Cycling charity launches ambitious plan to boost UK-wide path network | Cycling | The Guardian
Sustrans wants to link most towns with safe routes accessible for walking as well as bikes and wheelchairs
A masterplan for a UK-wide traffic and barrier-free national cycling and walking network (NCN) suitable for “a sensible 12-year-old travelling alone” is to be launched on Wednesday.
The ambitious plan would link most settlements of 10,000 people or more, and would make travel easier for wheelchair users, who can face multiple hurdles, while growing and improving the existing 12,786-mile network to reach all corners of the UK.
However, there are concerns that at the current rate of progress – Sustrans, the charity that manages the network, will complete 416 miles of improvements by 2023, and has removed just 315 of 16,000 barriers – the goal of a barrier-free network could take another 150 years.
The charity owns only 2% of the network, much of which is on public roads, and its latest report into the state of the current NCN shows how far there is still to go. Only a third of the NCN is currently traffic-free. A third (33%) is classed by Sustrans as very poor, 61% good and only 2% very good.
Xavier Brice, Sustrans’ CEO, told the Guardian: “The idea of the National Cycle Network isn’t to, for example, replace the need for fully segregated high-volume cycle lanes in cities and towns, or to replace the need for neighbourhoods that are pleasant and easy to move around without a car. This is a strategic arterial core network.