Former Scottish Sports Minister tasked to boost cycling in Glasgow ahead of 2014 Commonwealth Games
Thursday, 23 August 2012
August 23 - Glasgow City Council has appointed former Scottish Sports Minister Frank McAveety to boost cycling in the city ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Cycling has enjoyed a huge boost in popularity across the UK following Britain's success at elite level which this year saw Bradley Wiggins win the Tour de France and Team GB take an astonishing 12 medals at the London 2012 Olympics, eight of which were gold.
There is particular interest in Scotland after Sir Chris Hoy (pictured top, leading) won two gold medals at London 2012 to take his overall tally to six golds and a silver, making him Britain's greatest ever Olympian.
Sir Chris is likely to bow out of the sport at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the velodrome that has been named after him and McAveety has been tasked with making the sport popular amongst normal Glaswegians in a similar way Mayor of London Boris Johnson has done with Londoners through initiatives such as his Boris Bike scheme.
McAveety will publish an updated strategy later this year to encourage commuting, racing and leisure cycling.
"We realise there are obstacles," said the 50-year-old councillor for Shettleston.
"Commuters face potholes and, often, a lack of consideration from motorists.
"Youngsters who want to take up competitive cycling might struggle to find proper coaching, but these are the things we want to address."
There has been 50 per cent growth in bike riding in Glasgow city centre during the past three years but cycling still only accounts for two per cent of commuter trips.
It is hoped that McAveety will be able to increase this although some will be surprised by his appointment as the former Sports Minister has often been a figure of controversy.
In 2004, he was forced to apologise for misleading Parliament when he turned up late for a question time claiming to have been unavoidably detained on ministerial business.
It was later discovered that he was actually eating pie, beans and roast potatoes in the Parliament canteen.
The incident was dubbed "pie-gate" and is said to have led then First Minister Jack McConnell to sack him from his Cabinet later that year.
Major controversy struck again in June 2010 when McAveety was forced to resign as Convenor of the Scottish Parliament's Public Petitions Committee after being overheard making comments about a female member of the audience during a break in committee proceedings because he had not switched off his microphone.
With his microphone still on, McAveety said: "There's a very attractive girl in the second row, dark and dusky.
"We'll maybe put a wee word out for her."
August 2012: First event at Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome sells out in 25 minutes
August 2012: Seating capacity increased at Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome after pre-sale sell out first event
August 2012: Tickets go on sale for first event at Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow
June 2012: Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome to host UCI World Cup event
September 2008: Hoy's father said he would not have named velodrome after his son