Figures released by sustainable transport charity Sustrans at the beginning of Bike Week show that for the first time the national cycle network (NCN0 is being used for more than 1 million journeys every day.
On the back of these figures Malcolm Sheperd, Sustrans CEO called for the NCN to be treated in the same way as other nationally important travel networks – with statutory levels of finance and support.
In 2008 a total of 386 million trips were made on the Network - half by bike and half on foot – this fiqure equates to just under a third of the 1.2 billion passenger journeys made on Britain's railways in 2007/08.
The figures be published in the charity's Route User Monitoring Report for 2008. The popularity of the National Cycle Network for journeys to work or school continues to rise, with 96 million commuter journeys and 17 million trips to school made over the year. Sustrans calculates that if these commuter trips had been made by car (given the average car occupancy in the UK of 1.6 people) there would have been an extra 60 million car journeys made on our roads at peak hours.
Furthermore says the charity over the networks enables over a third of its daily users to leave their car behind - 134 million journeys were made last year by people who could have used a car but chose not to.
Use of the 12,000 mile network seems to be gathering momentum – the number of journeys being made is growing faster than new sections are added. According to Sustran's figures every pound spent on developing it brings around £35 worth of benefits1 compared with most other transport schemes which deliver ratios of around three to one.
Malcolm Shepherd, Sustrans CEO, said: "It is gratifying to see this increasing and sustained use of the National Cycle Network. But it is also frustrating because, in spite of the increasingly vital role it plays in the environmental and physical health of the UK, the Network remains the only nationally important travel network for which there is no obligation or consistent level of financial support for its maintenance or development.
"Yet we face a low carbon future, escalating fuel costs, and an obesity time-bomb that is set to devastate not just our health but also our economy. While the National Cycle Network is not the only solution to these issues, these figures surely prove it should sit high on the list. And when we read that the National Cycle Network's value for money far outweighs all other transport schemes, perhaps the Network and cycling and walking in general have earned the right to benefit from proper and consistent investment and promotion."
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.