Former Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman has been named head of a Government agency dedicated to improving cycling and walking infrastructure in England.

Boardman, who won gold in the 1992 Olympics for the individual pursuit cycling event and raced in the Tour de France, has been named as the first head of Active Travel England (ATE).

ATE is responsible for managing the national active travel budget, awarding funding to projects that improve health and air quality.

It will approve and inspect active travel schemes, and identify failings in highways which are dangerous for vulnerable road users.

The new body will also help spread good practice in design, implementation and public engagement in relation to new infrastructure.

Oxford Mail: Active Travel England will attempt to improve cycling and walking infrastructure in England (PA)Active Travel England will attempt to improve cycling and walking infrastructure in England (PA)

Councils will be judged for how well they make space for cycling and walking and could lose funding if they try to install substandard schemes such as paint-only bike lanes, or delay work.

Boardman has previously worked with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham as the city's first Cycling and Walking Commissioner in 2017 and then Transport Commissioner in May 2021.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast on why he took on the role he said: “Just over a decade ago now my youngest daughter asked me a question that changed things dramatically.

“She said: ‘Can we ride to the park?’

“I went to measure it (the journey) after, because I’m quite geeky, and it was 549 metres, and I said no.

“She wanted to do it, and I wanted her to do it, and I thought, that’s not right.

“I don’t feel like I can keep my daughter safe for two minutes, and that’s not right. It just didn’t feel comfortable," he added.