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Sustrans review of the National Cycle Network - Paths for everyone

The National Cycle Network is a network of 16,575 miles of signed routes for walking and cycling. It spans the UK and is used by millions of people each year.

We have spent more than two years completing our first ever review of the National Cycle Network to unlock its true potential for everyone. With this review, we want to build on its success and inspire a long-term, exciting future for the Network.

Photo of Xavier Brice, Sustrans CEO

"The genesis of the National Cycle Network can be traced back to Sustrans’ own in 1977 and the volunteers who turned a disused railway line into the 13-mile Bristol and Bath path. Whilst the Network has expanded, its quality varies, resulting in an inconsistent experience for those who use it. We need to make it better. Our review set out to create a new long-term vision for the Network, audit its condition and define a strategy for improving it. We have two priorities – to make the Network safer and more accessible for everyone."
-Xavier Brice, Sustrans Chief Executive

Through the review, we’ve joined up with and sought the views of key stakeholders and partners including landowners, local and national governments, our supporters and volunteers, funders and other non-governmental organisations who are keen to promote walking and cycling and improved public spaces.

They unanimously expressed their support for our vision to make the National Cycle Network safer and more accessible to everyone.

The report outlines the benefits the National Cycle Networks brings, summarises the findings of the physical audit and sets out our recommendations for creating a UK-wide network of traffic-free paths for everyone.

graphic of custodian role

We didn’t build the National Cycle Network on our own and we can’t make it better on our own. As the custodian of the National Cycle Network, we will continue working collaboratively with stakeholders, supporters, volunteers and community friends to improve the Network for everyone who already uses it as well as those who want to but can’t.

Find out what our custodian role involves

image of multiple signs on post

To ensure the Network is safe and accessible, we are setting a new quality standard, comprising:

  1. National Cycle Network design principles 
  2. National Cycle Network level of service measures
  3. Signing and wayfinding guidelines

Explore the quality standard in detail

image of report cover

We have developed seven action plans with input from key stakeholders including local authorities, landowners and volunteers. The action plans show the current condition of the Network and the issues that need to be addressed in each geography in order to improve the Network.

To demonstrate immediate change, we are aiming to deliver over 50 activation projects across the UK by 2023.

See the action plans in detail

group of people talking ©2018, Jonathan Bewley

Have you been inspired by our vision for the National Cycle Network? We need your help to make the Network safer and more accessible for everyone. Here is what you can do to help us create paths for everyone:

This is where we need your help. You can contribute to the future development of the Network by telling us what you think needs to improve. This will help to inform and influence our longer-term plans.

Please note – this doesn’t take the place of issue-reporting websites such as Fixmystreet. We’ll use your comments to build a picture of the Network and inform future plans. We won’t be responding to each comment individually, but your input is valuable to us and to the future of the Network. 

Please use our interactive tool to leave your comments

Logos of advisory panel organisations

Sustrans staff  launching the National Cycle Network Review in Parliament

As we launched the review of the National Cycle Network on 12 November 2018, our CEO Xavier Brice presented its findings and recommendations to make the Network traffic-free, safe and accessible for all to an audience gathered in Churchill Room, inside one of the UK’s most iconic buildings, the Houses of Parliament.

The afternoon tea was hosted by Ruth Cadbury MP who co-chairs All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group and featured speeches from Jesse Norman MP, Minister of State for the Department for Transport, and Matt Rodda MP, Shadow Minister for Local Transport, who both welcomed the report.