GLASGOW is aiming to make cycling the biggest participatory activity in the city by 2020 as part of an ambitious bid to capitalise on the sport's surge in popularity.

The city council has appointed councillor and former Scottish sports minister Frank McAveety as a cycling czar to co-ordinate efforts to meet the target. He will publish an updated strategy later this year to encourage commuting, racing and leisure cycling.

The move follows Scotland's joy at the Olympic exploits of Sir Chris Hoy and the prospect of top-level track cycling and mountain biking at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Mr McAveety said: "We are looking for ways we can drive forward radical change for cycling in the city.

"We realise there are obstacles. 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."

Mr McAveety, a former Glasgow council leader who lost his Holyrood seat in the SNP landslide in 2010 and returned to the City Chambers last year, admitted he had a "love/hate relationship" with bikes but said he was determined to see cycling overtake walking, football, swimming and dancing as Glaswegians' favourite healthy activities.

At present about 5000 journeys per day are made in and out of Glasgow city centre by bike.

The figure is up 50% compared with three years ago, but cycling still accounts for less than 2% of all commuting to work.

To the surprise of some cyclists, Glasgow emerged as the sixth- most bike-friendly place in the UK in a survey earlier this year for Virgin Money.

The list of 60 towns and cities – based on a range of criteria including bike thefts, accidents, cycle routes and bike-repair centres – was topped by Plymouth, followed by Norwich and Bristol.

Edinburgh, Scotland's only other entry, was in 25th place, but Katharine Taylor, of transport campaign group Sustrans Scotland, said: "Glasgow's cycling provision is patchy.

"There are wonderful routes along the Clyde and canals, but there are no dedicated routes at all in the city centre. We have an officer embedded with the council in Edinburgh to deliver their cycling strategy and we would like to work much more closely with Glasgow because we believe there is scope for improvement.

"Consideration should be given to reallocating road space, traffic lights that give priority to cyclists and other imaginative initiatives. There is no reason why Glasgow can't hit these ambitious targets. The public is behind cycling and the time is right. But it will have to start now."

Last week, The Herald revealed the new Sir Chris Hoy velodrome in the east end of Glasgow is to host its first international races in November, while another 2014 Games venue, the Cathkin Braes mountain biking course, will open early next year, also well ahead of schedule.