Credit: Sustrans

Sustrans to enhance family offer on NCN as UK moves out of lockdown

Sustrans is enhancing the family offer on the National Cycle Network in a move to make it more accessible and provide a consistent user experience.

A total of 12,763 miles on the network is now mapped and promoted for families, disabled people, people with long-term health conditions and those new to cycling. Over 40.95% (5,227 miles) of those routes are traffic-free paths away from motor vehicles.

Through online mapping, Sustrans now also promotes information for on-road ‘Named Routes’ best suited for an experienced cycle-touring audience, with the changes to signage due to complete next summer.

The ‘Named Routes’, some of which include the iconic Caledonia Way, C2C (also known as Sea to Sea) and Hadrian’s Cycle Route, make use of 18.6% of the NCN (3,090 miles) which has been reclassified as better suited for experienced users. The routes are not run wholly on the network and will be maintained by highways authorities, amongst others.

Additionally, about 4.5% of the network, which comprises of 753 miles of busy on-road sections, have now been taken off the map, with no signage assigned, as they fall “too far short” of the quality standards Sustrans aspires to, the charity said.

The changes are part of a long-term UK-wide plan for the National Cycle Network by custodians Sustrans in its work to double the miles of traffic-free routes from 5,000 to 10,000.

Since launching the vision in 2018, the charity, with support from central and local Governments and other partners, has started delivery of 80 schemes, whilst working with many local authorities to plan their local cycling and walking networks and, where it is possible, to link them up with the network.

Estimations show that £2.8 billion is needed to bring the network up to standard by 2040.

Xavier Brice, CEO for Sustrans, said: “The National Cycle Network is a vital part of the UK’s green infrastructure, connecting people to places and to one another, providing family-friendly spaces and boosting local economies.

“The move to differentiate paths and routes will help us offer more targeted and relevant information on the paths for everyone choosing to walk, cycle and wheel. It’s also an opportunity to promote routes as leisure cycling destinations in their own right and build the UK’s cycle touring offer to both domestic and international audiences.”

Brice continued: “In times of public health crisis and climate crisis, travelling actively has never been more important. Supported by our partners and volunteers, we continue making the Network better and more accessible for everyone, with 80 schemes being delivered and more in the pipeline.

“We’re asking national and local governments to recognise and incorporate the Network in national planning policy so that all new developments make best use of, and connect up to the Network. Together, we can move towards our 2040 vision of paths for everyone.”

Trips on the National Cycle Network generate around £88 million for the UK economy through reduced road congestion and contribute £2.5 billion to local economies through leisure and tourism each year. Along the Caledonia Way, figures suggest that cycle tourists spent a total of £10.3 million last year.

Sustrans is working with VisitScotland on an online journey planner to put Scotland’s best leisure cycling routes in front of its audience of up to 20 million people. The project has today launched three new cycle touring routes and 15 day trips, such as The Lochs and Glens Way, Union and Forth and Clyde Canals, and the Loch Ness 360 touring routes.

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “We’re delighted to partner with Sustrans to host new routes on the journey planner and hope this helps people plan future trips by bike, particularly now tourism businesses across the country are beginning to reopen.

“The tourism industry has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic so we’re encouraging everyone to explore what’s on their doorstep, supporting businesses and enjoying all our beautiful country has to offer in a responsible way.

“Our own insights show that cycling is a popular activity particularly for domestic holidaymakers and day-trippers seeking a sense of wellbeing and the opportunity to take in some incredible sights along the way. The economic contribution of adventure tourism is vitally important too and has a key role to play as we look ahead to the recovery of Scotland’s visitor economy.”

For info about routes and to view the OS map of the National Cycle Network visit

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