School cycling safety schemes across Northern Ireland have been axed as part of a Budget cut. The project, which funded schools to purchase new bikes and helmets for pupils and train instructors, has been dropped to reduce public expenditure.
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The move has sparked criticism from road safety charities, who say it could put children’s lives at risk. Cycling UK’s Policy & Campaigns Manager, Duncan Dollimore, said: “The money saved by scrapping the school cycling safety scheme is peanuts compared to the potential costs of a serious injury or fatality. We urge the government to reconsider their decision and reinstate this important investment that keeps kids safe and encourages them to be active and enjoy the benefits of cycling.”
The scheme was part of a wider effort to promote healthier lifestyles among children and increase their safety when cycling on public roads. The Department for Infrastructure has invested £2.6m in cycling initiatives since 2016, including road safety education and bike hire schemes.
It is unknown how much money has been saved by cutting the school cycling safety schemes, but road safety campaigners fear it could cost far more in terms of lives lost or serious injuries caused by unsafe riding conditions. They are urging the government to reconsider its decision and invest in cycling initiatives that can save lives.
Cycling should be a safe activity for all, especially young people who will eventually become the cyclists of tomorrow. It is essential that they are provided with the education and resources to make safe decisions on public roads and that their safety is always a top priority.
The government must take responsibility for its decision to axe funding for school cycling safety schemes and acknowledge the potential consequences it could have for young people’s safety. Children need to be protected from needless danger on our roads, so the necessary funds must be made available to ensure their safety when riding bicycles in Northern Ireland.
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