Despite these benefits, the benefit of the bike to society is not recognised in many countries, or internationally. As a first step, the bicycle deserves an official annual World Bicycle Day sanctioned by the United Nations.
The humble bicycle has played second fiddle to the car for far too long: research published last year showed that not only could cycling cut a tenth of transport emissions of carbon dioxide, but more people cycling would cumulatively save cities across the world $25 trillion from 2015 to 2050 by reducing the need for expensive roads and public transport.
Beginning in the 1970s, the city of Bogotá, Colombia, began closing roads to allow people to ride their bikes free from the noise and danger of traffic. Since then, hundreds of cities around the world have followed suit including New York and – most recently – Paris. Almost 2000 cities take part in European Mobility Week each September, with one ‘car free day’ when citizens are urged to use other means to get to work. The huge global community of cycling enthusiasts runs thousands of other events to celebrate cycling, such as Bike to Work Days, Ice Ride, Teheran – City of Bikes, Climate Rides, Bike for Mom in Bangkok, Bicycle Festival in Seoul, International Cargo Bike Festival in the Netherlands or even the World Naked Bike Ride in Portland amongst many others.
Those events would be even more effective in showing cycling’s role as a solution to global problems if it was unified with a common aim. Setting a UN-endorsed World Bicycle Day would help to coalesce some of these diverse civil and citizen initiatives into something global.
We can have all these ceremonial days. What is more important is actually going back to basics and encouraging more cycling…