The head of Durham Constabulary called a cycling sergeant a "single-issue zealot" for drawing up a 30-page police cycling policy, which he then scrapped.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, chief constable Mike Barton also said that “nervous” cyclists should not ride a bike.
He said: “We had a bicycle policy, so if police officers were riding a bike there was a policy. It was 30-odd pages.
“The sergeant who had written it, he was a single-issue zealot. I know that’s being rude.
“He wanted the world to be cyclists and he wanted them to be safe cyclists. So he was going to surround them with rules.
“I think page 32, he described how police bicycles shouldn’t be used as police pursuit vehicles.
“And you know, Bradley Wiggins doesn’t work for me, so the chances of one of my officers riding a bicycle chasing a car is frankly ludicrous, so why put it in a policy?
“So I just swept it aside. ‘Look’, I said, ‘if you’re nervous, do a Cycling Proficiency Test.
“If you’re really nervous even after that, don’t ride a bike.
“By the way, if you think you can get away with Lycra, by all means wear it, but I’m not telling you to. And deal with it with a bit of humour’.”
The comments have been widely criticised on Twitter, with many accusing the chief constable of not supporting his staff or vulnerable road users, such as cyclists.
The interview comes days after Derbyshire Constabulary released video footage of a cycling police officer involved in a bike chase through Derby.
A police community support officer stopped a suspect near a bike shelter outside a train station in Pride Park on 23rd August, who handed over a backpack containing bolt cutters and then fled by bike.
The officer quickly gave chase and pursued him along cycle paths until he was finally able to catch up on an incline and arrested the suspect.