8 June 2012 United Nations officials, diplomats and members of civil society organizations today took part in a bike ride in New York City to highlight the benefits of bicycling as a sustainable urban transportation method.
“I would much rather see bicycles and bike-riders around here than the limousines, armoured SUVs and other gas-guzzling cars that we all use at the United Nations!” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the ride’s participants, who rode from the Organization’s Headquarters to the offices of the Netherlands Mission to the UN, which organized the event.
The Netherlands is one the world’s most avid bicycling advocates, with a population of 17 million people and 18 million bicycles.
In recent years, bike share schemes have increased in popularity and have successfully been implemented in major cities around the world including Paris, London, Beijing, Mexico City, Montreal and Tel Aviv, among others. New York is scheduled to launch its own bike share programme next month.
The Secretary-General said he hoped biking culture continues to grow in cities as it is not only a low-carbon transport method, but also beneficial for people’s health.
“Last year, in a speech on health, I mentioned that bikes are great for our bodies and for our planet. The next day, a blog called me ‘the world’s newest biking advocate’ I like that title,” Mr. Ban said.
“Bicycles are important, but they are just part of a bigger picture: our global efforts to achieve truly sustainable development. Our challenge is to get the world to use renewable energy to power our trains, planes, buses and boats. This is especially important for cities,” he added.
Mr. Ban also said that the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, later this month, will provide an opportunity for countries to agree on cleaner and greener approaches to development, including sustainable transport.
News Tracker: past stories on this issue