The results of the charity's route user monitoring survey for 2004 reveals that 201 million cycling and walking trips were made on the National Cycle Network, a growth of 11.6 percent on the previous year. Cycling trips increased by 11.1 percent and walking by 12 percent.
This directly contradicts the government's Transport Statistics Bulletin, released last week, which estimates a 14.4 percent drop in 'pedal cycle traffic' between 2003 and 2004.
Sustrans' survey also shows how an increase in cycling and walking is contributing to a reduction in climate-changing CO2 emissions. In 2004 just over 50 million trips on the National Cycle Network replaced a car trip and many of those were commuter journeys to work.
"This means that cycle routes are providing practical alternatives to cars at some of the most congested times of the day. And they are helping people without cars to get around, in 2004 38 million trips were made by people who didn't have access to a car," said a statement from Sustrans.
58 percent of all car journeys made in the UK are under 5 miles. The average cycle trip length using traffic-free paths is nearly 5 miles.
John Grimshaw, Sustrans' CEO, said: "The [usage] figures are not just an illustration of the huge success story that is the National Cycle Network but they show a vision of the future that is attainable; a future where people can choose to leave the car at home and cycle and walk for business and pleasure.
"We believe that this is the true picture of sustainable transport, a marked and positive contrast to that supplied by the Transport Statistics Bulletin."
This bulletin from the Department for Transport does not include information from traffic-free routes, a fact highlighted by Grimshaw:
"We urge the Department for Transport to include these in future to give a much fairer assessment of the true position of cycling and walking in Britain. Meanwhile we will continue to develop and build more cycling and walking routes to improve the quality of all our lives."