Cycleways and pathways in the UK have contributed towards £1.7 billion in local business benefits according to the Sustrans Paths for everyone: Three years on report.
The analysis in the report said 72% of users stated the Network is their best option for transport, with 95% of using it for exercise.
The Network has also seen greatly increased use by the public throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Since 2019, approximately 121 million more trips were taken on the Network than the previous year.
At the height of pandemic in 2020, the Network carried approximately 4.9 million users over 764.8 million trips. In 2020, we removed or reclassified 3,733 miles of dangerous or inaccessible parts of the Network to create a safer and better-quality network overall.
Sustrans has also removed or redesigned 315 barriers to allow people using wheelchairs and buggies to access the network.
The report highlights the need for further development to fully achieve equity of access for the UK public and regular Network users; walkers, wheelers, cyclists, and horse-riders.
Sustrans has a vision to provide a connection between every community of at least 10,000 people in the UK.
This presents a clear opportunity for the Network to become a backbone in addressing the three national priorities: public health and wellbeing, environmental goals, and economic recovery, it said.
On releasing the report, Xavier Brice, CEO at Sustrans, said: “In 2018, Sustrans set a new vision for the National Cycle Network and 15 concrete steps to realise it when we published ‘Paths for everyone’.
“Our ‘Three years on’ report highlights the progress we’ve made working with our many partners, volunteers, and supporters, and celebrates the Network as a vital part of the UK’s green infrastructure.
“The huge increase we’ve seen in the number of people relying on the Network for exercise and travel has proved just how crucial these routes are in connecting people to places and to each other, providing family-friendly spaces and boosting local economies.
“In times of public health crisis, the climate emergency and substantial rises in the cost of living, active travel has never been more important.
“The Network was there for the public when it was needed throughout the pandemic, and it must be protected and developed to ensure it will be there for the future.”
The report can be read here: Paths for Everyone Three Years On (sustrans.org.uk)