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Issues to be addressed include identifying new routes as well as missing links in existing network

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.”

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.