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On Your Bike
Friday 4 February
Yvonne Ellis gets on her bike to find out about the National Cycle Network, a web of 10,000 miles of cycle paths across Britain.
Yvonne joins John Grimshaw on a cycle path in Bristol
In 1977, with the backdrop of the Middle Eastern oil crisis, John Grimshaw and fellow bike activists lobbied Bristol council to make better provision for cyclists. They formed a group called Cyclebag which later grew to become Sustrans, short for "sustainable transport". A group of volunteers decided to build a cycle path themselves from Bristol to Bath and this spread to other cities. In the intervening 28 years, John and his team have designed and implemented 10,000 miles of paths to form the National Cycle Network.
Sustrans have particularly focussed on the school run in their Safe Routes to School scheme and Yvonne visits a school in York were children have been encouraged to cycle to school by providing secure bike sheds and cycle training.
And it's not just children who are benefiting - traffic -free cycle paths are often old disused railway lines which act as wildlife corridors as Michael Woods, chairman of the Mammal Society shows Yvonne. The grassy banks and hedgerows make good habitats whilst bridges and tunnels allow animals as well as cyclists to cross roads safely. For the cultured cyclist , there are works of art on each route to reflect the landscape and heritage of the area too.
But with traffic increasing at 2% a year and fewer journeys being made on foot or bike can the National Cycle Network really act as an alternative transport system? Yvonne finds out how we might be encouraged out of our cars and onto our bikes.