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Sustrans says number of trips made by walkers and cyclists each rose seven per cent last year

 

Sustrans says that the number of trips made by walkers and cyclists on the National Cycle Network (NCN) last year rose by seven per cent – equivalent to 50 million additional journeys.

In its report, Millions of People on the Move, the sustainable transport charity says that the NCN contributed more than £1 billion to the UK economy in 2013.

That comprised £803 million in health benefits, £215 million in reduced petrol bills and £25 million in carbon savings, with more than a third of NCN users choosing it rather than going by car, resulting in 157 million fewer vehicle trips.

Interestingly, despite its name according to Sustrans' figures more people walk on the National Cycle Network than cycle on it - 325 million cycling trips were made last year as opposed to 423 million walking trips.

Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive of Sustrans, said: “Official data shows levels of cycling and walking to be in long term decline, but year on year we are seeing increases in the number of people taking to the National Cycle Network both by bike and foot.

“The rise in the number of people using the National Cycle Network shows that there is a demand for safe, convenient and welcoming walking and cycling routes but too many people still feel threatened by traffic danger on the roads.

“Governments must match this demand with dedicated funding to walking and cycling and by reducing traffic speeds on our roads to create the kind of environment which encourages people to leave the car at home.

“Walking and cycling has the potential to be a silver bullet for the UK’s health as well as delivering billions of pounds in economic benefits but we urgently need safer roads to make this happen,” he added.

 

Launched in 1995 with the help of a £43.5million grant from the National Lottery Millennium Commission, some 748 million journeys were made on the NCN last year.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

16 comments

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mrmo [2093 posts] 2 years ago
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National Cycle Network

Quote:

convenient and welcoming walking....

What is the annual change in horse riding on the motorway network out of interest?

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HarrogateSpa [405 posts] 2 years ago
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I regularly use a Sustrans walk and cycle path. It's great in many ways, and when I use it, I know what the rules are - slow down or often stop for walkers and dogs. I don't have a problem with that.

However, I don't think walking (and dogs) and cycling mix brilliantly well on narrow paths. Do Sustrans always lump walkers and cyclists together, or is there scope for cycling only paths in some cases?

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graham_f [196 posts] 2 years ago
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HarrogateSpa wrote:

I don't think walking (and dogs) and cycling mix brilliantly well on narrow paths. Do Sustrans always lump walkers and cyclists together, or is there scope for cycling only paths in some cases?

I think the problem's a cultural one, as for so long cycling and walking have been lumped together into shared use facilities. Even if you were to build cycling only facilities and clearly sign them as such, then I think inevitably people would use them for walking and feel aggrieved if you told them they were only for cyclists. The only way to avoid that is to have completely separate infrastructure of an equal standard for both cyclists and walkers, but the cost savings of building one track and making it shared use means that's what we always end up with.

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rogermerriman [91 posts] 2 years ago
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I would imagine that a lot of the routes along a lot of the distance make more sence as footpaths than cycle paths, and where footpaths, before sustrans made it part of their network.

The longer distance ones out of weekends, you see plenty of dog walkers but not much if any one else.

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bikebot [2149 posts] 2 years ago
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Until Sustrans understand that a muddy path without paving or tarmac is by no measure a "national cycle network", I have zero interest in them.

Most of their network should be labeled as trails for mountain bikes only, not a cycle network. How many of us have heard of a new cyclist trying to follow one of their routes, and rapidly giving up.

Their approach seems to be years behind the debate (in some cases, about 200 years!), and it's probably worth taking a good look at exactly how they are spending their budget.

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HarrogateSpa [405 posts] 2 years ago
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Until Sustrans understand that a muddy path without paving or tarmac is by no measure a "national cycle network", I have zero interest in them.

I agree with this. Ideally, cycle routes would not exclude road bikes because of poor surfacing, and force people to buy another bike to use them. If you want to encourage people to cycle, you should make it as easy as possible. I suppose it's a question of cost.

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mrmo [2093 posts] 2 years ago
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HarrogateSpa wrote:
Quote:

Until Sustrans understand that a muddy path without paving or tarmac is by no measure a "national cycle network", I have zero interest in them.

I agree with this. Ideally, cycle routes would not exclude road bikes because of poor surfacing, and force people to buy another bike to use them. If you want to encourage people to cycle, you should make it as easy as possible. I suppose it's a question of cost.

Not just cost though, just cycled to work the scenic way, went through Pershore and the sign says 6miles to Evesham there is also a NCN sign, 10m to Evesham.

So you can take the road or almost double the distance and take whatever they deem suitable! and having seen the state of some of the NCN in the area it'll probably be a rutted towpath along the river!

