We also look forward to working with the Department how these initial innovative pilot schemes can be extended to Strabane and other Towns and Villages in the District over time.”