Sustrans has announced that it is to undertake a major review of the National Cycle Network (NCN), which it develops and maintains.
The Bristol-based sustainable transport charity says that as part of the review, it will explore potential new routes for people on foot and bike as well as identifying missing links in the existing network.
It also plans to draw up a new, long-term strategy regarding the network’s future governance, funding, maintenance, promotion and mapping, as well as calling on national and local government to invest in and develop new and existing routes.
According to Sustrans, each year some 5 million people use the NCN which covers more than 16,000 miles across the length and breadth of the UK.
The charity’s CEO, Xavier Brice, commented: “Much of the existing National Cycle Network was designed to standards that have since been changed and improved.
“With this review, we want to further build on the success of the NCN and achieve a network of safe, fully accessible and high quality routes and paths.
“We hope this will make walking and cycling easier for everyone, regardless of their age and abilities, and inspire a new generation to get on their bikes.”
Sustrans says that the NCN saves the NHS £550 million annually through promoting a healthier population and is also worth £650 million each year to local communities it passes through, supporting 15,000 jobs.
Brice continued: “Walking and cycling can hugely benefit public health and wellbeing, boost local economies and create greener local environments.
“The NCN plays a large role in achieving this, as it encourages active commuting and a healthy lifestyle, and contributes to economic growth.
“This is a reminder that governments at all levels need to prioritise dedicated and consistent investment for existing walking and cycling routes that will serve communities across the UK and generations for years to come.”
The review, which is due to be published in September, is being carried out in partnership with national and devolved governments and other organisations, including the Canal & River Trust whose research and impact unit manager, Richard Rutter, underlined the importance of the NCN as part of its towpath network.
“The Canal & River Trust currently hosts 500 miles of the National Cycle Network on our towpaths,” he explained.
“We are delighted to support the Review to understand how our 200-year-old towpaths, which already attract over 400 million visits each year and which are on the doorstep of 8 million people, can attract even more people and help to deliver even greater wellbeing benefits in our fast paced world.”
The Department for Transport, which is currently holding a consultation into its review of cycle safety, said: “We want cycling to become a natural choice of transport for people of all ages and backgrounds.
“We are determined to make cycling and walking safer and easier across the country, and that’s why we have provided £83,900 towards the cost of this important review of the National Cycle Network which should lead to future upgrades for the families, commuters and tourists who use it every year.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.