Six-time Olympic champion says conditions are improving - but progress is slow

Sir Chris Hoy has expressed fears that more cyclists will be killed on Britain’s roads before politicians commit themselves fully to improving the safety of riders.

Speaking to The Independent at the launch of his new range of children’s bikes under his Hoy brand, the six-time Olympic champion said that while some progress was being made, “there can always be more done to improve safety on the roads.

“It has become an issue because of the popularity of cycling – in a way it takes headlines and awful accidents to really get the attention of the people that can make these decisions that can improve the environment for cycling.

“I remember Chris Boardman saying change is painful and takes time and it’s not going to be an easy process and I think he’s absolutely right.

“To get to the stage where we’re like Holland, Denmark or Germany where cycling is integrated into road provision, where there are plans put into place for cycling, where there are bike paths, junctions that are thoughtful for all traffic users, that will take time.

“When the people in power realise the benefits of cycling in terms of reducing congestion and improving the health of the nation it seems like an obvious thing to do – but then I’m a cyclist.

“At the end of the day you want everyone – cyclists and drivers – to get from A to B as safely as possible.”

The issue of cycle safety came under the national spotlight in 2012 with The Times launching its Cities fit for Cycling campaign, which led to a parliamentary debate on the subject followed, last year, by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group’s Get Britain Cycling report.

Hoy said: “Just the very fact that it’s being discussed in the national press is a good start - we are getting somewhere but there is still a massive way to go.

“We are a very congested small island, but all the more reason to putting cycling at the forefront. We can reduce the number of other vehicles on the road and get more bikes on the road.”

In the interview, Hoy also spoke about his bike brand, launched last year following his retirement from cycling, saying: “The business is filling a massive hole in my life – if you don’t have something you are passionate about and can get your teeth into when you’ve been a professional sportsman for a number of years you can struggle. Lots of athletes have talked about that.”

Last week, Halfords confirmed it had bought the Boardman Bikes brand, with the transaction reportedly valued at between £10 million and £15 million, although Hoy has no plans of a quick sale.

“Realistically I’m in this for the long haul,” he said. “If someone came along and offered you a ridiculous amount of money you’d be stupid not to but then with that you could set up a new business. I like to think in 10 years’ time I’ll still be doing this and the range will have become one of the biggest brands in the UK and we’ll have gone worldwide by that point.”

He also shared his thoughts on Sir Bradley Wiggins’ likely absence from Team Sky’s line-up at the Tour de France, although team principal Sir Dave Brailsford insists that no decision will be taken until after the Tour de Suisse.

Hoy said: “Everyone’s disappointed. Everyone would love to see Bradley racing in the UK in the Tour but I suppose what we don’t know is what goes on behind the scene with managers and inter-team relationships.

“Dave must have decided the best chance of winning the Tour was with someone other than Bradley, which seems amazing when you think about it: how can you leave out someone with his pedigree and performance?

“But there’s always method in Dave’s madness,” he went on. “It’s not to say he couldn’t win it with Bradley, absolutely not, all teams would be crying out for someone like Bradley on their team but Dave has made that call with Chris Froome and the team around Chris that he feels can best support him to win the tour.

“It is a shame for the fans but sport is ruthless. If Chris Froome is in yellow on the last day on the Champs Elysées I think people will forget that and say it was the right call to make,” he added.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.


jacknorell [995 posts] 3 years ago

"before politicians commit themselves AT ALL to improving the safety of riders."

Fixed your intro.

Brooess [85 posts] 3 years ago

Sadly I think he's right. I've done a lot of different sports in my life which carry a strong element of risk of injury or death - but cycling is the only one where I routinely get abused by the general public or the risk is one created primarily by other people's actions rather than my own misjudgement...

Every single ride, whether a commute or club ride there's several chances to get seriously hurt from a driver or pedestrian's aggression or misjudgement, which only my own paranoia and alertness keep me safe from...

Fear is the main reason given in surveys for would-be riders not taking up cycling as a sport or form of transport. Most people are fat or obese in the UK, 1000's die of obesity and pollution-related diseases every year, which safe cycling could go long way to sorting out... and still barely anything of any significance has been done.

Last week a lady driver was charged with attempted GBH when she wrecked someone's business trying to hit a cyclist who she had an argument with - I never thought I'd see the day when a story like that would be in the news, and there's barely been a murmer about it from the general public, police or government

bikebot [2118 posts] 3 years ago
Airzound wrote:

Maybe Hoy realises that showing some sort of empathy for the plight of everyday riders, commuters, he might sell a few more bikes, but this is being far too cynical isn't it? Hoy had embarked on a new career in GT super car racing so presumably he would like his Hoy bike venture to be a nice little earner?

Correct, that is far too cynical.

CarlosFerreiro [121 posts] 3 years ago

“At the end of the day you want everyone – cyclists and drivers – to get from A to B as safely as possible.”

Unfortunately people actually want to get from A to B as conveniently as possible with what they judge as an acceptable amount of risk. People will routinely justify not following Highway Code guidance that would improve safety on the basis that it would be too inconvenient.
That is not SO bad while the increased risk applies directly to the person choosing to take the risk, unfortunately for the cyclist, the risk that a driver considers acceptable is often low to the driver and higher to the cyclist.

antonio [1168 posts] 3 years ago

I would sign up Hoy and Boardman for the 'Level Head and Common Sense' movement.