|Region served||United Kingdom|
Sustrans is a British charity to promote sustainable transport. The charity is working on projects to encourage people to walk, cycle, and use public transport, to give people the choice of "travelling in ways that benefit their health and the environment". Sustrans' flagship project is the National Cycle Network, which has created over 14,000 miles of signed cycle routes throughout the UK, although about 70% of the network is on previously existing, mostly minor roads where motor traffic will be encountered.
As well as the National Cycle Network, Sustrans is working on Safe Routes to Schools, Safe Routes to Stations, Home Zones (liveable neighbourhoods), and Pont y Werin in Cardiff. Sustrans administers over 1500 volunteer Rangers who monitor over 60% of the National Cycle Network and contribute to the maintenance and promotion of the routes. Sustrans also works to promote cycling both for recreational and utility purposes, for example, by working with local authorities to organise cycling events, and by holding information and merchandise stalls at fairs and festivals.
Sustrans was formed in Bristol in July 1977 as Cyclebag by a group of cyclists and environmentalists, motivated by emerging doubts about the desirability of over-dependence on the private car, following the 1973 oil crisis, and the almost total lack of specific provision for cyclists in most British cities, in contrast to some other European countries.
A decade earlier, the Beeching Axe closed many British railways that the government considered underused and too costly. One such railway was the former Midland Railway line between central Bristol and Bath, closed in favour of the more direct, former Great Western Railway between the cities. Sustrans leased part of this route with the help of Avon County Council (Bristol and Bath were then part of the County of Avon) and turned it into their first route, the Bristol & Bath Railway Path.
In the early 1980s, when unemployment rose, the organisation took advantage of government schemes to provide temporary employment to build similar 'green routes'. British Waterways collaborated with Sustrans to improve towpaths along some canals and this resulted in greatly increased use of the towpaths, especially by cyclists.
In 1983, the charity Sustrans was founded. It had 11 directors who are the trustees, members, and board members of the charity and are chosen by the existing board. The executive board was composed of the chief executive, John Grimshaw, and one of the two company secretaries.
By the early 1990s, Sustrans had a growing number of supporters and the network of national routes was emerging. In 1995, it was granted £43.5 million from the Millennium Lottery Fund to extend the National Cycle Network to smaller towns and rural areas, as well as launch the "Safe Routes to Schools" project, based on earlier state projects in Denmark.
The organisation is working to introduce Safe Routes to Stations and Home Zones among other projects.
The National Cycle Network was the first project to receive Millennium Commission funding in 1995. Sustrans currently has many sources of funding, and in the 2004/05 financial year, their income was £23.6 million. Of this, £2.1 million came from supporters' donations. £8.5 million came from the Department for Transport, and a further £2.5 million from the National Opportunities Fund, specifically for the Safe Routes projects. Additional funding comes from charitable grants and trusts, local government and income from the sales of maps and books.
National Cycle Network
The National Cycle Network was officially opened in June 2000, when 5,000 miles had been completed, although some routes had been open for over a decade. In 2005 the network reached 10,000 miles. In urban areas, almost 20% of the network is free from motor-traffic, though these sections can account for up to 80% of use. The more rural parts of the network see less motor traffic and are used primarily for leisure cycling.
Sustrans estimate that in 2005 the network carried 232,000,000 journeys by all classes of non-motorised users. In 2010 this figure had risen to over 420,000,000 journeys. The data collected by Sustrans to compile monitoring reports, from traffic counters and user surveys, shows that National Cycle Network usage is predominantly urban, and mainly on traffic-free sections. Furthermore, surveys show that only 35% of usage on urban sections of the NCN is for leisure purposes.
Sustrans has opponents within organisations that wish to reduce road haulage and motor travel by promoting the expansion of the modern railway network. Furthermore, they have also received criticism from members of the heritage railway movement. Sustrans have been accused of being uncompromising on route sharing, for example, allowing a single-track railway adjacent to a cycle path on a double-track railway formation. An example of this is the planned section of the Bodmin and Wenford Railway between Boscarne Junction & Wadebridge.
Sustrans have also been accused of going back on their own policies with regard to sustainable transport. In 2000, several mainline railways were full to capacity, yet requests by EWS and English China Clays to reopen lost rail links for freight paths such as the former Weedon to Leamington Spa line were refused by the charity. Sustrans refused to support the application unless the rail promoter provided an alternative cycle track, to which EWS responded it was an uneconomic provision for both reopening and building replacement pathway expenses as well. Objections by cyclists mean that freight from these sources now has to continue to move by road through the local villages.
Purpose-built off-road Sustrans paths are frequently surfaced with gravel. Therefore, such paths are less suitable for road bikes with narrow tyres, and prone to throwing up more dirt than asphalt when wet. This is due to planning rules and landowners' conditions as well as to save cost. Surfaces often change along a single section of path; for example, NCN45 south from Swindon goes from fine gravel in Coate Water country park to asphalt after crossing the M4 motorway and back to very coarse limestone ballast on the final climb to Chiseldon.
Patrons of Sustrans include the following:
Glenys Kinnock MEP, The Rt Hon Neil Kinnock, Jan Morris CBE, Dr Alex Moulton CBE RDI FREng, Dervla Murphy, Steven Norris, Jeremy Paxman, Jonathon Porritt CBE, Claire Rayner OBE, Richard Rogers, Bettina Selby, Jon Snow, The Rt Hon the Lord Waldegrave of North Hill, The Rt Hon Sir George Young MP.
Connect2 is a UK-wide project that aims to improve local travel in 79 communities by creating new walking and cycling routes. Sustrans launched the 'Connect2' project in August 2006 in a successful bid to win £50 million from the Big Lottery's 'Living Landmarks; The People's Millions' competition. Connect2 was announced as the winning project on 12 December 2007.
- Sustrans, 2005. "About Our Work." Accessed 20 December 2005.
- Sustrans, 2005. "Our Projects." Accessed 20 December 2005.
- Sustrans, 2005. "Events." Accessed 20 December 2005.
- Sustrans, 2002. The Official Guide to the National Cycle Network. 2nd ed. Italy: Canile & Turin. ISBN 1-901389-35-9. Relevant section reproduced at MKweb.co.uk
- Sustrans Ltd. & PriceWaterHouseCoopers LLP, 2005. "Annual Report for the year ending March 2005." Accessed 20 December 2005.
- Sustrans, 2005. "Celebratory Events in 2005." Accessed 20 December 2005.
- Cycle-Routes, 2005. "Sustrans." Accessed 3 January 2012.
- Sustrans, 2006. "National Cycle Network Route User Monitoring Report to end of 2005." Accessed 3 May 2007.
- Beds for Cyclists, 2012. "National Cycle Network Route Usage 2000 - 2010." Accessed 5 May 2012.
- Hansard, the Official Report of debates in Parliament 1998. "Transport Policy and Railway Land." Created 16 March 1998.
- "Transport Policy and Railway Land". Railwatch.org.uk. 26 August 2000. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
- The People's 50 Million[dead link]
- Sustrans Official Home Page
- Sustrans Limited, Registered Charity no. 326550 at the Charity Commission
- The Taff Trail (NCN 8)
- Valley Rides By Tony Gibbs (NCN 8)
- The Pennine Cycleway NCN 68 Derby to Berwick by Dik Stoddart