A few thoughts on the Greenway...


Gerry McNally shares his story of using the Connswater Community Greenway for health recovery benefits.

Using 'Green Spaces' has wonderful health, economic, social and environmental benefits. Following an accident Gerry received great therapy from the Greenway. Please read Gerry's story below...

As a cyclist of 14 years, I have been a great supporter of the introduction of cycling infrastructure in Belfast and the commencement of the Connswater Community Greenway project in East Belfast was very welcome news to my ears.

I’ve gone on record in the past on my thoughts of how the Greenway project has made cycling safer and much more pleasant in East Belfast. My route to work takes me through Victoria Park twice a day and having that safe haven linked to a cycle network really has improved cycling safety in the area in a big way. However, I soon found out another benefit to the Greenway project in a sudden and unexpected way.

On the 20th of November 2015, I set of on my daily commute as usual and just before I joined the Greenway I was involved in a traffic accident which resulted in various injuries, the most serious being a broken collarbone. A few weeks off work saw most of my injuries heal, but my collarbone didn’t and in May of this year I had to undergo surgery to have a Clavicle Plate fitted to my collarbone to allow it knit together properly. The surgery went well and I only spent two nights in the company of the fantastic hard working staff of the Ulster Hospital.

The day after I was discharged from the hospital I couldn’t wait to get out for a walk and having access to the Greenway on my doorstep was immensely beneficial. Looking back now some six weeks post surgery that first walk around the Victoria Park section of the Greenway took a while longer than usual and resulted in a few rests on the park benches, but the fresh air, the smells and sounds of the natural environment boosted my feelings in a way I wasn’t expecting and since then I have made a point of walking the same section of the Greenway at least once, but more than often twice each day. I was also lucky that my sick leave coincided with some very warm and sunny weather.

The Greenway in my mind was for cyclists, but I’ve since learned that it is for everyone. My own mental and physical health has been boosted by using it in a small, but important way. Carrying an injury for seven months hasn’t been easy and has been stressful to live with. A few hours spent with nature takes that stress away and on my travels on the Greenway I’ve seen runners, walkers, parents and cyclists using this space in perfect harmony and safety.

Cycling in a city will never be one hundred percent safe, but projects such as the Connswater Community Greenway are making giant strides forward to creating safe spaces for all sections of the community to use for recreation and commuting alike.

Gerry McNally

Connswater Community Greenway would also love to hear from any other users who have received these positive and meaningful benefits? Click here to Share your story on their Facebook page.

For more information, click here.