UK’s National Cycle Network tops one million daily users

2008 figures for Sustrans' flagship project break all records

Sustrans say its National Cycle Network is getting more popular

The UK’s sustainable transport charity Sustrans has announced that over a million people used its National Cycle Network (NCN) every day in 2008.


There were 386 million trips made on the NCN last year, half by bike and half on foot. By comparison, this figure is nearly a third of the number of passenger journeys (1.2 billion) made on Britain’s railways in 2007 and 2008.

Sustrans also revealed that although the 12,000-mile long NCN is growing all the time, the number of journeys being made on it is growing at a faster rate.

Sustrans claims the National Cycle Network benefits the transport system, health and economy of the UK in the following ways:

  • Every pound spent on the Network gives back £35 worth of benefits. Typically, transport schemes give back in a ratio of 1:3
  • The fact the NCN gets people active means following the advice of organisations such as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, who say the key to getting more people active is to create the right environment for encouraging walking and cycling – typified by the Network’s green, traffic-free routes. Nearly three quarters of people asked say that the NCN is helping them to increase the amount of physical activity they take.
  • The NCN is helping to ease congestion – in particular that caused by the school run. It carried 96 million commuter journeys and 17 million trips to school in 2008 – both up on the previous year. This equates to 60 million peak hour car journeys taken off the road (based on an average car occupancy of 1.6 passengers).

In a statement, Malcolm Shepherd, Sustrans CEO commented: “It is gratifying to see this increasing and sustained use of the National Cycle Network. But it is also frustrating because, in spite of the increasingly vital role it plays in the environmental and physical health of the UK, the Network remains the only nationally important travel network for which there is no obligation or consistent level of financial support for its maintenance or development.

“Yet we face a low carbon future, escalating fuel costs, and an obesity time-bomb that is set to devastate not just our health but also our economy. While the National Cycle Network is not the only solution to these issues, these figures surely prove it should sit high on the list.  And when we read that the National Cycle Network’s value for money far outweighs all other transport schemes, perhaps the Network and cycling and walking in general have earned the right to benefit from proper and consistent investment and promotion.”

Sustrans released its figures to coincide with the beginning of Bike Week (13-21 June). Full details will be available in Sustrans forthcoming Route User Monitoring Report for 2008.


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