SIR Chris Hoy has said the rise in bike ownership during the pandemic would benefit all road users and called on drivers and cyclists to be "less tribal".

The Edinburgh-born Olympic champion track cyclist said the UK had taken great strides in making its cities more accessible for bikes but said there was some way to go before cycling was "normalised" in the same way as in other European countries.

In places like Holland, he said cycling was "just a way to get around" with provision so well established and safe that many don't wear helmets, while here it is still associated with lycra and expensive kit.

He said the biggest hurdle in getting more people on two wheels was a belief that the roads are still not a safe place for cyclists.

READ MORE: Cycling soars by 80% in Scotland's most polluted city as infrastructure plan gathers pace 

Temporary lanes created by local authorities to accommodate extra cyclists and social distancing during lockdown have now been made permanent in some Scottish cities while Glasgow is currently overseeing the biggest cycling infrastructure project in the UK.

"For so long it's (cycling) been the answer to all our problems and it's staring us in the face," said Sir Chris.

"The positive spin-offs from cycling....reduced congestion, reduced pollution, the general health of the nation, work-forces arriving at the start of the day alert and ready to go...the politicians are starting to understand that.

"My dream is, that in 20 years time we can look back and see the same thing that happened in Holland or Denmark or Germany where you aren't a cyclist, you are just someone getting around.

"People need to be less tribal about it. People see themselves as cyclists or drivers when in my opinion we are just people trying to get around. 

"I think because the boom in cycling has come off sport, like the Tour de France, people buy all the gear but in other countries they don't cycle in lycra, a lot of people don't wear helmets.

They don't need to have 'high vis' clothing on because they are in segregated lanes going at 10miles an hour. They have lights on their bikes but they feel safe. It's just a normalised activity. 

READ MORE: 10 of Scotland's best cycling routes 

"Holland wasn't always a cycling country, the big push came in the 1970s. 

"I do think it is the answer and it is achievable but it won't happen overnight and it won't be an easy process. Any change comes up against resistance. 

"If you are absolutely determined never to ride a bike and all you want to do is drive a car then fair enough but if there are more people on bikes then there are less cars and drivers are going to benefit too. 

"The biggest barrier to people cycling to work or school is safety." he added. "If there is a collision between a cyclist and a car, it's the cyclist who is going to come off worst.

"We are all someone's husband, wife, son or daughter, we should be looking out for one another.

"You don't see the cyclist stopping at the red light, you only remember the ones that jump the lights in the same way that you only remember the white van that was aggressive."

The 46-year-old father-of-two said he felt fortunate that no one in his family had been affected by Covid and said he had relished the slower pace of life.

"Pre Covid my life was so busy, you are dashing about, you arrive back and dump your suitcase and you are spend as much time with the kids and your family as you can but now this year, I've been at home the whole time.

READ MORE: Cycling trebles in lockdown in some areas of Scotland as Scots look to improve mental health 

"As tough as it's been, it's been amazing to spend that time with the kids."

In the last few weeks Sir Chris has been involved in a UK-wide scheme to honour the sports volunteers and workers who have helped their communities during lockdown, through projects funded by The National Lottery.

He recorded a surprise "thank you" video for Kirsteen Torrance, a cycling development officer for Fife Council, who helped set up and run the Burntisland Emergency Action Team.

"The team delivered hundreds of meals and food parcels in the local area as well as collecting shopping and prescriptions.

"The council worker was presented with a new bike as a reward for her efforts.

"I was a little bit concerned she wouldn't recognised me because I've got a beard now but it was a fantastic reaction.

"She is quite an inspirational person. She's got a job, she's got a family but she still found the time and the energy to set up this emergency action group during lockdown to help the most vulnerable people in her community."