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Riders converge on offices of Harland and Wolff, designers of doomed liner

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson joined a Sustrans event to mark the 15th anniversary of the National Cycle Network at the weekend.

Cyclists set off from Newtownabbey, Bangor, Comber and Lisburn before converging on Belfast’s Titanic Quarter. When the rides reached the city, participants were welcomed by Naomi Long MP and given rare access to the Drawing Offices of Harland and Wolff. After some lunch, they rode to the Science Park for tea, cake and music, and took in a birds-eye view of the Titanic’s original dry dock.

Steven Patterson, Sustrans Northern Ireland Director said: “This was the perfect way to celebrate the National Cycle Network which proves that where safe and attractive routes exist, levels of cycling and walking will rise significantly. We call on the Executive at Stormont to prioritise future investment in walking and cycling so delivering an improved quality of life for all sections of society.”

The 10 mile ride from Newtownabbey used the newly created Newtownabbey Way and the ride in from Lisburn travelled along the towpath by the River Lagan. The Comber ride took place along the award winning Comber Greenway and the ride in from Bangor was a scenic coastal route through Helen’s Bay.

Sally Liya, rode in from Newtownabbey and is a volunteer for Sustrans. “The Newtownabbey Way provides a space for people of all ages and all sections of the community to walk and cycle. It links us to the coastal path meaning we can cycle the whole way to the City Centre and Titanic Quarter – it’s wonderful.”

The National Cycle Network has been a flagship project for Sustrans since 1995 when a £43.5m funding from the Millennium Commission enabled the charity to create a national network that people could being to use for everyday journeys as well as for leisure. Today it extends over 12,600 miles and carries over 1 million walking and cycling journeys every single day.