THE UCI Cycling World Championships were simply dazzling. Over 11 days, a million people roared on competitors around the roads, trails, parks and stadiums of Scotland from Fort William to Dumfries. So many iconic sporting moments will be remembered on courses that were a stunning showcase of Scotland’s landscape and heritage. The “Power of the Bike” was the championship’s headline and it lived up to all expectations, powering up Scottish tourism and getting unprecedented global TV coverage.

The championship organisers should be rightly proud of how they managed and delivered such a world-class event. The city of Glasgow in particular can take a bow, but so too all those other partners, the 4000 or so volunteers and the Scottish Government.

There was something special about the feel of all the events I attended. Thousands of avid cycling fans from across the world were brought together with huge numbers of folk who were just inspired by what was happening right on their doorstep.

The events showed a confident Scotland, welcoming and at ease with itself. Many visitors I spoke to said how they will return again to explore our country. It bodes well for future events too. Hosting the Grand Départ of the Tour de France should be the next major target.

The National: Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky celebrates following victory in the Women’s Elite Road Race Belgium’s Lotte Kopecky celebrates following victory in the Women’s Elite Road Race (Image: Will Matthews)

Now the cowbells are packed away, thoughts turn to what the long-term legacy from the championships will be. Do major sporting events really encourage active, healthy lifestyles?

The evidence is mixed.

Previous cycling championships around the world have seen the image of cycling improve and better elite sports facilities built. However, that hasn’t always translated into people getting on their bikes to head to work or the shops. Can the Glasgow championships help build something deeper?

The Scottish Government has already established the £8 million Cycling Facilities Fund that’s putting in place some great projects on the ground. Pump tracks around the country in particular are springing up, including in rural communities. Pump tracks are important facilities not just to learn to ride and develop bike-handling skills – they are also good social spaces for young people to hang out together.

A new off-road tarmac circuit in West Lothian that was once just a dream for local cycling clubs is now turning into reality, while the newly completed mountain bike tracks at Glenlivet are getting rave reviews.

An additional £1.4m has funded 42 community-run events across Scotland that celebrate the Power of the Bike, helping councils push on with their cycle promotion work. Meanwhile, another £3.9m has been targeted at programmes to help people access bikes, get skills training, set up community bike-share schemes and target improvements for cycle facilities at railway stations.

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However, creating a long-lasting legacy will take more than this short-term funding – it’s got to be part of a sustained shift in transport policy to make cycling accessible for everyone, at all levels. With Greens working in government, Scotland is now turning the corner, growing cycle investment to 10% of the total transport budget.

That’s a whopping commitment that will see Scotland start to rival the levels of spend per person seen in the Netherlands. Incremental changes such as 20mph speed limits, a ban on pavement parking and even Low Emission Zones can help make our urban areas more friendly for walking, cycling and wheeling.

While major projects such as the reopening of the Levenmouth rail line will link directly into planned new cycle networks. It’s a case of “build it and they will come” for these off-road segregated cycleways. Both Stirling and Glasgow were able to open well-designed, new segregated routes just ahead of the elite riders racing across their cities, but expectations are growing.

Around Stirling, for example, rural communities on the route of the World Champs time trial want to see a longer-distance cycle path built. The weight of expectation is on Stirling Council to finalise its cycle strategy and join up a fractured network that has seen little progress over the years and too many casualties on our rural roads.

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All these new facilities need to be accessible if we are to realise the Power of the Bike. Inclusion is important. The running of the para-cycling programme alongside other races in the World Champs was a great feature that will hopefully become permanent. I heard how a young girl at the track in Glasgow told world champion Jenny Holl how she now dreams of becoming a tandem pilot.

That’s the kind of positive aspiration needed. The stories of the para-athletes themselves were truly inspiring, showing how cycling can be a powerful route to recovery, rehabilitation and personal freedom. It’s that spirit that needs to be taken forward into the design of new facilities and programmes that are genuinely accessible to all cyclists and wheelers.

In fact, maybe these championships have shown how our cities, towns and villages can be redesigned to put crowds of people and bikes first and turn the car into the guest – that would be a truly lasting legacy.

We still have a long way to go to make Scotland a cycling nation, but the World Championships has raised the status of cycling. It’s now up to all decision-makers to seize the moment and build a true legacy on the back of this incredible summer.