Since its establishment in 2018, World Bicycle Day has been marked annually on 3 June by advocates in many countries and adopted through a UN General Assembly resolution spearheaded by the Government of Turkmenistan.
As the globe marked World Bicycling Day, the Matron of the Cycling Federation of Nigeria and First Lady of Abia State, Dr Mrs Nkechi Ikpeazu, has called on Nigerians to adopt cycling as a safe means of transport that has health benefits for the rider and does not cause pollution.
Bicycles were introduced in the 19th century in Europe. By the early 21st century, more than 1 billion were in existence. These numbers far exceed the number of cars, both in total and ranked by the number of individual models produced. They are the principal means of transportation in many regions. They also provide a popular form of recreation and have been adapted for use as children’s toys, general fitness, military and police applications, courier services, bicycle racing, and bicycle stunts.
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More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed transport needs and behaviour, prompting many cities to rethink their transportation systems. As part of efforts to “build back better”, cycling is pitched as a healthy, green and economical transport alternative. A new UN General Assembly resolution adopted in 2022 on “Integration of mainstream bicycling into public transportation systems for sustainable development” reinforces these principles. Through this resolution, governments commit to promoting the bicycle among all members of society, including people of all ages, urban and rural, and develop a culture of bicycling in society.
Speaking at a cycling rally organised by the Federal Road Safety Corps in Umuahia to mark World Bicycle Day, Mrs Ikpeazu revealed that she had been riding bicycles since she was six years old and could attest to its numerous gains for the body including stamina and cardiovascular benefits.
Mrs Ikpeazu, while demonstrating the importance and health benefits of cycling by riding a bicycle, urged the government at all levels and civil society organisations to sensitise the public on the benefits of cycling adding that it would reduce many kinds of sicknesses. She commended the Federal Road Safety Corps for promoting bicycle riding as a means of mass transit as it would also reduce road traffic accidents if well organised.
Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, has said that riding a bicycle as a means of movement has immense health benefits, and urged Nigerians to embrace the practice, which it said would also help decongest the roads.
The Abia State Sector Commander FRSC, Mr Paul Ugwu called for the government at all levels to fully integrate bicycle lanes in all road construction.
In his remarks, the Eastern Zonal Coordinator Cycling Association of Nigeria, Dr Ezebunwa Ubani, said that a world cycling day is an important event that should be taken seriously to promote physical fitness and reduce emissions in the society.
Other activities to mark the day include a ride around the city of Umuahia and a media lecture at the premises of Flo 94.9 FM.
The bicycle has undergone continual adaptation and improvement since its inception. These innovations have continued with the advent of modern materials and computer-aided design, allowing for a proliferation of specialized bicycle types, improved bicycle safety, and riding comfort.
The bicycle is an inexpensive, fast, healthy and environmentally friendly mode of transport. Ivan Illich stated that bicycle use extended the usable physical environment for people, while alternatives such as cars and motorways degraded and confined people’s environment and mobility.
World Bicycle Day recognises “the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle… a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transport, fostering environmental stewardship and health.” Proponents encourage the use of the bicycle as a means of eradicating poverty; furthering sustainable development; strengthening education, including physical education, for children and young people; promoting health; preventing disease; and facilitating social inclusion and a culture of peace.
The theme for the year 2022 for World Bicycle Day is to celebrate the bicycle’s originality, diversity and endurance being utilised for more than 200 years.