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More facilities would improve British cycling, says Rowsell-Shand

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An increase in the number of indoor velodromes and outdoor road circuits would give British cycling the platform to improve further according to Joanna Rowsell-Shand.

The World Championships and London 2012 Olympic gold medallist acknowledged that while cycling had “boomed” in recent years both in term of grassroots participation and elite achievement in the wake of a highly successful Olympic Games four years ago, an increase in quality facilities would be the catalyst for continued improvement.

Talking to Sports Management during a press event hosted by Wattbike, Rowsell-Shand said: “I’d like to see more facilities in the UK. We’ve currently got five indoor velodromes, but [I want] more road circuits. There are facilities in Hillingdon and Lea Valley in London which are really good for teaching youngsters or beginners of any age.

“It must be so easy to build tarmac roads, I don’t understand why we don’t have more of them,” she added. “More closed-road facilities without traffic is really important for developing all sorts of grassroots level cyclists.”

Rowsell-Shand’s sentiments echo observations made within British Cycling’s 2013-17 strategy. According to the governing body the “lack of sustainable multi-discipline cycling facilities throughout Britain is the single biggest barrier to young people”.

British Cycling made the commitment to “support clubs and groups who wish to develop new, or improve existing, facilities and infrastructure”. Sport England has set aside £7m (US$10.1m, €9m) over the four-year period to improve the landscape.

Rowsell-Shand – who also picked up an Individual Pursuit gold medal during the 2014 Commonwealth Games – suggested that employers could facilitate improvements in cycling participation numbers by making it easier for staff members to ride their bikes to work.

“People talk a lot about safety when cycling to work, but something I’ve always thought about is the logistics of it,” she said. “If you cycle to work you need somewhere to put your bike and to get showered and changed, and a locker to keep your stuff in. It’s about being able to get ready for your day and keep your bike securely.”

According to Sport England Active People Survey figures, there are just over 2m people in the country riding bikes regularly, up from 1.7m in 2006.

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An increase in the number of indoor velodromes and outdoor road circuits would give British cycling the platform to improve further according to Joanna Rowsell-Shand.
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Rowsell-Shand (right) won a gold medal in the Team Pursuit at the London 2012 Olympic Games / Press Association
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