Mayor Dr Nik Johnson rescued a threatened multimillion Government to promote active travel across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

And he wants to appoint a cycling ‘tsar’ for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

The mayor said he had “tasked officers” to speak with all interested groups to set up a mayoral led active travel forum.

From this, he said, “I am seeking nominations for an independent cycling tsar for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to enable us to manage key issues locally”.

It follows the news from a week ago when the Government revealed it had held back any grant until it had received “further assurances”

Dr Johnson wrote to minister for transport “expressing my support and commitment to active travel measures”.

He also offered to meet the head of behaviour change within the cycling and walking team at the Department for Transport.

“I am pleased with the positive response confirming they will be in touch shortly to arrange that meeting.”

But Mayor Johnson added that he was “equally encouraged to hear that contact will be made within the next two weeks to confirm that all assurances have been met by the Combined Authority.

“Our indicative funding allocation can be confirmed.”

He said: “The Active Travel funding is fundamental to enable stimulus toward real change and I very much support it.”

Transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris had written to all councils and combined authorities pointing out the importance of active travel schemes.

He said cycling had seen a 46 per cent rise during the pandemic and in 2020 “we saw the highest level of cycling on the public highway since the 1960s.

“And we also have seen the greatest year on-year increase in post-war history.”

He also warned against prematurely ending schemes such as pop-up cycle lanes and other cycling friendly schemes which had been put in place during the pandemic.

“Schemes need time to be allowed to bed in and must be tested against more normal traffic conditions,” he said.

“We have no interest in requiring councils to keep schemes which are proven not to work, but that proof must be presented.

“Schemes must not be removed prematurely, or without proper evidence and too soon to collect proper evidence about their effects.”