Cycling makes you look and feel great!

A bike on a cycle path in London. Image copyright: Transport for London

Adrian Bell of Transport for London (TfL) tells us how more young people can start cycling leading up to the Olympics and beyond.

Adrian Bell: It's an exciting time for young people to start cycling, especially with the 2012 Olympics coming to London. Cycling is an activity which more and more young people are getting involved with, whether they are using their bikes to get to school or work, socially, or cycling as a sport.

We're doing a lot to encourage young people to get on their bikes. We're putting millions of pounds into things like cycle routes and bike lanes, free cycle maps and cycle safety training. We're working with schools and colleges to give them the support, cycle parking spaces and advice they need to get their students cycling safely and confidently. Cycling is cheap, it's quick, and it makes you look and feel great!

Raise Your Game: Why are countries like the Netherlands better known for cycling than here?

AB: In the UK cycling was very popular until the end of the 1950's but it really lost out to our love affair with the car. Regaining a culture where cycling is seen as an everyday part of life requires time and effort. Of course in some British towns it never really went away - just look at Oxford and Cambridge. In other places, where the car has been king for many decades, it takes more time.

Cycling is growing in popularity here though - and young people's concerns, about things like the environmental impact by cars, are helping to make that change.

RYG: Do you think that getting the Olympics will make a difference?

A bike on London bridge. Image copyright: Transport for LondonAB: In the lead up to 2012, London is an inspirational place for young cyclists - whether they're aspiring athletes or enthusiastic spectators. The Tour of Britain now comes to London on an annual basis, and the Tour de France, the biggest annual sporting event in the world, is starting from the city in 2007.

It's well over a year away, yet TfL has already been inundated by requests from young people all over the country, cyclists or not, wanting to volunteer at the event. And who is to say that some of those volunteers won't find themselves competing in the Tour de France themselves one day? By 2012 young British cycling talent has a real chance to shine at the London Olympics.

RYG: Does it matter what you wear when you cycle?

AB: Good question. It depends really how far you're travelling and what you're riding. In winter wrap up warm, wear a hat and put some warm gloves on, but don't put on too many clothes, because you quickly warm up. Wicking clothes which draw sweat away from your skin are ideal - cotton absorbs sweat and will make you feel cold and uncomfortable when you stop cycling.

Also think about being seen - wear light coloured clothing and don't ride in the gutter. Cycle helmets can also be a good idea, especially if you are heading off road, but make sure they are fitted properly and are done up.

RYG: Why is cycling such a good thing?

AB: It's quick, it's cheap, it's good for you, it's pretty much free once you've got a bike. And it's fun! Cycling also offers a sense of independence, of being able to get up and go wherever and whenever you want. That's invaluable.

RYG: Where can you cycle?

AB: Pretty much anywhere! Main roads, side streets, parks and rivers all have cycle paths to follow, so there is something to suit everyone's taste and experience.

If you're more interested in sports cycling there are hundreds of cycling clubs, many of which are happy to see younger people involved through projects like British Cycling's Go Ride initiative.

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