The built environment of towns and villages directly impacts people’s physical activity behaviour. The initiative “Better Ennis” in the area of the County of Clare (Ireland) is striving to improve conditions for active mobility and to attract people to the area instead of “allowing them to pass through” towns and villages.
The founder of “Better Ennis”, Sile Ginnane, stated that: “The design of the built environment excludes physical activity and what we want to do is to design it back in. Places for people to stop and sit down are also required.”
Based on a mobility audit from the town of Ennis in 2020, key issues for changes in mobility infrastructure provision got identified. The main key findings/issues were:
- The need to reallocate road space to pedestrians and cyclists;
- To provide segregated cycle lanes and clear allocation of space at junctions to the different transport modes;
- To reduce motorised traffic by measures such as widening speed limits.
A successful example is the temporary pedestrianisation of Ennis allowing people to feel safe using the streets. Much depends on the right message for such measures according to Sile Ginnane: “We are not closing off our streets to people, we are actually opening them up.”
Senator Roisin Garvey (GP) forwards the issue as well to the national level asking why many of the 4,000 kilometres of roads in County of Clare are labelled as 80 to 100 km/h, including local roads. She stated: “We need to think about road signs in the county. It’s a low-cost measure that will save lives.”
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Article published first at The Clare Echo News on 7th of February 2021.