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Using learnings from local examples and from leading cycle cities across Europe, Claire McLernon from sustainable transport charity Sustrans presents an engineer’s view on the importance of thinking beyond current transport conditions in Northern Ireland to plan for the bicycle’s very important role in our future.
The aim of this presentation is to challenge the status quo regarding infrastructure design by focusing on the movement of people and goods as laid out in the NI Draft Programme for Government. Through delivery of behaviour change work in communities, workplaces, schools and beyond, Sustrans leads the way in understanding the barriers to cycling and the motivations behind people taking to two wheels. Only when there is a robust marriage of behaviour change interventions and forward-thinking infrastructure decisions will we achieve the active travel culture that our towns and cities and the people within them so badly need.
Claire is Sustrans’ Network Development Manager in Northern Ireland, and has worked for the charity for over four years. She has led a review of the National Cycle Network in Northern Ireland to establish a plan for its future, with a vision for a National network of traffic-free paths for everyone, connecting cities, towns and countryside and loved by the communities they serve. A Civil Engineer, Claire ventured into the world of network development, environmental policy and governance when she achieved a PhD in groundwater resource management from Queen’s University, Belfast. Early-career industry experiences include a valued couple of years in geotechnical engineering consultancy which has quite literally been the foundation for all her other pursuits, some structural engineering experience at Nippon Sharyo, Japan, and time working as an environmental liability advisor prior to landing the dream job in Sustrans.
Claire grew up on the National Cycle Network and used it throughout her life to commute between home, university and work, only succumbing to owning a car when employment dictated it was “a necessary requirement”. The first obvious sign of Claire’s stand-out bicycling credentials was when she and her mother casually set out on their city-bikes (baskets and all) to comfortably complete all 80 or so miles of ‘Lap the Lough’ with bacon sandwiches and flasks of tea in the panniers. Rumour has it they had enough food spare to rescue a number of lycra-clad participants from near-starvation towards the end (true story).
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