School bicycle shelters branded '˜ridiculous'

Questions have been raised after a decision to install bicycle shelters at a local primary school.

Friday, 8th April 2016, 6:00 am
Hart Memorial Primary School Transport Minister Danny Kennedy announced the winners of the recent Travelwise NI My Walk to School competition. Fifteen schools from across Northern Ireland were named as the winners in the sustainable transport initiative which took place during Walk to School Week 2015. Schools in Northern Ireland registered to take part in Walk to School Week and all primary schools were asked to encourage pupils, parents and teachers to get active and to take part in a competition to be in with the chance of winning high Viz vests for all pupils in the school.

The two shelters were installed at Hart Memorial Primary School, and one councillor branded the move ‘ridiculous’ after calls had been made for a road crossing to be restored at the school’s entrance.

UKIP Councillor David Jones challenged the decision to install the bike shelters, explaining that he had personally petitioned Transport Minister Michelle McIlveen to provide a crossing.

Cllr Jones said, “I find both the assessment and announcement of funding for a bicycle shed absolutely ridiculous. One only has to be at the school at peak times to see the sheer amount of traffic, both light and heavy vehicles, passing the school.”

Councillor Jones had approached the Transport Minister in January this year, after her announcement that a £100,000 scheme for a cycle track and priority crossing was set to begin at the school. The Minister explained to Cllr Jones that a crossing had “not been provided as the volume of traffic did not warrant it” - but explained that funds had been made available for Hart Memorial to build bicycle sheds.

“The school recently received an award for encouraging pupils to walk - but it is on a major link road,” explained Mr Jones. “I will continue to make representation in respect of a crossing for the safety of pupils at the Hart.”

Principal of Hart Memorial Primary School Julie Shipley said, “We were delighted to receive two bike shelters from the Department of Education NI as we promote Active Travel to school as part of the Sustrans Active Travel programme.”

Last year, parents of pupils at the school launched a petition to restore a crossing.

There was no response from the Education Authority at the time of going to press.