The COVID-19 pandemic has limited our movement and activities. Recreational sports around the world have been thrown into a deep freeze, shuttering everything from tennis clubs to weekend football leagues.
But one diversion that remains pandemic-approved: cycling. The World Health Organization has recommended it both as a mode of transport and as a way of staying healthy during the global crisis.
With World Bicycle Day set for 3 June 2020, now is a good time to take stock of the benefits of the bicycle both for staying healthy and as a sustainable mode of transport during (and after) the global crisis.
Many governments are looking for ways to ease lockdown measures while providing recreational opportunities to people living in cities. With the current need to maintain physical distances, bicycle use has gained popularity and filled the gap left by limitations on public transport.
Bikes are an affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally friendly means of transportation and are being recognized as a key component of post COVID-19 'green recovery'. The Municipality of Milan for example, will transform 35 kilometers of streets into cycling and walking space as restrictions are lifted.
Cycling contributes to healthy, livable cities as it not only prevents pollution, but also keeps people physically active.
This World Bicycle Day, the UN encourages governments to improve road safety and better integrate the needs of cyclists into the design of transport infrastructure. Measures to safeguard pedestrians and cyclists are a key part of building the urban spaces of tomorrow.
UNEP's Share the Road Programme helps governments and stakeholders in developing countries to move away from prioritizing the car-driving minority and towards investing in infrastructure for the majority: those who walk and cycle. Millions of people around the world use a bicycle as their primary means of transportation, either as choice riders or captive riders. For the latter, it is essential that their needs are better incorporated into policy and transport infrastructure investments.
World Bicycle Day is a celebration of this instrument of zero emissions mobility and connectivity. It is an opportunity to come together to maximize the potential of the bicycle.