Uniqueness, Versatility, Longevity of the Bicycle
and Simple, Sustainable, Affordable, Reliable
means of Transportation
A bicycle is an industrial revolution in an individual’s lifeF.K. Day
Founder and President
World Bicycle Relief
World Bicycle Day is observed on 3 June 2021. It is UN observation started in 2018. The efforts of Leszek Sobieski’s campaign and the support of Turkmenistan and 56 other countries led to the UN declaring 3 June as World Bicycle Day. “We are not blocking traffic. We are traffic.” A cycle advocacy slogan says. Every one of us recalls the thrill of riding the bicycle for the first time. Parents removing the additional support wheels on your bicycle and the joy, pride and sense of achievement is something you cherish forever. Bicycle belongs to and serves all of humanity. When you go riding your bicycle, you get the opportunity to be aware of the environment. A bicycle is a simple, affordable, reliable means of transportation. It is fuel-saving, environment-friendly and a symbol of sustainable transportation. There are several health benefits of cycling. Lowering the risk of developing cardiovascular complications reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Vehicles for human transport with two wheels and require balancing date back to the early 19th century. The first means of transport making use of two wheels arranged consecutively dates to 1817. Wikipedia attributes to Baron Karl von Drais, who came up with the idea of sitting on a platform with two wheels and self-propelling. The machine(!) was called a “hobby horse”. The only thing that it has in common with today’s bikes are its two wheels, steering capabilities, and seat. With the improvement of manufacturing technology, bicycles transformed significantly. The term bicycle was coined in France in the 1860s. Closer to what resembles today’s bicycles first appeared in 1886. John Kemp Staley’s “Rover Safety” bicycle was the first to incorporate two wheels of the same size, pedals, a drive chain to the back wheel, and pneumatic tires.
The top ten bicycling countries are Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Japan, Switzerland, Belgium, and China. The Netherlands can be named the cycling nation. The Dutch have a unique culture for bicycling, with ~99% of them using bicycles for transportation. Statistics indicate that 27% of all their trips and 25% of them to work are made cycling. The Dutch royals have a long cycling tradition. Do you know how many bicycles are there in the world? China has 450,000,000. USA about 100,000,000 and India, 30,80,000.
Despite being cost-effective and means to replace a sedentary lifestyle, cycling has become one of the most dangerous vehicles, putting its riders at significant risk. In developing countries, cycling remains a poor person’s mode of transport. With no dedicated lanes for cyclers, treading their path on busy and crowded roads becomes a challenge. Cyclists are amongst the most vulnerable among the road users next to pedestrians. The number of accidents and loss of life is alarming. On India’s roads, 16 fatalities occur every hour and account for more than 46% of the total fatalities. Cyclists and motorcyclists comprise almost half of all the deaths on roads across the world. Bicycle faces another problem its vulnerability of being stolen. About one of five (20%) bicycles being stolen each year in Europe.
Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.Albert Einstein
Let us get back to bicycling, relive the excitement of childhood, become healthier, adopt sustainable transportation mode, and reduce the burden of pollution to mother earth. Safe infrastructure for walking and cycling is a pathway for achieving greater health equity, says WHO.
Toons: Anusha and Reema Jaiswal
Logs: Sai Baba