Earlier this week, Carol Freeman one third of the Sustrans triumverate but soon to leave for pastures news briefed the BA on the media coverage garnered by the June 21st launch of the National Cycle Network

Network launch WAS a media success, Sustrans tell BA

Brief Overview Report on Ride the Net

On June 21st 2000, Sustrans and its supporters made the impossible possible by opening the first 5,000 miles of the National Cycle Network. Some 5,000 cyclists covered the entire length of the Network in one day, and hundreds of thousands of others followed suit that weekend by taking part in further events.

Public awareness of the National Cycle Network has risen from 31% to 43% as a result of the coverage achieved. (Research conducted for Sustrans by MORI, early May and late July 2000. This represents an increase of approx 5.5 million adults, taking the total to nearly 20 million adults who know of and remember the National Cycle Network one month later.)

Political support for the Network is apparent at a very high level. The Network was opened by:

* The Rt Hon Chris Smith MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

* Keith Hill MP, Under Secretary of State, DETR

* Hilary Armstrong MP, Minister for Local Government and the Regions

* Sarah Boyak MSP, Scottish Transport Secretary

* Sue Essex AM, Welsh National Assembly Secretary for Transport, Planning and the Regions

* And dignitaries from local authorities across the UK.

Media coverage was excellent, including:

* 19 National TV items, including BBC Countryfile, Big Breakfast, BBC Breakfast News, BBC One OClock News, BBC Newsround, The National Lottery Show, BBC2 Working Lunch, Channel 4 News and Sky Digital.

* 12 National and International radio spots, including BBC Radio 4 News, You and Yours, PM programme, BBC Radio 5 Live.

* 57 Regional TV items

* 244 Regional Radio items

* On-line features including Channel 4 and BBC websites

* Lead-up features of several full pages each in The Sunday Times, Guardian, Express, Independent, Financial Times and Times

* Over 2000 regional and local press stories

* Features in over 50 separate magazines including Mens Health, specialist journals, and even the Beano and Dandy, which dedicated a whole issue to the Network).

We have provisionally estimated the value of publicity generated in the media at

£3 million.

No bad news was associated with the opening of the National Cycle Network, contrasting with the launch of almost every other Millennium project.

Counts on the Networks routes suggest that use of the Network was 40% higher on the weekend of 24/25th June (Cyclethon Weekend) than on the same weekend the previous year.

Sales of the Official Guide to the National Cycle Network are running high. Launched in May, the book has now sold 20,000 into shops, up from an initial order of 5,000 in May. (The book is sold through AA Distribution).

Sustrans in-house information service is answering twice the rate of information calls as before the launch. During Ride the Net week itself, visits to our website reached an all-time high of 30,000.

Ride the Net created ongoing partnerships with new sectors of value to cycling. The BMA and the health sector organised Ride for Health, with 200 separate events involving tens of thousands of people and raising over £400,000 for charity. Participating groups included hospitals, GP surgeries, health charities, patient groups, professional bodies representing practitioners, and health education organisations. This has given a huge boost to the credibility of cycling in this important sector.

In Northern Ireland, the Health Promotion Agency NI ran a national TV campaign, supported by leaflets distributed to all households in the province and a community grants scheme, promoting the health benefits of cycling and walking all as a result of the partnership with Sustrans

Almost every local authority in the UK was involved in the opening day of the National Cycle Network. Over 400 local authority receptions took place on that day, each one gaining local media coverage and publicity.

Sustrans and the National Cycle Network are the only cycling organisation and project to be mentioned in Transport 2010, the Governments recently published 10 Year Plan for Transport (p63).

Sustrans and the CTC proved that nationwide co-operation works the Millennium Festival of Cycling achieved a record 4,000 events, with nearly half of these being created by the opening of the National Cycle Network.

Sustrans is now working towards its 2005 target, to open a total of 10,000 miles of route.

Sustrans Safe Routes to Schools project has now been given a central position within the transport financial settlement, and hundreds of SRS projects at local authority level are due to get local transport funding in the government settlement in December 2000. This will enable Safe Routes to Schools to become a nationwide reality for Britain.

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