Three years ago we set out our shared vision of making the National Cycle Network a traffic-free, more consistent and accessible Network for everyone. Three years later, this new report provides an update on the great successes achieved by Sustrans teams across the UK to improve the access, safety and public appeal of the National Cycle Network.
This new report, Paths for everyone: Three years on, updates on the work completed by Sustrans teams across the UK's nations and regions to improve the access, safety, and public appeal of the Network.
Read the report below:
- English Language Report (digital)
- Welsh Language Report (digital)
- English Text Only Report
- Welsh Text Only Report
Key statistics from the report
72% of users stated the Network is their best option for transport, with 95% of using it for exercise.
The Network has also seen greatly increased use by the public throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since 2019, approximately 121 million more trips were taken on the Network than the previous year.
At the height of pandemic in 2020, the Network carried approximately 4.9 million users over 764.8 million trips.
In 2020, we removed or reclassified 3,733 miles of dangerous or inaccessible parts of the Network to create a safer and better-quality network overall.
We've also removed or redesigned 315 barriers to allow people using wheelchairs and buggies to access the Network.
Achieving equity of access
The report highlights the need for further development to fully achieve equity of access for the UK public and regular Network users; walkers, wheelers, cyclists, and horse-riders.
We have a vision to provide a connection between every community of at least 10,000 people in the UK.
This presents a clear opportunity for the Network to become a backbone in addressing the three national priorities: public health and wellbeing, environmental goals, and economic recovery.
A vital part of the UK’s green infrastructure
On releasing the report, Xavier Brice, CEO at Sustrans, said:
“In 2018, Sustrans set a new vision for the National Cycle Network and 15 concrete steps to realise it when we published ‘Paths for everyone’.
"Our ‘Three years on’ report highlights the progress we’ve made working with our many partners, volunteers, and supporters, and celebrates the Network as a vital part of the UK’s green infrastructure.
“The huge increase we’ve seen in the number of people relying on the Network for exercise and travel has proved just how crucial these routes are in connecting people to places and to each other, providing family-friendly spaces and boosting local economies.
“In times of public health crisis, the climate emergency and substantial rises in the cost of living, active travel has never been more important.
"The Network was there for the public when it was needed throughout the pandemic, and it must be protected and developed to ensure it will be there for the future.”
What our partners say
The Department for Transport said:
“There is already excellent progress being made to upgrade the National Cycle Network, which receives significant annual funding from the Department. We will continue to support this wonderful national asset as we build on our commitments to make walking and cycling easier, safer, and more accessible for all.”
Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust, said:
“Canal & River Trust towpaths are for everyone to enjoy, respecting other users. It is great that Sustrans are promoting shared use for everyone and the importance of our towpaths as green routes into and through towns and cities across the country.
"As a Sustrans partner, we’ve been able to work alongside their Paths for Everyone programme to make many miles of towpath more accessible, with our firm message being that priority must be given to the slowest users, including walkers and those accessing the waterspace. This has been especially important during the pandemic when towpaths provided a lifeline for millions of people, and they will continue to be a vital part of the nation’s green infrastructure.”