More greenways can help reduce health problems

Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan.
Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan.

SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan MLA, has called for increased investment for greenways and active travel schemes across the North.

Mr Durkan’s comments coincide with NICE recommendations urging city planners to develop travel routes which prioritise pedestrians and cyclists. The Foyle MLA said prioritising such developments is key in tackling a “myriad of issues.”

He said: “Ring-fencing investment in this area could have far reaching benefits for health and well-being and of course the environment. Identifying a need for increased physical activity, in conjunction with other interventions, NICE advised the investment in greenways infrastructure would achieve a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes and the promotion of mental wellbeing.

“We need to reassess how we treat some of the biggest health problems facing our communities. By taking small steps to incorporate active travel into daily life we can tackle head on the ever-increasing numbers of people suffering from poor health. The successive financial savings could potentially be utilised in the maintenance of these greenways or put back into the Department of Health.

“By expanding greenway routes to Strathfoyle, Muff and Buncrana, the important growth of cross-border networks will undoubtedly maximise the modal shift. We need to focus on getting people out of their cars and on their bikes-or feet when possible,” he added.