Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for World Bicycle Day, observed today:
Bikes are freedom; bikes are fun. They are good for one’s health — physical and mental — and good for our one and only planet. Bikes are popular and practical, providing exercise and transporting us not only to school, stores and work but to a more sustainable future.
World Bicycle Day celebrates this great power and highlights the importance of non-motorized transport in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and combating climate change.
Today there are an estimated 1 billion bicycles in the world — about as many as passenger cars. Their use spans the generations, from toddlers to older persons; once you learn, you never forget.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, cycling was a critical mode of transport, and bike-sharing programmes were increasingly common, providing free or affordable access to bicycles for short trips.
The crisis has changed transport needs and behaviour, and prompted many cities to rethink their transport systems, with bicycles playing a vital role in offering an economical and non-polluting alternative.
This further embrace of cycling must be accompanied by heightened efforts to improve road safety and integrate the bicycle into sustainable transport planning and design. Investments in city infrastructure, including protected lanes and other measures to promote safety and counter the long-standing hegemony of the automobile. As we look ahead to the United Nations Global Sustainable Transport Conference in October in Beijing, let us pledge to support cycling and make better biking a reality.
To all the world’s cyclists on World Bicycle Day, whether out for sport, exercise or an errand, keep those wheels turning!