At Ridgewood Contracts we undertake all aspects of work in the industrial and domestic sector including driveways, surfacing, waste removal and plant hire. Over the years we have worked on a number of projects throughout Staffordshire creating safe, traffic-free cycle paths for the national cycle network.
The national cycle network was created as a safe way for people to cycle all across the UK with routes linking to all major towns. The series of paths and roads were built for cyclists but are also popular with joggers, walkers and horseriders. The national cycle network stretches over 14,000 miles across the length and breadth of the UK and is used by almost 5 million people. Each year the Network is expanded and improved, and usage levels go up.
Sustrans is a UK charity enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys they make every day. They began to fund the national cycle network with gifted land and land purchased using the charity’s funds. In the early 90’s they started building cyclist paths but they weren’t all linked together so in 1995 they campaigned and won their first ever grant from the Millennium Commission for £42.5 million which they use to begin creating more paths linking towns together to form the national cycle network. Sustrans are responsible for 560km of the national cycle network but parts are owned by local authorities and landowners such as the National Trust, Network Rail, the Highways Agency, the Forestry Commission and Canal and River Trust.
Running the national cycle network costs Sustrans around 1 million pounds each year which is used for maintenance, repairs and to create new paths. However, there are many volunteers that enjoy helping to keep the Network up to a good standard by clearing vegetation, glass and other hazards etc. Sustrans also commission local artists to create artwork that is displayed along the routes to give users a more memorable journey.
Research conducted by Sustrans shows that there are cost benefits both to the NHS and society from increasing levels of physical activity. Last year the reported benefits of the Network exceeded £1 billion. Sustrans are continuing to work with partners to find new land and routes where they can build paths to add to the national cycle network. Funding is also used to create signage and maps for users so they have clear directions as to where the routes will lead them.
Improvements are being made all the time – we are currently digging out a path to add to the national cycle network between Aston and Stone, making it safer and easier for cyclists travelling between these areas.
For more information about Sustrans and the national cycle network visit their website: www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map/national-cycle-network