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British cycle network to shrink


Britain's National Cycle Network has just been trimmed, losing nearly a quarter of its 16,000 miles of cycling and walking routes. The network's sponsor, Sustrans, says it is part of an ongoing plan to improve safety standards by removing roads too dangerous for the average cyclist.

Sustrans, named from 'Sustainable Transport, has been promoting cycling and cycling roads in Britain for over forty years. No it is de-listing routes where the roadway is shared with vehicle traffic moving above 20 mph in cities or 40 mph in rural areas, as well as some with substandard crossings, signage and other issues.

The cutbacks mean that a favorite long-distance route, the Coast-to-Coast route from Whitehaven to Tynemouth in the north will no longer be a continuous route and will be dropped from route lists. As well, almost a fifth of the network will be designated for experienced cyclists only.

Sustrans has been criticized in the past by other bicycle groups for approving too many dangerous shared-traffic routes to build up the list. Sustrans CEO Xavier Brice acknowledged this, saying Sustrans had been damaged by a "rush for miles" and that its goal would now be mostly a low-to-no traffic network that is clearly signed and accessible to all cyclists and hikers. He added that “This isn’t about experienced cyclists; this is about it being for everyone. It’s about making sure people can trust the network.”

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This move essentially just acknowledges that there never was a 16,000 mile network of cycle paths in the first place.

Cycling activity has greatly increased during the pandemic and people are increasingly demanding safe routes/arrangements for cyclists. The politicians give the impression that they are listening  - although, from experience, that doesn't mean much (especially as far as the current bunch is concerned)! However, it is just possible that something positive will emerge from the current situation after all.

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