UK

Olympians call for 'everyday cycling' investment in UK

Laura Trott and Jason Kenny Image copyright PA
Image caption Laura Trott and Jason Kenny signed the letter calling for better leadership

Some of Britain's top cyclists have written to Prime Minister Theresa May calling for the government to create "a legacy of everyday cycling".

The group of Olympians - including gold medallists Jason Kenny and Laura Trott - said encouraging more people to use bikes instead of cars would be "the best way" to honour their success.

They called on the PM to address "chronic underfunding" in cycling.

The Department for Transport said investment had tripled since 2010.

Team GB enjoyed a record-breaking Olympics and topped the cycling medal table at Rio 2016 for the third games in a row.

Downing Street has since implied there would be "no limit" to the number of honours given to Olympic heroes.

'Slow lane'

But signatories to the letter - including Mark Cavendish, Joanna Rowsell Shand, Becky James and Sir Chris Hoy - said the best way to mark their achievements would be to invest in cycling.

A "lack of leadership" has kept cycling as a mode of transport "in the slow lane", they said.

Image copyright AP
Image caption British cyclists won 15 medals at Rio in total

Cycling "does not enjoy the government investment or political leadership given to roads, rail or aviation," the letter added.

"Only networks of segregated cycle lanes in towns and cities across the country can achieve and influence growth," it said.

The letter called for 5% of the government's transport spending to go on cycling, saying this was the "only way" to give it "the priority it deserves".

"Investment in cycling as a form of transport isn't purely an investment in cycle lanes," it said.

"It is an investment that will pay off for the nation's health, wealth, transport infrastructure and the vibrancy of our towns and cities. It has the added benefit of just making it easier for ordinary families to get to work and get to school.

"Our athletes have inspired the country and now we urge the government to take cycling seriously as a transport option for everyone."

Chris Boardman, Elinor Barker, Owain Doull and Katy Marchant also signed the letter.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Chris Boardman argued for fewer cycle lanes on busy roads

Boardman, a former Olympic champion who is now British Cycling's policy advisor, said cycling "isn't only a sport", but a way for people to get to school and to the shops.

He told BBC Radio 5 live the death of his mother - who was killed while cycling in North Wales in July - had made him more determined to campaign for new cycling routes.

He described her death as "needless" and called for "protected spaces" not mixed in with fast-moving traffic.

In March, the government unveiled proposals to encourage people to cycle and walk more in England.

The Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy includes the ambition of doubling the number of people using bikes by 2025.

The government is now considering feedback on the draft plan.

The Department for Transport said it was spending £300m on cycling funding - as well as a further £500m for infrastructure in local communities.

"The number of people choosing to get about by bike has grown over recent years and, following the success of our Rio Olympians, we want to see this trend continue," a spokesman said.

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