Leeds City Council has announced that triathlete and double Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee MBE will be the city's first Active Travel ambassador.
Mr Brownlee will add his support to initiatives, projects and infrastructure projects being undertaken through the city's Active Travel campaign, which aims to encourage more people to incorporate walking and cycling into their day-to-day journeys.
The double gold medalist joins a growing list of active travel ambassadors for major cities with international cycling backgrounds. Former Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman is Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner, while former BMX and track cycling world champion Shanaze Reade, who recently returned to track cycling fills the same role for the West Midlands.
Former swimmer and cyclist Dame Sarah Storey, who is Britain's most successful female Paralympian, is active travel commissioner for the Sheffield City Region.
The council said it will now be working with him on the make-up of the role, and ‘to ensure it fits in around the continuing demands of his busy training and competing schedule’.
Judith Blake (centre of picture) with Alistair Brownlee to her left
Mr Brownlee has already added his support to the introduction of new cycle routes and facilities in Leeds, as part of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority's CityConnect programme.
After riding a segment of the new £7.9m city centre cycle superhighway, he was joined by local councillors including city council leader Cllr Judith Blake.
Mr Brownlee, 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.’
Cllr Blake 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 a be 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.'
The council said its new route has added an extra 4km of segregated cycle lanes to the city’s cycle network, with proposals for a further 6km of new cycle superhighways through the CityConnect programme.
It added that it will soon start to build phase one (4.8km) of the orbital cycle highway. This forms part of a city-wide programme which has set out the ambition to create over 800km of network. The city now has 172km of cycle network.