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Sustrans
Formation 1977
Headquarters United Kingdom Bristol, UK
Region served United Kingdom
Website Sustrans
Canal boat decked in Sustrans logo

Sustrans is a British charity which promotes sustainable transport. The charity is currently working on a number of practical 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".[1] Sustrans' flagship project is the National Cycle Network, which has created over 10,000 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 other practical responses to transport and environmental challenges.[2] 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 holding information and merchandise stalls at fairs and festivals.[3]

Contents

History

Sustrans' first ever route follows a disused railway though a green corridor in Bristol.

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.[4]

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.[4]

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 has 11 directors who are also the trustees, members, and board members of the charity and are chosen by the existing board. There is also an executive board composed of the chief executive and one of the two company secretaries.[5]

By the early 1990s Sustrans had growing number of supporters and the network of national routes was emerging. In 1995 they were granted UK£43.5 million from the Millennium Lottery Fund[6] 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.

Funding

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 Sustrans income was £23.6 million. Of this, £2.1 million came from the donations of supporters. £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.[7]

National Cycle Network

Sustrans Route 66 behind the Derwent Arms, Osbaldwick, York

The National Cycle Network was officially opened in June 2000,[8] though 5000 miles had already been completed, and some routes had been open for over a decade. In 2005 the network reached 10,000 miles.[9] 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.[10] The data collected by Sustrans to compile their monitoring reports, from traffic counters and user surveys, shows that National Cycle Network usage is predominantly urban, and mainly on traffic-free sections. Furthermore, the surveys show that only 35% of usage on urban sections of the NCN is for leisure purposes.

Criticisms

Sustrans has a number of opponents within the heritage railway movement and those promoting the expansion of the modern railway network to reduce motor travel. Some within these movements suggest that users of these rural routes actually increase motor travel in gaining access to these routes with cycles carried on vehicle roof racks etc.[citation needed] Sustrans have been accused of being uncompromising on route sharing; E.g. 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 regards to sustainable transport [11]. In 2000 several main rail lines were full to capacity and requests by EWS and English China Clays to reopen said lost rail links for freight paths such as those on former Weedon to Leamington Spa railway 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. [12]

Cycle paths are often undeniably misused by the walkers themselves. Littering [13], gang attacks [14], horseriders [15], and dog-fouling are reoccurring problems on some urban and rural routes, spoiling the very countryside Sustrans tries to promote. The situation has forced local councils and communities [16] to incur further expense in providing bins for dog waste and the on-going cost of wardens patrolling the worst affected areas regularly. [17]

Purpose-built off-road Sustrans paths are frequently unmetalled, being surfaced with gravel if this is done at all. Therefore such paths are less suitable for road bikes with narrow tyres, and prone to throw 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 radically along a single section of path; for example, NCN45 south from Swindon goes from fine gravel in Coate country park to asphalt after crossing the M4 motorway and back to very coarse limestone ballast on the final climb to Chiseldon.

Another area of criticism is the willingness of Sustrans to install barriers on their routes. Much of The National Cycle Network is therefore not accessible to people on special needs cycles such as handcycles despite the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (now updated) in the UK to remove obstructions. It must be questionable whether a charity should operate in this way.

Patrons

Patrons of Sustrans include: -

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

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.[18]

See also

References

  1. ^ Sustrans, 2005. "About Our Work." Accessed 2005-12-20.
  2. ^ Sustrans, 2005. "Our Projects." Accessed 2005-12-20.
  3. ^ Sustrans, 2005. "Events." Accessed 2005-12-20.
  4. ^ a b Sustrans, 2002. The Official Guide to the National Cycle Network. 2nd ed. Italy: Canile & Turin. ISBN 1-901389-35-9. Relevant section reproduced here.
  5. ^ Sustrans Ltd. & PriceWaterHouseCoopers LLP, 2005. "Annual Report for the year ending March 2005." Accessed 2005-12-20.
  6. ^ Sustrans, 2005. "Celebratory Events in 2005." Accessed 2005-12-20.
  7. ^ Sustrans Ltd. & PriceWaterHouseCoopers LLP, 2005. "Annual Report for the year ending March 2005." Accessed 2005-12-20.
  8. ^ Cycle-n-sleep, 2005. "Sustrans." Accessed 2005-12-20.
  9. ^ Sustrans, 2005. "Celebratory Events in 2005." Accessed 2005-12-20.
  10. ^ Sustrans, 2006. "National Cycle Network Route User Monitoring Report to end of 2005." Accessed 2007-05-03.
  11. ^ Hansard, the Official Report of debates in Parliament 1998. "Transport Policy and Railway Land." Created 1998-03-16.
  12. ^ Railwatch - November 2000 edition. "Transport Policy and Railway Land."
  13. ^ Whitehaven News 2008. "Cycle path litter bugs criticised." Accessed 2008-03-13.
  14. ^ BikeRadar.Com 2008. "Five arrested after Bristol to Bath cycle path attacks." Accessed 2008-06-05.
  15. ^ Bexhill Observer 2009. "Cyclists put in danger as horse riders damage Rye - Camber cycle path." Accessed 2009-02-09.
  16. ^ Carmarthenshire County Council 2008. "Clean-up of cycle path." Accessed 2008-06-16.
  17. ^ BBC News 2009. "Dog mess issue on new cycle path." Accessed 2009-01-15.
  18. ^ The People's 50 Million

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