Leszek J. Sibilski

Published On: June 4, 2019 10:45 AM NPT By: Leszek J. Sibilski

World Bicycle Day

World Bicycle Day

June 3rd marked the second celebration of The World Bicycle Day since its inception by The United Nations General Assembly on April 12, 2018, by 193 state-members as the UN Resolution.

There is hope that more countries will follow suit and unite with the campaign to promote cycling for all in the near and distant future. When we think of the bicycle, we think of a durable, loyal, and simple human invention.

 But please don’t be misled by its simplicity, the history of this popular invention is one of inspiration and controversy, of contradictory stories about its invention, and, most importantly, of vital contributions to the advancement of individuals, communities, and nations.

The first practically used bicycle, or velocipede, was a two-wheeled, human-powered German vehicle invented by Karl von Drais in 1817. Coined the laufmaschine or draisienne, the bicycle has since had many colorful names, including célérifère, penny-farthing, boneshaker, and dandy horse.

It also continues to go by many names today, including bisiklet (Turkish), bicicleta (Catalan and Spanish), zìxíngchē (Chinese), jajeongeo (Korean), dirajat hawayiya (Arabic) and ofanaim (Hebrew), and to evolve in its designs, including: road bikes, cargo bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids, recumbent, and cruisers.

Whatever we call it, and however we build it, 202 years later, we celebrate and pay tribute to Drais’ marvelous invention.  The World Bicycle Day is celebrated today, not only to recall the distinguished past of the bicycle, but to talk about its future, and in particular the plans for keeping the bicycle busy in developing and developed nations alike.

Above all, recognizing the vital role the bicycle can play in bringing about economically and environmentally sustainable, as well as local and global development, and truly smart cities is a necessity.

It took three years, many sacrifices and a small army of people to make the dream of a World Bicycle Day a reality, many more people than I can acknowledge today. Those who dedicated their efforts to this cause have brought their inspiration and energy, and I am immensely grateful to them all.


But during the journey to establish World Bicycle Day, women played a pivotal role in making this dream a reality. I strongly believe there is something significant about this. After all, in the 1890s during the early struggles for women’s suffrage in the United States, Susan B. Anthony named the bicycle a "freedom machine", and it is frequently considered the main conduit for the emancipation of women.

Perhaps the women who contributed to the outcome we celebrate today intuitively wanted to pay back this most loyal human instrument for giving women the vital sense of freedom and self-reliance they needed to address their plight during those times. Perhaps they also recognized the role bicycles can play alleviating the struggles women and others face today.

Our very ambitious first goal remains the same: “to achieve 100% global cycling literacy”.  As of now, we are slightly above 50%, so there is a long way to go. We firmly believe that the bicycle can and should be a central tool of physical education, as well as of civic and economic education in schools the world over. Contemporary global society must come to appreciate that the bicycle is not just a means of active mobility, or of competition by elite athletes, or of recreation, but also an affordable and readily available tool for living a healthy and productive life. This goal also seeks to create a truly clean and green bicycle revolution for coming generations, for Olympic hopefuls, and for future entrepreneurs and community leaders alike.

Our second goal is to mainstream the practical and functional use of the bicycle at every societal level throughout the world including urban and rural settings; affluent and developing countries; for children and youth; for young adults and the elderly; for males and females.

How important it is that help make global citizens proud that they possess the bicycle. If you think that 100% global cycling literacy and societal mainstreaming is unfeasible think of the Netherlands. In that nation, the number of bicycles supersedes the citizen population!

We all know that the clock is ticking, and there is no planet B. We face not a climate change, but literally a climate crisis. We're conducting the most hazardous stress test in history right now, which is to see how much carbon dioxide the atmosphere can absorb before there is an environmental catastrophe. Undoubtedly, the bicycle can be one of the remedies to prevent this disaster.

World, Bicycle, Day,

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