About the National Cycle Network

The National Cycle Network, Sustrans

The National Cycle Network (often known as the NCN) is a series of safe, traffic-free paths and quiet on-road cycling and walking routes that connect to every major town and city.

The Network passes within a mile of half of all UK homes and now stretches over 14,000 miles across the length and breadth of the UK. 

Almost 5 million people use the National Cycle Network, and despite its name, the Network isn't just for cyclists, it’s also popular with walkers, joggers, wheelchair users and horse riders too.

The reasons for using it, and the benefits it brings, are as diverse as the destinations it can take you to.

Did you know?

  • Half of all trips made on the National Cycle Network are by walkers
  • Over 27 million trips on the Network are made by children travelling to and from school
  • 20% of cyclists using the Network are new to cycling or starting to cycle again
  • Over 85% of people who use the National Cycle Network feel fitter as a result
  • Over 50% of people using the Network felt it helped them to save money

So whether you’re a commuter on the way to work, or a family looking for a great day out, the Network is there for you.

More than just a connection

But we also want to make sure that your journey on the National Cycle Network journey is memorable, and more than just a way of getting from A to B. 

That’s why we commission local artists to develop artwork on the routes.  And that’s why we are working hard to conserve wildlife and habitats, ensuring that the National Cycle Network is a place where biodiversity thrives. 

How it all began

When Sustrans was set up in Bristol in 1977, we had a vision to improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists. By the early 90’s we had built cycle paths all over the country but they weren’t linked together. So in 1995 we campaigned and won the first ever grant from the Millennium Commission for £42.5 million to create our vision of a UK-wide network of high-quality, convenient routes.

We believed that with these routes, people would choose to leave their cars at home and travel on foot and by bike. And we were right.

In 2015 we’re celebrating 20 years of the National Cycle Network.

How it continues

Sustrans works to develop the National Cycle Network, working with partners to identify future routes and, in some cases, providing the funding to build extensions. 

Maintaining the National Cycle Network

Responsibility for maintenance of the routes lies mainly with Local Authorities and the Highways Agency. 

Sustrans owns a small proportion of the National Cycle Network, and for 80% of this land we are responsible for its upkeep. Sustrans is also contracted to maintain land on some Local Authorities behalf. Sustrans recruits and manages a large network of volunteers who work incredibly hard at keeping all the routes looking their best and ensuring signage is consistent. 

Find a National Cycle Network route near you to try out.

Find inspiration for using the National Cycle Network.

Support us by donating or volunteering.

Discover the National Cycle Network

Whether you walk, cycle, run or ride a horse, there's plenty of oppurtunity for adventure and getting involved!

a family out on a bike ride

If you want to explore some of the UK's cities then these rides are just for you.

a group bike ride on the NCN

Every year our staff and vounteers organise lots of rides and walks on the National Cycle Network, all over the country.

volunteers on the NCN

Our volunteers work incredibly hard to keeping all routes and signage in tip top shape. If you’d like to help out, check out our volunteer vacancies in your area.

kids out on a bike ride

For every £1 you donate, we can unlock a further £50 of funding to build safe routes and campaign for better conditions for cyclists.