Sustrans wasnt founded to disappear in a puff of smoke sometime in the year 2000 but for the past three years the charity has been so focussed on the millennium year it hasnt talked much about its role in 2001 and beyond.
In order to drum up support for its continued and very necessary existence Sustrans has just sent out its first ever supporters questionnaire, asking the 39 000 friends of Sustrans how they would like the charity to evolve. Should Sustrans, in the future, lobby for smaller cars? Support a new National Agency to protect, extend and publicise the Network? Convince the publishers of A-Z city guides to include National Cycle Network routes? There are many other questions.
The form is for public consumption so it didnt mention (but perhaps should have) the 0.25 percent that the bike trade collectively raises for Sustrans. Once the trade has fulfilled its obligation to raise £1 million for Sustrans, the levy in theory could be scrapped.
However, since getting the levy off the ground in the first place was so difficult most commentators say it would be silly to jettison it. The money could be diverted to another cause bankrolling CPAG, the cycle campaigning umbrella body, for instance but Sustrans needs to keep as many revenue streams as possible if it is to thrive and achieve its aim of maintaining the National Cycle Network and publicising it so more people use it. The Bristol-based charity believes the 9000 mile network (5000 miles of which are open by mid-June 2000) is just the start.
In a letter that accompanied the questionnaire, Sustrans director John Grimshaw wrote:
The original plan to build a 6000 mile Network by June 2005 has already been extended to 9000 miles. And it neednt stop there. We are constantly being approached by various groups local authorities, community groups, schools, private sector bodies, utilities and other non-governmental organisations with requests for collaboration to extend this initiative further and further...we could well end up with a 20 000-mile Super-Network!
The work of Sustrans has not gone unnoticed by the powers-that-be. The National Cycle Network isnt a niche project. Mike OConnell, Director of the Millennium Commission has this to say (indirectly) about the work of Sustrans:
The National Cycle Network is one of the Millennium Commissions crowning achievements. This project encompasses the ethos of the new millennium.
Sustrans has helped put cycling on the map in many more ways than one and deserves a secure future. Hopefully, the bike trade will play a part in securing this future.