On 12th April 2018, all 193 United Nations member states adopted a resolution at the 72nd session of General Assembly– General Assembly Resolution A/Res/72/272, to declare 3rd June as the “World Bicycle Day”, to be observed annually. The resolution was greatly supported by Turkmenistan. The idea for a global “World Bicycle Day” was propagated by Leszek J. Sibilski, a professor of sociology and a former member of the Polish National Olympic Cycling Team.
World Bicycle Day 2019
World Bicycle Day 2019 was celebrated on Monday, 3rd June 2019.
The day was observed by all the bicycle enthusiasts across the globe with great excitement and fun. The aim of the event mainly focused on devoting particular attention to the bicycle in the current era of automobiles.
In Kochi, the Kochi Cycling Club conducted a bicycle rally on 02nd June ahead of World Bicycle Day. The theme of the rally was the same as the SOS Children’s Village of India, #NoChildAlone. The rally was flagged off by the District Police Commissioner and it got concluded at Fort Kochi.
The Smart Commute Foundation (SCF) organized the 6th edition of cyclothon in Mumbai on the occasion of the World Bicycle Day. The event named ‘Get Cyclone 2019’ invited the bicycle lovers across the city to take part in the event.
A Bangalore based NGO, Citizens for Sustainability, organized an event ‘Keep Me Safe’ on 02nd June. The event comprised of 5 and 10 km ride near Cubbon Park to make people aware of the benefits of cycling and how it could help to improve our health as well as the environment.
History of World Bicycle Day – the Man Who Made it Happen
The man behind the observance of “World Bicycle Day” is Professor Leszek J. Sibilski. He had been a member of the Polish national cycling team for ten years. He also worked as a sports reporter, covering major cycling events throughout the globe. He is also a social activist and had been advocating in the UN, the rights for persons with disabilities.
Three years prior to the announcement of “World Bicycle Day”, Professor Sibilski embarked on an academic project to study the role of bicycles in development. He had little idea that the project would inspire a massive advocacy effort to have the United Nations designate a day to promote the use of bicycles around the world.
It all began with Sibilski’s two blogs. The first one he wrote in February 2015. The blog was titled “Cycling is Everyone’s Business”. The second blog came a year later and is supposed to have hit the mark. The second blog was titled- “Why is there no World Day for the Bicycle”.
Two weeks later in his second blog Professor, Sibilski got an opportunity to present his case for “World Bicycle Day” at a “Scientists for Cycling” conference in Taipei, Taiwan. The presentation was effective and fruitful, as the conference recognized that the declaration of a “World Bicycle Day” was indeed justified.
The cause was hugely supported by Turkmenistan, whose officials at the UN worked hard in cooperation with Professor Sibilski to make the “World Bicycle Day” a reality. Finally, on 12th April 2018, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution designating the 3rd of June as the “World Bicycle Day”.
First World Bicycle Day – UN
The United Nations celebrated the first world Bicycle Day on Sunday, 3rd June 2018, at the UN General Assembly in New York City.
UN officials, diplomats, cyclists, and athletes, expressed their views on a bicycle and its advantages. They acknowledged the role of the bicycle as a tool to promote and achieve Sustainable Development Goals of 2030.
The CEO of the World Bicycle Relief, an organization that promotes the use of the bicycle as a mobilization and empowerment tool, stressed the fact that a bicycle could be a catalyst for holistic development.
A young student belonging to Namibia, in southwest Africa, gave his view on how the bicycle is changing lives in Namibia. He further said that the students in his village, who have to walk for miles to go to school, can easily reach now in much less time, due to the bicycles.
With nearly a billion people not having access to any kind of paved road, the bicycle is a blessing as it provides mobilization, said the World Bank Program Manager.
The man primarily responsible for “World Bicycle Day”, Dr. Leszek J. Sibilski also addressed the group.
First World Bicycle Day – India
India also celebrated its first bicycle day with huge participation in cities like Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Bangalore.
In Delhi, the inaugural function was flagged off by the Hon’ble Vice President of India in presence of several other dignitaries and officials. Over 10000 cyclists took to streets of Delhi, to celebrate World Bicycle Day.
