This year is the 10th anniversary of the Sustrans Volunteer Ranger program and it is using the occasion to appeal to more people to come forward to help maintain and look after their local cycling and walking routes.
The first Volunteer Rangers began helping the sustainable transport charity in 1999. Ten years on, there are now around 2,500 volunteers giving their time, which amounts to a grand total of 140,000 hours of work every year at a value of almost £1.5million!
But, as the National Cycle Network continues to grow - it currently covers more than 12,000 miles across the UK - more people are needed to help maintain and promote it.
Tony Ambrose, Sustrans Volunteer Programme Manager, said: 'A decade of dedication from our Volunteer Rangers is a huge achievement, well worth celebrating. It's the perfect opportunity to say thank you to all those that have given their time during the last ten years, and encourage more people to get involved.
'With the help of volunteers, Sustrans has managed to create and improve a vast network for healthy and environmentally-friendly travel. It's a lasting legacy that will continue to benefit people across the UK for many years to come.'
Volunteer Rangers give an average of four to five hours a month to check on their local section of the National Cycle Network, by bike or on foot, and make it more pleasant and safe for everyone who uses it.
Ranger tasks can involve anything from clearing overgrown plants and branches, putting up route markers or organising litter-picks, to leading guided walks and bike rides for the public.
Rupert Douglas has been a Volunteer Ranger on National Route 7 near Penrith in Cumbria since the very beginning. He said: 'During my 10 years as a Volunteer Ranger I've seen the Sea to Sea route in Cumbria grow enormously in popularity.
'It's a great feeling knowing that I'm helping to maintain and improve the route for both local people and visitors to enjoy.'
The National Cycle Network runs within two miles of 75 per cent of the UK population, and is increasingly well-used, with more than 354 million trips made on it in 2007.
To find out more about being a Volunteer Ranger in your area call 0117 9150110, email volunteers-uk [at] sustrans.org.uk or visit www.sustrans.org.uk and click on 'Support Sustrans'.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.