Sustrans will today launch its first review of the National Cycle Network.
The charity has said that only 54 per cent of the network is currently suitable for a 12-year-old to use safely, a road safety benchmark set by the Government.
Just over a third of the paths on the network are separated from motor traffic and on-road sections account for 68 per cent of routes and include nearly 2,000 miles of A and B roads.
An online survey of 5,965 UK residents showed support for the network, and 81 per cent of the respondents said they want paths built away from cars where everyone feels safe to travel.
Greater Manchester commissioner Chris Boardman MBE said: “The little blue and red sign indicating a segment of the National Cycle Network is a long-recognised and trusted mark, used by cyclists and walkers alike, to navigate their way around the UK without cars.
“That alone should tell us just how valuable an asset it is. In times of high obesity and poor air quality, travelling actively has never been more important and the National Cycle Network is a key tool in helping address these problems.”
Cycling and walking minister Jesse Norman said: “The National Cycle Network is a familiar sight for many, and a great asset for cyclists and walkers across the country.
“This report shows that more needs to be done to make it fully accessible, and that’s why earlier this year the Government dedicated £1 million to support initial work repairing and upgrading sections of this popular network.
“My department has worked closely with Sustrans throughout the review, and I look forward to seeing how the network is further improved to encourage generations to make cycling and walking the natural choice for shorter journeys.”
The “Paths for Everyone” report is the conclusion of a major review and independent audit commissioned by Sustrans.
The review involved interested stakeholders and sets out 15 recommendations for local authorities, private and charitable landowners, national governments and agencies, to transform the network.
This included the removal or redesign of 16,000 barriers on the network, doubling the number of paths away from cars, improving safety at junctions where the network crosses roads and railways, improving signage, and adopting a new quality design standard for paths.
The charity, working with local authorities, aims to deliver 55 schemes across the UK, ranging from improving signage to re-designing junctions and creating traffic-free paths, which are to be finalised by 2023.
All four national governments have backed the review of the network, and the Scottish Government committed £7 million in 2017 towards the development and maintenance of the paths in Scotland.
Sustrans, which owns 500 miles of the network, has estimated the overhaul will double the number of people travelling actively up to 8.8 million, totalling a £2.8 billion investment over the next 22 years.
These trips will generate £7.6 billion in economic and local benefits every year, as a result of reduced road congestion and health benefits from increased exercise, including £5 billion alone in benefits to local businesses from tourism and leisure, up from £3.8 billion per year in 2017.
The National Cycle Network was founded by Sustrans with the help from local communities, partners and the National Lottery grant awarded in 1995.