Encouraging Britons to cycle to tackle obesity is a “no-brainer” and the initiative should have been implemented earlier, Olympic cycling gold medallist Chris Boardman has said.
Boardman, who also serves as Greater Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner, has backed the Government’s 12-week health plans set to be rolled out as part of the Prime Minister’s obesity strategy.
The British Cycling policy adviser said introducing more segregated lanes and better cycle infrastructure would “tick so many boxes” both physically and mentally as the country emerges from lockdown.
He told the PA news agency: “It’s clear that more people want to cycle, so many have discovered the benefits during lockdown and have seen improvements to their physical and mental wellbeing.
“By introducing more safe cycling routes, more people would be encouraged to continue cycling once lockdown ends and this would tick so many boxes, not just in fighting obesity and other inactivity-related diseases, but in tackling air pollution and mental ill-health.
“The Government gets a massive yes from me, and I’m not sure why this hasn’t been done sooner, it’s become a case of ‘why not?’
“It would be neglecting the health of the nation not to – it’s a cheap treatment to conditions such as type 2 diabetes.”
Boardman, who was awarded an MBE in 1992 for services to cycling, went on to say the appetite among Britons to transform the roads to accommodate for cycling routes outweighs the “vocal minority”.
He added: “The pandemic has given us the best time to try something like this, there’s no better opportunity.
“It could be a sort of try before you buy type thing, trialling the changes to the roads and if people change their minds we can revert back to the old system.”