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Murphy leads the way to reduce number of car journeys

17 September, 2007

Sinn Féin Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy today signed up to leaving the car at home and using sustainable transport where possible.

With a record number of cars on the road and growing levels of traffic congestion, the Minister became the first person in the north to endorse the 'Travelwise Pledge, in continuing steps to encourage commuters to swap their car for other modes of transport such as walking, car-sharing, bus, train or bicycle, for one journey each week.

Speaking at the launch in Newry, he said:

"We are spending more time in our cars now than ever before which means that we are also spending more time stuck in congestion. Research carried out by Travelwise has shown that people who commute in and out of Belfast by car spend, on average, the equivalent of a full working day travelling to and from work each week. With schools now open, commuters will be finding the journeys they were making only a few days ago will now in many cases take twice as long.

"It is staggering how many cars on the road contain just one person. The Travelwise survey suggests that some 69% of commuters travel alone in the car. But our love affair with the car goes beyond the commute to and from work. We now use our cars more for unnecessary and shorter journeys, whether it's just down the road to see friends or go to the shops when we could walk instead.

"By supporting the Travelwise pledge, I am giving my commitment to encouraging a reduction in car journeys and I will be inviting my Executive colleagues and fellow MLAs to set an example and endorse the Pledge also.

"I appreciate public transport may not suit everybody but I would encourage people to also consider the car-sharing option. Car sharing saves time, money and benefits the environment and our health." ENDS

Note to Editors

The Travelwise survey also shows that of the sample of 500 respondents who drive to central Belfast everyday, only 52% of respondents said they required their car for work which means that 48% of car commuters simply drive to work, park their car and drive home again.

The Travelwise campaign is encouraging commuters to consider the alternatives to being stuck in traffic by trying sustainable transport options such as car-sharing, public transport or walking and cycling as healthy and cheap alternatives. Such initiatives make a positive contribution to the north's Sustainable Development Strategy, which sets challenges for all of us to make our society more sustainable in economic, social and environmental terms.

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