"If people want to ride bikes, get everything out of their way and we’re all going to benefit."...

Bikes should be available for free on the NHS for overweight people, says Chris Boardman, and the government should do everything it can to "get everything out of the way" of allowing people to ride.

The Tour de France yellow jersey holder and 1992 Olympic gold medallist told The Sun that giving overweight people bikes would be more effective than paying for them to go to the gym.

He said: "The problem with those solutions is that they bolt on to your life so they’re a chore.

"If you can build an activity almost subconsciously into getting around then it happens organically. And that’s sustainable.

"If I want to go to the gym I come in some nights and I’m tired and I can’t be bothered. If when I come in I’ve just done three or four miles home, I’ve already done my exercise.

"The vast majority of journeys in this country are less than five miles. Thirty per cent are less than two miles and still the preference is to make them by car.

"So if it becomes part of the fabric of my life I’m going to do it.

"The Department of Health should be screaming at the top of its voice and banging on doors saying for God's sake if people want to ride bikes, get everything out of their way and we’re all going to benefit."

Boardman said last year that cycling is, "the answer to so many problems … Health, transport, pollution, all of those issues are solved with this simple machine."

In that interview he added: "If cycling isn't made the easiest possible option for people then they will choose the easiest option because that's what they do."

Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum, supported Boardman. He told the Daily Mail cycling would help overweight Brits keep their weight down.

Fry said: "Bicycling helps all the muscle groups. It is a brilliant exercise."

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.