Riding a bike can be associated with carefree childhood memories, family days out and exploring nature to name just a few things. A bike is practical and reliable way to travel whilst also contributing to society by providing access to cheap transportation. The invention of this sustainable means of transport is often overlooked and that’s where World Bicycle Day comes in!
What is it?
With the bicycle being founded around 200 years ago, it seems right to have a day to honour this mode of transport. World Bicycle Day recognises the role of the bike worldwide and the impacts it has had on humans. The UN describes it as ‘A day celebrating the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle, which has been in use for two centuries, and that it is a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transport’.
Professor Leszek Sibilski, a sociology professor at Montgomery College, campaigned with his students to create the celebration due to the bike’s contribution to human wellbeing. He wrote a blog post called ‘”Cycling is Everyone’s Business.” which was followed by another blog post a year later titled “Why is there no World Day for the Bicycle?”. These articles argued the relevance and importance of the bicycle to human health and the environment. The campaign was then supported by the Sustainable Mobility for All initiative, promoted by leading organisations in the transport sector. The campaign gained a larger momentum when Turkmenistan sponsored the resolution. On the 12th of April 2018, the United Nation’s General Assembly designated the 3rd of June as the annual day to celebrate bicycles. It was adopted by all 193 members.
Why is it important?
The designation of World Bicycle Day is important because it promotes affordable access to transport and allows people in poverty to undertake simple but crucial tasks such as collecting water and buying food. It is also significant because it can provide access to better education and jobs, therefore breaking the cycle of poverty.
The day also highlights the need for pedestrians and cyclists to be made a priority, which is something that is lacking in many cities worldwide. The designation encourages member states to devote attention to the bicycle through multi-level government policies and strategies such as improving road safety for users. Moreover, the sustainable development is encouraged through a focus on education, particularly physical education for children in addition to preventing disease and advocating for social inclusion. Member states are also prompted to support all members of society through bike initiatives and organised bike rides, especially at local levels to encourage a new lifestyle of cycling in the community.
What can we do?
Anyone can participate in World Bicycle Day, just using a bike is good start! Perhaps you could cycle to work, school or university, which will reduce travel costs whilst also promoting health and wellbeing. Many Studies have shown that cycling can lower your risk of developing cancer by 45% and lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by 46%. Not only are you supporting yourself but also helping the environment by reducing CO2 emissions. A double whammy!
Moreover, you can partake in organised bike rides such as Bike Week, which is running in the UK from 30th of May to the 5th of June. It centres around bringing people together whilst also raising awareness of the impact of cycling in the UK.
Another way to help is to spread awareness is through social media. By using the hashtag #WorldBicycleDay, you can increase engagement with the movement. After all, the day was designated because Professor Leszek Sibilski decided to write two pivotal blog posts.
If you want to donate, a way to contribute is to cycle schemes, particularly non-profits in developing nations to increase the number of bicycles. World Bicycle Relief is an international non-profit organisation that works with partners to fund Buffalo Bicycles for students, health workers and entrepreneurs in poverty.
A powerful course of action is to lobby local governments to improve and enhance cycling routes and mobility in the local area. A key area to progress is the accessibility of cycling in the community and therefore, it is important that concerns and ideas are voiced by local people to drive change.
It is important to note that anyone can get involved in World Bicycle Day, even if you don’t own a bike. This sustainable mode of transport is beneficial for everyone, through improving health and wellbeing as well as advocating for environment.
environment, sustainability, sustainable travel, travelling, United Nations, world bicycle day