The 13,000 mile mark for the National Cycle Network was reached after the opening of routes from Lincoln to Sheffield, adding another fifty miles of Valleys Cycle Network in South Wales, and the new Route 50 going through Buckingham, Daventry and Leicester.
The National Cycle Network, signed and promoted by Sustrans, is nearly six times longer than the UK’s motorways network, which currently stands at 2206 miles. The National Cycle Network passes within one mile of 58 percent of the UK population and within two miles of 79 percent. In 2009, the NCN carried over 407 million journeys, 203 million by bike and 199 million on foot. Nearly a quarter of all journeys were commuting trips.
4800 miles of the Network is free of motorised traffic, an amalgamation of railway paths, segregated cycle lanes, and routes through parks. Two-thirds of the Network is on roads, either lightly-used rural roads or quiet urban roads. Huw Davies, director of the National Cycle Network for Sustrans, said:
“From very little to 13,000 miles in sixteen years is fantastic and with hundreds of millions of journeys on it every year, it is clearly working for people. But 13,000 miles isn’t the end point. Over two-thirds of journeys made by car are under five miles and, with petrol prices rocketing, the cost of those short journeys is significantly rising for people.
"Making short distance local connections doable on foot or by bike - like putting in the walking and cycling bridge Pont Y Werin in Cardiff – is vital for communities. We are now working with local councils across the UK to ensure the Network is maintained, expanded and an inherent part of their transport systems.”
The National Cycle Network is made up of cycle paths, greenways, on-road and traffic free routes. Although most used by cyclists, the Network is a mix of routes that are used by walkers, parents with buggies, commuters, and wheel-chair users.
The Network was started in 1995 and the first route to be completed was the 17 mile Bristol and Bath Railway Path. The original ambition was to create a 6,500 mile network