Isle of Man Government launches active travel investment plan

The Isle of Man Government has launched an active travel investment plan, developed by the charity Sustrans, to deliver a variety of routes for cycling and walking.

Sustrans was commissioned by the Isle of Man Government as part of a £3.8 million active travel programme to boost the numbers of people cycling and walking to over 20% by 2021 (compared to 14% in 2011).

The plan, which was developed in partnership with local communities, focuses on a 2.5-mile radius of Douglas town centre with around 35% of the island’s population. It recommends the development of walking and cycling routes along the river valley and promenade, linking up new and existing routes between Douglas and surrounding communities. A traffic free route is planned to connect the Heritage trail (traffic free) to the promenade (also traffic free) with an additional segregated route through the centre of Douglas to Onchan.

Sustrans highlighted the need for the major cycling route through Douglas towards Noble’s Park, leading to Onchan, as well as smaller measures such as traffic calming, improved signage, dropped kerbs and pedestrian crossings, to make it easier for more people to walk and cycle.

Rosslyn Colderley, director of Sustrans in the North of England, said: “The active travel investment plan is the start of an exciting journey to help make it easier for more people to walk and cycle on the Isle of Man. We have assessed the road networks and communities around Douglas to find out the areas where we can have the most impact to increase travel by foot or bicycle. Now the next stage is to discuss our proposed routes and facilities with local people, work with them to tackle any issues on the ground and help inspire long term change to active travel.”

The Isle of Man Government launched the island’s first Active Travel Strategy in July last year.

Infrastructure minister Ray Harmer said: “A lot of work has taken place since Sustrans was commissioned last year to use its experience and expertise in this area and produce an active travel investment plan. This document highlights the most effective way to enable people in and around Douglas to walk and cycle to work and school. A number of routes have been identified and prioritised and will inform how funds should be committed, to make effective changes to the way we move around.”

Research for the plan included workshops and discussions with local community groups and computer modelling work to assess peoples’ ‘propensity to cycle’, assessing the area’s topography, numbers of commuter journeys between key locations, and existing levels of active travel commuting. The plan is based on the UK Department for Transport’s local cycling and walking infrastructure plans which help foster a long term approach in increasing walking and cycling for travel.

Next steps include further engagement with local communities to help identify current barriers to people travelling actively to work and school. As part of the active travel programme, Sustrans has also appointed two new officers who will work directly with local businesses, schools and communities to encourage more people to travel by foot or bicycle.

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