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sfichele [141 posts] 2 years ago
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Wonder how many car trips are taken by dog walkers driving to a sustrans path....

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Matt eaton [742 posts] 2 years ago
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It would be interesting to understand what Sustrans mean by 'trips'. I'm not convinced by Sustrans' routes as a viable alternative to the roads, mrmo's example is a good reason why but a lot of their routes are good for leisure/family/pootling rides/walks and I wonder if this use is counted as a 'trip'.

The measure of success on the NCN should be how many trips are made on it for practical/utilitarian reasons i.e. as transport. If leisure use is included we might as well include laps of the velodrome and BMX track as 'trips' too which would be very misleading.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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Judging by what they think as acceptable for bike facilities, one can only assume the trips they are referring to are of the LSD variety.

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Cranky Acid [40 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm a long way off being an apologist for Sustrans but lighten up a little. It's true that we are now ready for serious high quality infrastructure for cycling and they've not been providing tht. On the whole this will have to come alongside the road network. Roads follow a route for a reason; It's where people need to travel between.
What Sustrans have done is stake a claim on some great long sections of land. It's created a lot of rubbish infrastructure but it's got our name on it at least. It's now up to us to use it and push for the spending required to upgrade it. True, much of it is only really of use for leisure and touring but that is still important. I wouldn't let them off the hook for putting their name to some very dodgy compromises on new build schemes and they are still repairing gates that make some parts of the NCN unusable for families with trailers, tandems etc. and the surfaces…

claim it, use it, upgrade it

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bikebot [2149 posts] 2 years ago
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Cranky Acid wrote:

claim it, use it, upgrade it

The problem is that an awful lot of it isn't usable.

If the highway agency opened a route for motorists that was only passable by tractor, they'd be a laughing stock. That's exactly what sustrans having been doing and calling it part of the "national cycling network". The majority of the NCN is of course on road, and is basically just signage.

Fundamentally, what is Sustrans for? We seem to have a national charity that wants to build cycling infrastructure. That an idea past its time, we're never going to become a cycling nation on a charity basis. The road network wasn't built by jumble sale.

Infrastructure should be in the hands of Government, local and national. The role of charity is to campaign. If they continue in the mode they are, they are basically just another quango sustained by Government grants and largely unaccountable to the interests they should serve.

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bikebot [2149 posts] 2 years ago
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Related to my comments above, this is a blog post I read awhile ago, that I've just gone searching for.

http://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/sustrans-connect-lon...

It's a good description of the difference between the Sustrans "Connect London" project and the quietways proposed by the mayors office. In one sentence "Quietways will be direct", whereas the Sustrans routes weaved around in great big circles that seemed to be designed to maximise mileage rather than actual usefulness

Meanwhile, Sustrans seem to be claiming credit for the whole idea rather than recognising their faults, http://www.sustrans.org.uk/connectlondon

Sustrans is in danger of becoming part of the problem rather than the solution.

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gazza_d [468 posts] 2 years ago
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Interesting comments, and although the below comments are anecdotal and personal they are valid and show that Sustrans is not all bad.

I use part of the C2C and other sustrans paths as part of my daily commute from Tyneside to either Durham or Stanley.

The commute although doable, would be so stressful and dangerous, that I'd not bother.

The "off road" sections are now sealed tarmac with the exception of about 1/4 mile, and with very few barriers (only at getting on points).

Where it does fail is the local access onto the C2C. At several places it passes near villages or roads, but there is no access. That needs to be changed, and the route clearly signed. Almost as a "motorway" for cycling. That will make it more visible and accessible to the public as well.

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oldstrath [687 posts] 2 years ago
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Glad you got a good bit. Ever tried cycling south from Berwick on what they label as NCN 1? Unsurfaced would be a kind description. Sheep trod would be more truthful for much of it. Still, at least it's direct, unlike most of the Sustrans routes that are designed to ensure we get lots of exercise, by being at least 50% longer than the road route.

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mrmo [2093 posts] 2 years ago
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I think the closest parallels to sustrans I can think of are the turnpikes and the pre nationalised railways.

Both were swept away when it was realised that you need to plan the whole system and not rely on local interests.

Whilst Sustrans may be national, we need cycle paths to be considered at the same level as the rest of the transport network and not as an afterthought. If Sustrans want to work as advisors, fine, although the current advice seems to be wanting. We need someone in government to say every road must be built in a certain way, that developments must consider cyclists and pedestrians from day one and not as an afterthought.

Why don't cyclists want to use cycle paths, so why do the same crap paths keep on being built! How hard is it to understand the issues and then deal with them, rather than keep on repeating the same mistakes and expecting something to change.

I guess on the anniversary of the first world war it is quite fitting that we have learnt so much about changing results.