National Cycle Network maintenance principles

The National Cycle Network maintenance principles should contribute to a well-maintained route.

Maintaining a National Cycle Network route well will:

  • enable the landowner to discharge their legal duties
  • contribute towards a positive user experience
  • maximise opportunities to carry out improvements as part of maintenance work.

The initial design and construction of the route are important. Investing in quality construction will typically result in lower whole-life costs. You can refer to the National Cycle Network design principles for more information.

UK Roads Liaison Group maintenance guidance should be followed where relevant.

Additionally, the following four principles should be applied.

A group of contractors in high-vis overalls widening a traffic-free path with shovels.

Have a management plan setting out the inspection regime, routine maintenance activity and treatment of defects

The route should be subject to a risk-based inspection regime. Separate inspection regimes may be required for different elements of a route.

Inspectors should be trained and have the ability to assess the impact of defects on people who use non-standard cycles.

All defects should be recorded, tracked and prioritised for action, based on risk.

Safety-related defects should be addressed as soon as reasonably practicable.

If the nature of a defect requires closure of the route, ensure that this is well communicated to all users. If possible provide a signed diversion.

Man in overalls using a large brush to resurface a traffic-free route surrounded by trees and greenery.

Create an improvement plan to address longer-term deterioration

An improvement plan should set out longer-term maintenance measures. This should include the renewal of elements of the route.

Take opportunities to carry out preventative maintenance as part of routine maintenance.

Funding for improvements may be more available than for maintenance.

Volunteer working on traffic free path

Involve the community in the management of the route

Community involvement is at the heart of the National Cycle Network. It ensures that it is a dynamic asset that can meet everyone’s needs.

Establish and support an active volunteering or community group for the route.

Capture feedback from users of the route, for example via an interactive map. This could be a mechanism for the public to report defects to the maintaining body.

A small snail with a striped shell crossing a traffic-free path with a cyclist stopped in the background watching.

Put in place a greenway management plan

Carry out maintenance in accordance with a greenway management plan for the route. This will be a collaboration between the route manager and an ecologist.

The plan will set out how to manage the route to maximise its biodiversity value.

You can refer to the Sustrans Greenway Management Handbook for more information.