Three-time Olympic medallist and double track world cycling champion Rob Hayles unveiled new cycling facilities at Watford General Hospital yesterday.

The hospital now boasts a combined shower and changing unit, located next to secure bike storage "pods", a bike repair stand and tyre pump.

The project forms parts of the NHS trust’s commitment to sustainability, encouraging patients, visitors, doctors, nurses, midwives and other staff to cycle to the hospital.

The new facilities were paid for through a £31,000 grant from Hertfordshire County Council and £5,000 from public donations to the trust’s charitable fund.

The grant has come from the county council’s BigHertsBigIdeas scheme and is awarded through its Local Sustainable Transport Fund. Watford Cycle Hub have provided advice and support for the project.

Hayles said: "The cycle hub is an excellent resource for cyclists. I’m passionate about cycling, professionally and personally, and if the introduction of these facilities encourages more people to leave their cars at home and take up cycling, that’s excellent news for everyone."

Trust Chief Executive Samantha Jones said: "As part of our efforts to deliver more sustainable services and facilities, we want to make cycling as desirable and easy for our doctors, nurses and support staff, as well as patients and visitors, as possible. "The new cycle hub is absolutely key to this."

County councillor Terry Douris added: "Hertfordshire has some of the busiest roads outside of London and we’re keen to encourage people to use more sustainable methods of transport wherever and whenever possible.

"This is an excellent project showing just how well the BigHertsBigIdeas funding can be used in an innovative way to improve sustainable transport and local economic growth."

The size of two car parking spaces, and clad in sustainable cedar wood, the shower and changing unit is a permanent modular building specifically designed by Clearspace Buildings for the hospital.

Cyclepods Ltd supplied the pods, made out of recycled materials, which provide secure storage for 36 bikes, doubling the number that could previously be accommodated.

Watford Police Community Support Officers, who now have a base in the hospital, were at the event offering security marking for bikes.

Watford Cycle Hub is a community venture which provides advice and support, a training centre, a resource for planning cycle routes, a workshop and a sales space for recycled and reconditioned bikes at affordable prices.