The public have voted to rename a south west London cycle route ‘Maurice Burton Way’ in honour of Britain’s first black cycling champion.
The CS7 cycle superhighway from Collier Wood to Cannon Street will be named after three-time national cycling champion Maurice Burton, as part of a wider cycle lane naming campaign.
Burton, who now owns the De Ver cycle shop in Streatham, said: “It brought a smile to my face, put it that way.
“I think quite a few people voted for me from within cycling world. It’s a great thing.”
The name suggestion for ‘Maurice Burton Way’ was put forward by Jack Barber after he saw Burton interviewed as part of Black History Month.
Barber said: “This competition felt like one small way of giving Maurice Burton the positive public recognition he deserves as both a champion and as a pillar of the cycling community.”
Burton, 65, won three British national track championships between 1973 and 1975 but was not selected to for the 1976 Olympics and moved to Belgium to pursue his career.
He moved to Ghent in his early 20s and raced professionally, sometimes earning over £2000 a week.
Reflecting on the racial prejudice that he suggests limited his career in Britain, Burton said: “Even with three British titles behind me I wasn’t even underscored, never mind about going to Montreal 1976 Olympics.
“So that caused a few issues. But I didn’t get angry. I just decided that for me to move forward I had to bypass these people altogether.
“I believe in life you have to work with the cards that you’re dealt and do the best with what you have got. That is what I always try to do.”
Burton’s father arrived in London from Jamaica as part of the Windrush generation and recently passed away at the age of 101.
Burton said: “He wanted me to be doctor or a lawyer, or something like that. He couldn’t really see the sense in cycling.
“It’s only a pity that my dad passed away at the end of October so he didn’t get to know about the cycle lane.”
Burton’s son, Germain, is also a keen cyclist and has represented Great Britain at youth level.
Burton explained that his son has not experienced the same barriers he did but added that British Cycling can still do more.
He said: ‘If they want to make the sport more diverse, they need to try to attract youngsters like my son, but whose parents are not involved in cycling.
“So they need to go into schools. They’re not working hard enough to bring people into the sport.”
Although improving diversity continues to be a priority for British Cycling, they accept that more needs to be done.
In response to Burton’s comments, a spokesperson from British Cycling said: “Improving diversity in cycling has been a clear priority for British Cycling for many years.
“While we have made significant advances in some areas, particularly in narrowing the gender gap, there is still a great deal to do.”
British Cycling recently announced plans for new, long-term projects to tackle diversity gap within the sport.