Last weekend I joined the crowds in Manchester to watch the climax of this year’s Tour of Britain. One thing that struck me was how great it was to see so many kids there – meeting the stars, getting an autograph and even having a picture next to the winning bike.

It was won by Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel, who at 24 is certainly someone these kids can relate to rather than the grizzled beasts who dominated pro-cycling when I was their age. His win crowned a summer when youth certainly made its mark on world cycling and saw the fantastic Colombian Egan Bernal win the Maillot Jaune in Paris aged just 22.

It was all incredibly inspirational, and I’m sure some of the kids there that day will end up being the ones standing on the podium in years to come.

Unfortunately, though, young people in general remain incredibly inactive. A recent Sport England report showed that one in three children does fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity a day. And this is half the amount recommended by government guidelines. Another study has found that children are weaker and less fit than they were 10 years ago.

This is such an incredible shame and means we are storing up health problems for the future. It’s also why campaigns, like Sustrans’ Bike to School week which starts on September 23, are so important. Not only does it teach simple bike maintenance but also how to ride safely, choose a safe route, and the health and environmental benefits of cycling. It also gives advice on how to ‘bling up your bike’.

Sustrans have their work cut out. According to Cycling UK just one per cent of primary school children and three percent of secondary kids cycle to school. Many walk, but still a big chunk (44 per cent and 24 per cent travel by car). I can understand if there is some distance to travel. However, many parents won’t let their kids cycle due to the perceived dangers on our roads.

As a parent I can understand this. But we somehow need to break the vicious circle. When visiting the Netherlands I was so impressed with how everyone got about on bikes. Whole families went into town together, for instance, rather than going by car.

Cycling in Holland is much safer than in the UK. The facilities are better, but also as most people have a bike, people understand the dangers of cycling and drive (and ride) accordingly, thereby making the roads safer for all. In the UK as so few drivers also use a bike, there is often little appreciation of the dangers on our roads – not helped by some in our media who like to present cyclists at war with motorists.

So for me, if we can get more kids (and adults) on their bikes then this benefits everyone and will create a generation of better drivers and cyclists. And, maybe, one day we’ll have our very own West Cumbrian tour winner.