Alistair Brownlee MBE becomes Leeds' first Active Travel ambassador
Olympic triathlete Alistair Brownlee has been unveiled as the face of a new campaign to get Leeds commuters out of cars and on their bikes.
The double-Olympic champion and MBE, who is from Bramhope, cycled part of the new £7.9m cycle superhighway on Thursday and spoke of ways more people can get moving.
It comes as Leeds City Council implement more cycle routes through the CityConnect programme, adding an extra 4km of segregated lanes
Spearheading the council's Active Travel campaign, Alistair said even cycling to nearby train stations or leaving the car at home for just one day a week can have benefits.
The 33-year-old said: "As someone who trains nearly every day on the roads of Leeds and used to cycle to school, I am really passionate about promoting the opportunities that are available for people to be able to cycle or walk as part of their day-to-day journeys."
He added: "There are some people out there who do crazy commutes. I see people riding in from Otley and Ilkley and even further afield at all kinds of times in the morning so it is possible but evidently not for everyone.
"If you use that as an example, you could potentially do a commute from Otley by cycling to Menston train station. There's ways of mixing and matching it all - it's definitely possible.
"It might seem completely unachievable to ride a bike in from, say, Morley, but you could try it once a week and do that for a few weeks. Then maybe find a route and then in a couple of months' time try it twice a week.
"We have to try breaking it down and make it seem achievable for people, and then if in a year's time if you're managing to do that kind of commute and you're increasing your activity by a few hours a week, then you've achieved something fantastic."
Building is to soon commence on the first phase of the orbital cycle highway, running round the outer ring road between Roundhay and Alwoodley.
The Connecting Leeds initiative aims to see £270m invested in public transport by March 2021, while also encouraging more active commutes with the addition of further cycling routes along key bus corridors.
Leader of Leeds City Council Judith Blake said she was thrilled to have the backing from Alistair Brownlee.
She said: "Alistair has always been a great advocate for Leeds, and from our conversations with him, it is clear that he has a real passion for this agenda. Having him therefore as an ambassador will not only be a great boost in helping us to spread the message of what we are doing through Active Travel campaign, but also to encourage more people to participate."