CYCLING legend Chris Boardman rode into town to open a two-wheeled venture which is on track to have a positive impact.

Former racing cyclist Chris Boardman MBE, who clinched gold at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and broke the world hour record three times, unveiled the new Positive Cycles shop in the town centre on Tuesday, declaring it a "true community project built around the two-wheeled cure".

The shop is the realisation of a two-year dream for Positive Steps, based in Union Street, especially manager and instigator Martin Sutton who launched the scheme of refurbishing unwanted bikes and turning them gleaming clean, green riding machines using the skills of Oldham Youth Justice Service, volunteers and staff.

It was driven by a desire to give young people new skills while offering residents an affordable transport solution and helping to tackle health issues such as obesity and mental health.

Since 2016 they've up-cycled 150 bikes which have either been sold affordably - or in some cases donated - to local families, young people and also job-seekers as part of the Transport for Greater Manchester “Bike Back to Work” scheme.

But they now have a shiny new premises on the edge of Tommyfield Market, in Albion Street, to showcase their service from selling secondhand bikes and bike hire including electric bikes to repairs, spares, guided bike rides and operating pop-up bike surgeries.

The shop also embodies the strength of community partnership, from Oldham Council donating the premises to First Choice Homes Oldham helping to refurbish and fit out the shop as well as part-funding an apprenticeship post to work there alongside Get Oldham Working.

The council's Community Safety and Cohesion Partnership has also assisted and Greater Manchester Police donated cash to instal a kitchen so the venue can become a hub to host initiatives for primary school children, young people and groups including the over 50s.

Chris, who is the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Cycling and Walking Commissioner, cut the ribbon and hailed the project as pioneering and innovative.

"The fact this is in the town centre of Oldham is brilliant," said Chris at a packed opening ceremony which included Oldham Council leader, Councillor Jean Stretton.

And echoing the sentiments of Positive Steps chief executive Steph Bolshaw that the initiative is about much more than bikes, he added: "I think the important thing about this project is it's not actually about bicycles.

"Bicycles are just a tool to use to deal with those issues be it health, anti-social behaviour - for all those things bikes are just the glue that pulls it all together.

"It's the most cost-accessible way to get around as well. If people haven't got much money bikes are a brilliant tool and the fact Positive Cycles has found a way to make that accessible is just amazing and it's a brilliant scheme."

Project leader Martin Sutton said: “This shop front presence will enable Positive Cycles to grow as a community project.

"We have been doing a great deal of work in and around Oldham over the past two years but the shop represents a real commitment to help more people either return to cycling or try it out.

"With our bike hire service, people can even try before they buy and as a social enterprise, any profits made by the shop are used to develop services further.”

Oldham Council Leader, Jean Stretton, said: “We are delighted to be teaming up with Positive Steps on such a progressive scheme, which will also occupy a currently empty unit - a good interim use of space before our proposed redevelopment of the town centre.

"Since it was set up Positive Cycles has helped out residents from different backgrounds and this move to Albion Street will help them reach even more residents.

"The scheme’s work with council service users, jobseekers and young offenders, for example, is helping people progress with their lives, plus there are the added benefits for the environment and helping people to get more active.”