A bike-sharing system with 300 cycles and 20 docking stations was launched by the NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Corporation) on the World Bicycle Day.
In the southern city of Bangalore first-ever bicycle mayor was chosen, a fortnight before world bicycle day, in line with Vadodara in Gujarat and Guwahati in Assam. Bicycle mayor is an honorary two-year position given to someone who could substantially contribute to the vision of bicycles constituting 50% of the city’s total transport by 2030. The bicycle mayor of Bangalore led a 10 km bicycle ride, followed by hundreds of other cycling enthusiasts.
Bangalore also got the announcement for 400 new bicycle parking hubs and 125 kilometers of track dedicated to bicycles.
Why Celebrate World Bicycle Day?
World Bicycle Day is celebrated to acknowledge the role of the bicycle as an economical, sustainable and environment-friendly mode of transport. It also seeks to promote the bicycle as a tool to get access to education and health care facilities, in places where other transport options are scarce.
Besides, there are numerous health benefits of switching to a bicycle as a mode of transport. All in all, the bicycle is a cheaper, reliable and healthier transport vehicle. Some of the prime advantages of bicycle, justifying the celebration of World Bicycle Day are explained below-
1) Cheaper Transportation
A bicycle is considerably cheaper than other alternative modes of transport. With not a penny to spend on fuel and maintenance, it could be a wonderful transport option for the marginalized section. It is the only transport option for a poor working-class such as daily wage laborers, farmers, etc.
2) Access to Education and Health Care
Bicycle isn’t only a cheaper mode of transport but also serves as a tool for development, by providing access to education and health care. It serves as a major transportation option to school, for children residing in remote locations in underdeveloped or developing nations like Africa and some countries in South Asia. Besides, a bicycle provides a reliable and cheaper option for healthcare facilities in remote villages where there is no road.
3) Healthier Mode of Transport
A bicycle is a much healthier mode of transport than a car. Bicycles have been proven to reduce stress, improve mood and reduces the risk of heart diseases and diabetes. This health advantage of the bicycle has helped it gain immense popularity even in many developed nations. Today, bicycles are popularly used in cities like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Delhi, etc.
4) Zero Carbon Footprints
The operation of a bicycle leaves zero carbon footprints, as there is no fuel combustion involved. A bicycle only runs on the manual force exerted by its rider and is, in fact, a healthier as well as environment-friendly mode of transport.
5) Minimal Road Wear
A bicycle is lighter and does much less damage to the roads than a 2 ton SUV or any other vehicle, for that matter. This means a lot less money spent on road maintenance and much on welfare schemes. Besides, roads, where bicycles are popularly used, have fewer potholes and damages, saving the authorities a lot of time and resources.
6) Hassle-Free Parking
The bicycle is very light and occupies almost negligible space in comparison to a car. It can be parked almost anywhere without any trouble. Today, in the face of population expansion, it is getting difficult to find a convenient parking space for your vehicle. Bicycle relieves you from the stress of parking as it could be practically parked anywhere and in a very little space.
7) No More Delays
These days traffic jams are a common occurrence in any metropolitan city. With a car on the road, you could be stuck for hours, getting late for work. Bicycle, however, is much less time taking the option, as many cities have dedicated tracks for the bicycle. If not, still it is much easy to maneuver a bicycle through the traffic.
How to Celebrate World Bicycle Day/Activities
There are various ways in which you could be a part of World Bicycle Day and promote its cause. You can take part in a bicycle riding event organized on World Bicycle Day. Such events are popularly organized in all the major cities across the world.
You can organize a small event yourself, in your community or village. Start by collecting all those whose life depends on bicycles, like – students, workers, healthcare providers, etc. Persuade them to take part in a bicycle rally in your city or village, also ask them to aware people of the health and other benefits of bicycle riding.
Last but not least; donate for the cause, if you can. There still are thousands of students who don’t have access to any kind of transport; healthcare workers who can’t reach out to the needy. A bicycle donated by you or at least any monetary contribution made in this regard can work wonders in their lives.