By ADA ADAMCZAK
KIDS need their heroes, to dream to become the best, to look up to those who have hit the heights.
National idols make kids interested in sport. Tennis has Andy Murray, football has Kenny Dalglish and cycling has Sir Christ Hoy.
An 11-times world champion and six-times an Olympic champion. Hoy has became Scotland’s most successful Olympian, and the most successful Olympic cyclist of all time.
But will Scotland be able to raise another Chris Hoy? And if yes, how long will the people need to wait?
Cycling in many countries is a part of people’s everyday life. In 2014 there were over 13 million bikes in Netherlands in a population of over 16 million people.
That’s almost one bike per person and that that has gone DOWN from the numbers from 2012. Then there were over 18 million bikes, 1.3 bikes per person!
About 32 per cent of Dutch people consider bikes as their first mode of transport.
Kids are taught from an early ride how to ride bikes. They also travel alone to school from a young age.
Even in the smallest town there is a cycling club that both kids and adults may participate in.
The idea of cycling is brought to kids from the earliest ages, which may be the reason why in Netherlands the sport is so popular.
Kirsty Mackay, who runs classes at South Ayrshire Active Schools, believes that for progress in any sport we should start with kids:
She reasoned: “We need to remember that interest from any sport starts from when you are a kid.
“If you give a child a bike and teach him to ride it, that may be their first steps as a future professional.”
Comparing Scotland to Netherlands may seem unfair. The Netherlands is mostly a flat country with no major mountains, which makes it easier to cycle.
Yet Kirsty pointed out: “Most people have noticed that it is cheaper for them to travel by bike than by car or train. Money is a very good reason to change to a bike.
“There are also more people who are concerned about their health. Cycling seems like the easiest and the most practical exercise, which would keep you healthy and in good shape.”
The statistics, however, still does not look good for Scotland. According to a survey by the European Commission, only 4% of UK respondents cycle daily.
Along with Luxembourg and Spain, it is the lowest score in all the 28 European countries. The only two countries, which have a worse percentage, are Cyprus (2%) and Malta (1%).
Cycling UK have detailed statistics about how bikes are used in Scotland:
Even though the percentages are very similar to each other it is visible that most of the people use bikes as a means of transport, rather than just for a pleasure.
Kirsty believes that the reason for such low statistics may be the fact that there are not enough cycling clubs in Scotland, which would encourage people to cycle more.
She said: “ Comparing to other countries, just like the Netherlands, it is visible that Scotland do not have enough clubs.
“Cycling is also not as much promoted as other sports. I believe that if it was more commercialised and promoted there would be more interest.”