OLYMPIAN Ed Clancy braved the rain on Wednesday with the Mayor of Barnsley and other councillors to officially open a new active travel path into the town centre.

The former gold-winning Team GB cyclist - who now serves as active travel commissioner for South Yorkshire - has been working hard over the past year to encourage fitness and physical activity across the county.

In Barnsley, his work has seen him running ‘RampUp’ cycling and scooter sessions to help youngsters get outside and try something new.

Now, with the help of Barnsley Council, he joined with Mayor Mick Stowe to open a new active travel route between Royston and the town centre.

Ed told the Chronicle: “Despite the weather, I was really thrilled to be there.

“I think this is what we need in South Yorkshire to address some of the health inequalities we’ve got.

“There’s been a lady who walked down here who’s come from Royston - we’re getting there and I’m very much enjoying the job.

“We have to go where the energy is.

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“There’s a good school focus around here.

“I think in the past where active travel has gone wrong is that a lot of the narrative is about wealthier types who are commuting to an economic centre.

“It’s not going to be like that here, and we’re listening to that and we’re taking note.

“We want to make active travel real and relevant for everyone from all sorts of different background and all sorts of different communities

“I think it’s going to be a lot more like this.

“People having an area where they can get out into green spaces and put one foot in front of another.”

The new route intends to respond to the growing demand for cycle and walking routes to places of work and education, while encouraging further access to nature.

Funding was secured from the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF), with £4.9m going towards developing the project.

“There’s four big things that can affect people’s health,” Ed added.

“Poor diet, too much alcohol, smoking and exercise - my role in active travel is about exercise so by opening up places like this so people have the capability and opportunity to act on it.

“When people are here they’re away from roads - people who are next to busy main roads experience the equivalent of passively smoking ten cigarettes a day.

“How many people in 2024 would want that for their children?”

Coun James Higginbottom, cabinet spokesperson for environment and highways, said: “I’m sure this will get well used by walkers, cyclists and residents alike.

“It’s all about putting the infrastructure in place to enable people to make the active choices and to choose a more active route of travelling.

“We’ve seen today people going passed. It’s not a particularly bright and sunny day, but people have been out here enjoying and using the cycle routes that we’ve got.

“It’s really great to see these things go from strength to strength.”