Our Sustrans journey

A true story of hard work, bold ideas and incredible support.

40th anniversary logo

2017 marks 40 years of Sustrans and we’re immensely proud of what we’ve achieved so far.

Since 1977 when a group of friends in Bristol formed an action group to challenge the growing dominance of cars on our streets we have been making journeys safer and empowering people to make travel choices which are good for them, their neighbourhoods and the environment.

Explore our trailblazing journey.

people cycling on the grass in the shape of a bike wheel
A walking and cycling revolution begins in Bristol when a group of friends get together to improve conditions for walking and cycling in the city.

boy with a road roller

We start work on converting the disused railway line between Bristol and Bath into a dedicated route for people travelling on foot and by bike. Our practical roots are firmly planted. 

Sustrans today

The popular Bristol and Bath Railway Path is used by lots of different people – going to and from different places - from commuters and school children to dog walkers and weekend cyclists.

cyclists next to a canal

The Bristol and Bath Path is an instant success. Other routes dotted around the UK follow, mainly using disused railways and canal towpaths.

Sustrans today

Our safe, traffic-free routes can be found all around the UK.  They’re used and enjoyed by families, commuters, beginner cyclists, walkers, joggers, wheelchair users and horse riders too.

Discover a traffic-free route near you.

In 1984 we began work on the ‘Scottish Railway Path and Cycle Route Project’ to create walking and cycling routes across Scotland.

Sustrans today

There are more than 2,000 miles of National Cycle Network in Scotland including the recently completed Caledonia Way.

Watch Lee Craigie's amazing journey on the Caledonia Way and hear how cycling and the outdoors became her salvation as a teenager.

We celebrate the completion of Andy Goldsworthy’s Lambton Worm earthwork in Consett, the first of a UK-wide programme of public art that helps to create memorable journeys for travellers on foot and by bike.

Sustrans today

The National Cycle Network hosts the largest collection of free outdoor artworks in the country, created through working collaboratively with artists, schools and local communities. 

group of cyclists

We launch our supporter programme to grow a movement of people who share our vision and raise vital funds.

Sustrans today

We have 40,000 marvellous supporters who want to see more of the change we make happen. We wouldn’t be here without you – thank you.

Find out how your support could help us make a difference.

children cycling to school

To reverse the decline in children walking and cycling for everyday journeys we pioneer safe routes to schools in the UK. Our groundbreaking project not only encourages children to walk or bike to school but makes sure the routes they take are safe.

Sustrans today

Over an academic year we’ll work with more than a thousand schools, inspiring big increases in children getting to school under their own steam. 

CEO receives cheque on TV show

We campaign to win the first ever grant from the National Lottery for £42.5 million to create the National Cycle Network. Our work with hundreds of partners to deliver this bold and ambitious vision begins. A landmark year.

Sustrans today

The Network now passes within a mile of half of all UK homes and stretches over 14,000 miles across the length and breadth of the UK. Nearly five million people use it each year. You can too

two volunteers on a cycle path

Sustrans today

Our 4,000 volunteers are rooted in the communities where we work. They take children and adults out cycling, promote behaviour change in schools and workplaces and take care of our routes. We simply couldn’t do what we do without the huge amount of time they give.

Last year our volunteers gave us 39,146 hours of their time.

Our younger sibling, Railway Paths Limited, is set up to manage a large portfolio of disused railway land for transforming into walking and cycling routes.

Today this specialist charity looks after land and property across the UK including more than 700 bridges, viaducts and tunnels and some of the most popular, traffic-free sections of the National Cycle Network.

children playing in the street

In 1999 we began to focus on street design, creating liveable neighbourhoods where cars pass through slowly and it’s safer to travel through on foot and by bike. The first of these was The Dings in Bristol.

Sustrans today

We work with communities around the UK to reclaim their streets, transforming them into lively, community-centred neighbourhoods that are safer and easier to travel through on foot and by bike.

people walking

We focus on the health benefits of our work because being more physically active in daily life – in routines like travelling to work and school – makes so much sense.

Sustrans today

We run bike rides, walks and other activities in communities, workplaces and schools throughout the UK to enable people to become more active and enjoy healthier lifestyles.

Read our blog about fighting childhood obesity with cycling and walking.

group of children on bikes

We extend our work with children in schools through an innovative project called Bike It to give children the skills to bike to school and parents the peace of mind to let them.

Sustrans today

In 2016-17 our officers worked with 1,376 schools across the UK to encourage children to have a happier, healthier journey to school.

In 2017 schools recorded over a million journeys by bike and scooter during Big Pedal fortnight.

people with a cheque

We win a public TV vote to secure £50 million from the Big Lottery Fund to create 84 new walking and cycling networks, extending the National Cycle Network into the heart of communities across the UK. A happy time.

Sustrans today

We continue to develop routes which provide an easy way to get to and from places, often working in challenging urban spaces to join up communities and provide safe, convenient trips to school, work or the shops.

Our Community Links programme is making walking and cycling infrastructure improvements across Scotland.

group of children on bikes outside Millennium centre

Our campaigning leads to the Welsh government announcing plans to make Wales the first country in the world to place a legal duty on councils to provide a network of routes for walking and cycling.

Sustrans today

We influence public policy and political opinion at all levels to bring about a step change in walking and cycling. 

We are appointed to deliver Quietways, a network of cycle routes in London that follow quieter streets, parks and waterways as alternatives to busy main roads.

Sustrans today

We play a vital role in making London the most liveable city in the world where walking and cycling are the easiest and most obvious choice for short journeys.

Read how we increased opportunities for walking and cycling in Marks Gate, East London.

A historic win for us and our advocacy partners as the Government amends the Infrastructure Act to include a commitment to investment in cycling and walking in England.

Sustrans today

We welcome the publishing of the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy in April 2017. The challenge now is to deliver the change needed to boost walking and cycling locally and, as ever,  we will be at the heart of that.

Keep up to date with our latest news.

We commission the UK's biggest assessment of city cycling, reporting on progress across infrastructure, travel habits, public attitudes and the impact of cycling more widely. The results published in the seven Bike Life 2015 reports are clear: people want to cycle more.

Sustrans today

We continue to collaborate with the seven major cities to report every two years and share progress towards making cycling an attractive and everyday means of travel that benefits everyone. Our Bike Life 2017 reports published in November show four in five people want more protected bike routes built to make cycling safer, even when this could mean less space for other road traffic.

Air pollution is estimated to cause 40,000 early deaths in the UK each year. In Northern Ireland we collaborate with leading European cycling nations to tackle the problem in Belfast by promoting cycling for commuters.


We complete the first series of cycling maps to cover the whole of the UK.

Our online shop offers the very best collection of cycle maps and guides and all profits go directly back to funding our work.

Take a browse.

We've recently launched our new five year strategy responding to the challenges of today and setting out our vision for tomorrow.

Forty years on the need to rebalance the way we move around is stronger than ever. As always we’re setting our sights high to make walking and cycling an easy and everyday choice for everyone.