30 May 2014

Committee Gears Up For More Cycling

The Committee for Regional Development continued its cycling inquiry this week when it took evidence from three more organisations before being received by the Managing Director of the world’s biggest online bike store, Chain Reaction, at their Doagh warehouse and call centre.

The Committee met at the Hilton Hotel were they talked to representatives from the Northern Ireland Environment Link which emphasised that cycling contributed to all five Programme for Government priorities and a quarter of all the key targets.  Dr Stephen McCabe, NIEL Policy and Projects Manager, explained the benefits of “green corridors” and the impact these would have on helping Northern Ireland meet its greenhouse gas emission targets.

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His colleague, Dr Joanna Purdy, spoke about how physical inactivity contributes significantly to obesity and stressed that cycling can address this.

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Following in the slipstream of NIEL were representatives from CTC, the UK national cycling charity. Campaigns and Policy Director, Roger Geffen, spoke about the range of benefits cycling can bring to communities, both urban and rural.  They called for better design of roads and streets to provide safe environments for cyclists.

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Next up in the saddle was Nick Harkness, Director of Participation and Facilities, Sport NI.  Nick spoke about how much needed to be done to realise potential and called for a change in road user culture.

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Following this, Members made their way to Chain Reaction’s show room and warehouse in Doagh where they met with the Managing Director, Chris Watson, and some of his Directors.
L to R: Michael Murdoch, Cathal Ó’HOisín MLA, Maurice Donaldson, 
Jimmy Spratt MLA (Chair) and Chris Watson, MD of Chain Reaction
Chris spoke about how Chain Reaction has grown from a small family run store originally in Ballynure and then Ballyclare, to become the world’s largest online bike store exporting produce to over 100 countries globally. He also stated that greater investment was needed to boost the growth of cycling.

The delegation then were treated to a tour of the impressive facilities, including the showroom, warehouse and customer support.
Chair of Committee, Jimmy Spratt MLA and Cathal Ó’HOisín MLA
are shown some of the products by Chris Watson.
Members hear how 50,000 items per week
are shipped out of the warehouse around the world 
The Chair to the Committee summed up the day by thanking the witnesses and Chain Reaction, calling for increased investment and for Departments to get out of their silos and realise the benefits of cycling.
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Find out more about the Committee's Inquiry into the Benefits of Cycling to the Economy, listen to previous evidence sessions and find out when the Committee are next meeting by visiting the business diary.

Next: Regional Development Committee visits Great Western Greenway