Former professional cyclist Chris Boardman takes on council role to promote cycling and walking in Manchester

Chris Boardman has been appointed as Greater Manchester’s first cycling and walking commissioner.

The Olympic gold medallist and former professional rider will help to oversee initiatives that aim to increase journeys undertaken by bike in the area from two per cent to 25 per cent by 2025 as part of promoting healthy alternatives to car journeys.

Boardman, 49, said that he is “excited and daunted by the responsibility” of the position “in equal measure”.

“My first priority will be to pull together all the people who need to be involved in making cycling and walking viable, attractive and important part of the transport network in Greater Manchester,” Boardman said in a statement.

“Cycling isn’t currently a big part of how people get around in the region but surveys have showed there is real desire to ride more, if we create an attractive, safe environment.”

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Since retiring from professional cycling in 2000, Boardman has continued to be heavily involved in a several aspects of cycling, including creating his own Boardman bike brand, campaigning for cycle safety and being involved with the British cycling team in a support role.

“With my background in sport, I’m a big fan of setting targets, being measured and being held accountable for results,” said Boardman. “I’m going to spend several weeks talking to people to understand the landscape for cycling in Greater Manchester before setting a number of goals we want to achieve and timescales.”

Boardman was appointed by Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham as part of the Greater Manchester Moving Plan.

“I am a big believer in physical activity because it has a positive impact on both physical and mental health,” said Burnham. “Going from inactivity to activity is often one of the easiest and most positive lifestyle changes people can make.

“We need to encourage the people in our city region to move more, to cycle and walk and maximise the contribution to being a healthy society.”

Boardman’s cycling career spanned the 1990s, during which time he won three Tour de France stages, wore the Tour’s yellow jersey, was 1992 Olympic pursuit champion and took three world titles on the track and road.