Chris Boardman calls for free bikes on the NHS

"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."

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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