Former Olympic 800 and 1,500 metres champion Dame Kelly Holmes says MPs are not qualified to debate cycle safety in Parliament until they have ridden on Britain's roads.
Speaking ahead of the House of Commons debate on the Get Britain Cycling report on 2 September, Dame Kelly, who won her Olympic gold medals at Athens in 2004, said that politicians needed to lead by example; and that meant getting out of their cars and onto two wheels.
She told The Times (£): “One way is to get everybody out there and let them cycle and see for themselves from a cyclist’s perspective what the issues actually are.
“You can’t debate the subject unless you’ve been on a bike yourself and know the issues that are involved with safer cycling.
“As a politician, if you are going to talk about getting people into healthier lifestyles then you have to lead by example. Boris Johnson does, so why can’t the others?”
Currently acting as an ambassador for Sustrans' Pedal On UK bike ride , Dame Kelly says cycling makes up the majority of her fitness training now she no longer competes.
She went on: “If you’re just going a couple of miles down the road, it would be more beneficial to go by bike than sitting in a car in a traffic jam for two miles.
“You’d get there quicker, it would be cheaper for you, you might enjoy it and it would be part of your normal fitness regime as well.”
MPs from across the political spectrum will debate the Get Britain Cycling report when they return from summer recess in September.
The recommendations they will mull over include:
More of the transport budget should be spent on supporting cycling, at a rate initially set to at least £10 per person per year, and increasing as cycling levels increase
Cycling should be considered at an earlier stage in all planning decisions, whether transport schemes or new houses or businesses
More use should be made of segregated cycle lanes, learning from the Dutch experience
Urban speed limits should generally be reduced to 20 mph
Just as children learn to swim at school, they should learn to ride a bike
The government should produce a detailed cross-departmental Cycling Action Plan, with annual progress reports.
The report was published after a six-week long inquiry hosted by the Al Party Parliamentary Cycling Group at the Palace of Westminster earlier this year, and outlines how a goal of 10 per cent of journeys being made by bike by 2025 can be achieved.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.