British Olympic cycling gold medallists Laura Trott, Jason Kenny, Mark Cavendish and Owain Doull have joined former Olympians Chris Boardman and Sir Chris Hoy in writing to the prime minister, saying that the best way to honour their achievements in Rio is to invest in cycling.
In an open letter to British prime minister Theresa May dated Thursday, September 1, the Olympic cyclists collectively asked May to provide a ‘legacy of every-day cycling’ as the best way to honour their achievements.
Great Britain dominated the cycling events in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August, particularly the track disciplines. In total, GB amassed six gold, four silver and two bronze medals, helping the nation exceed its total medal tally from the ‘home’ Games in London in 2012.
May was widely reported as saying after the Games that there would be ‘no limits’ to the honours that would be handed to GB’s Rio medallists.
In the letter to May, GB’s cyclists call for five per cent of the government’s transport spending to be allocated to cycling to provide safe and efficient cycling infrastructure throughout the country.
“The best way to honour the achievements of our athletes would be to create a legacy of every-day cycling in this country – a place where cycling is the choice form of transport for people to get around in their daily lives,” says the letter.
“Investment in cycling as a form of transport isn’t purely an investment in cycle lanes. 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.”
A recent survey commissioned by British Cycling showed that 60 per cent of British parents are uncomfortable with letting their children use roads to cycle to school.
British Cycling policy advisor and 1992 Olympic individual pursuit gold medallist Chris Boardman has asked to meet up with May to discuss the issues further.
“Britain is the best elite cycling nation in the world – we’ve proved it at three successive Olympic Games – and yet we’re still massively lagging behind other nations in terms of every-day cycling,” said Boardman.
“How can it be right that we have so many Olympic champions but less than 2 per cent of Brits cycle regularly? We know why people aren’t cycling. The fact is that most will only ride a bike if they are separated from traffic on convenient, well-maintained routes.
“The ground work has been laid in that the government now legally has to come up with an investment strategy. But let’s see that published with a meaningful amount of money behind it. Under current proposals, investment will decline to less than £1 per head by the end of this parliament. This is a pitiful amount when you consider the £28 per head that is spent in the Netherlands on cycling.”
Full list of British Olympians who signed letter to Theresa May
Chris Boardman, policy adviser, British Cycling and Olympic gold medalist
Sir Chris Hoy, six-time Olympic gold medallist, joint most successful British Olympian
Laura Trott, four-time Olympic gold medallist and Britain’s most successful female Olympian
Jason Kenny, six-time Olympic gold medallist, joint most successful British Olympian
Mark Cavendish, Olympic silver medallist
Joanna Rowsell Shand, double Olympic gold medallist
Elinor Barker, Olympic gold medallist
Owain Doull, Olympic gold medallist
Becky James, double Olympic silver medallist
Katy Marchant, bronze medallist