Bikers wearing masks
Photo:UN/A. Istria
Bicyclists wearing masks during the COVID-19 outbreak in New York. Photo: A. Istria

Why celebrate the bicycle?

Regular physical activity of moderate intensity – such as walking, cycling, or doing sports – has significant benefits for health. At all ages, the benefits of being physically active outweigh potential harm, for example through accidents. Some physical activity is better than none. By becoming more active throughout the day in relatively simple ways, people can quite easily achieve the recommended activity levels.

The mobility needs of people who walk and cycle – often the majority of citizens in a city – continue to be overlooked, states Share the Road Programme Annual Report 2018, even though the benefits of investing in pedestrians and cyclists can save lives, help protect the environment and support poverty reduction. Meeting the needs of people who walk and cycle continues to be a critical part of the mobility solution for helping cities de-couple population growth from increased emissions, and to improve air quality and road safety.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), safe infrastructure for walking and cycling is also a pathway for achieving greater health equity. For the poorest urban sector, who often cannot afford private vehicles, walking and cycling can provide a form of transport while reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, and even death. Accordingly, improved active transport is not only healthy; it is also equitable and cost-effective.

  • The bicycle is a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation;
  • The bicycle can serve as a tool for development and as a means not just of transportation but also of access to education, health care and sport;
  • The synergy between the bicycle and the user fosters creativity and social engagement and gives the user an immediate awareness of the local environment;
  • The bicycle is a symbol of sustainable transportation and conveys a positive message to foster sustainable consumption and production, and has a positive impact on climate.

Background

Acknowledging 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 transportation, fostering environmental stewardship and health, the General Assembly decided to declare 3 June World Bicycle Day.

It encouraged stakeholders to emphasize and advance the use of the bicycle as a means of fostering sustainable development, strengthening education, including physical education, for children and young people, promoting health, preventing disease, promoting tolerance, mutual understanding and respect and facilitating social inclusion and a culture of peace.

The Assembly welcomed initiatives to organize bicycle rides at the national and local levels as a means of strengthening physical and mental health and well-being and developing a culture of cycling in society.

World Bicycle Day:

  • Encourages Member States to devote particular attention to the bicycle in cross-cutting development strategies and to include the bicycle in international, regional, national and subnational development policies and programmes;
  • Encourages Member States to improve road safety and integrate it into sustainable mobility and transport infrastructure planning and design, in particular through policies and measures to actively protect and promote pedestrian safety and cycling mobility, with a view to broader health outcomes, particularly the prevention of injuries and non-communicable diseases;
  • Encourages stakeholders to emphasize and advance the use of the bicycle as a means of fostering sustainable development, strengthening education, including physical education, for children and young people, promoting health, preventing disease, promoting tolerance, mutual understanding and respect and facilitating social inclusion and a culture of peace;
  • Encourages Member States to adopt best practices and means to promote the bicycle among all members of society, and in this regard welcomes initiatives to organize bicycle rides at the national and local levels as a means of strengthening physical and mental health and well-being and developing a culture of cycling in society.

Message for 2020

 

Bicycle sculpture by the sea by Ai Wei Wei

Bike repairs: Make it in The Gambia

Documents

Related Observances

Useful links

Illustration of a biker

According to the WHO Global action plan on physical activity 2018–2030, physical activity has multiplicative health, social and economic benefits, and investment in policy actions to increase physical activity can contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are multiple direct and indirect pathways, by which policies to promote physical activity through walking, cycling, sport, active recreation and play, support 13 of the SDGs.

 

Woman on bike wearing mask

Can bicycles be a solution to the challenges of the post-COVID-19 recovery? European member countries of the United Nations recently created a taskforce to take this question further and discuss ways to make ‎post-COVID-19 mobility more environmentally sound, healthy ‎and sustainable.

 

Geometric illustration with the Secretariat building at UNHQ, New York.

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.