Jamie Staff backs London cargo bike scheme

Olympian plans career as coach after quitting competitive cycling

Olympic gold medal winner Jamie Staff was back on his bike today despite announcing his retirement from competitive cycling this week.

But in place of his usual track machine was a cargo cycle – part of a new fleet of bikes being used by office products and services company Office Depot in London to replace van deliveries and reduce their carbon footprint.

The Beijing Olympics team sprint star won't be using his famous thighs for bike courier duties, though – he was just helping to launch the initiative. However, he said the new bikes were "great news for the sport as a whole and for the environment in London".

The 36-year-old former BMX world champion, who has retired due to a serious back injury, plans to become a cycling coach. Yesterday, he told the press: "I've accomplished all my goals in winning world and Olympic titles at two cycling disciplines. I now feel it's time to pass the challenge onto the younger members of the Great Britain squad in the lead-up to the London Olympics in 2012."

Jason Kenny is likely to take over his starter position in the squad. Staff said: "I feel that looking at the big picture I would struggle to compete with the best riders in the world at the London Olympics and be in a position to win the gold medal again."

The launch of Office Depot's new fleet outside London’s City Hall came as Royal Mail announced they were scrapping most of their delivery bikes for safety reasons. Ross Kavanagh, the company's UK and Ireland procurement and supply chain director, said: “The new cargo cycles will see three-quarters of our van deliveries cut from the City’s roads, reducing traffic in the Square Mile and cutting harmful emissions into the atmosphere."

Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London’s transport advisor, said: “We're creating a cycling revolution in London, with the mayor working to make ours the best big cycling city in the world. Cargo cycles could make a real contribution, showing that cycling is not just for commuters but for use in many other ways, including keeping London's deliveries moving. We'll be keen to see how they contribute to reducing traffic and emissions, and what lessons that could teach us.”

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