The COVID-19 crisis has cut off commutes, and group activities involving travel of all kinds, throwing recreational sports around the world into a deep freeze. But cycling has not only proved to be largely pandemic-proof, but it also seems to be growing in popularity in many cities, across the world.
Many of the roads in Kampala do not have a provision for non motorised transport
Governments have been encouraged
to improve road safety and better integrate the needs of cyclists into the
design of transport infrastructure.
Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the President
of the UN General Assembly says that investing in city infrastructure to
support cycling, from protected lanes to bike-share programmes, will contribute
to a safer, resilient and sustainable future.
He made the statement in celebration
of the World Bicycle Day which is marked annually on June 3, to acknowledge the
uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle. The day this year was
used to highlight the manner the bicycle has transformed the way the world
moves around, before and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
crisis has cut off commutes, and group activities involving travel of all
kinds, throwing recreational sports around the world into a deep freeze. But
cycling has not only proved to be largely pandemic-proof, but it also seems to be
growing in popularity in many cities, across the world.
Bicycles have also surged in
popularity as governments continue to look for ways to ease lockdown measures,
provide recreational opportunities to those living in cities and fill a gap
left by limited public transport – all while maintaining physical distance, to
keep the virus at bay. Until today,
several Ugandans used the bicycle to travel as the government maintained a ban
on public transport.
“In times of COVID-19, cities are
being challenged to rethink their infrastructure, with bicycles playing a vital
role in offering a quiet, economical, and non-polluting alternative to cars and
public transportation systems”, maintained the official.
As a reliable, clean,
environmentally friendly means of transportation, bikes are also being
recognized as a key component of the post COVID-19 “green recovery”. The World
Health Organisation recommends cycling both as a mode of transport and as a way
of staying healthy throughout and after the global crisis. It observes that cycling
not only contributes to healthy, likeable cities by limiting pollution, it also
keeps people physically active.
With millions of people around
the world using bicycles as their primary means of transportation, it is
essential that their needs are better incorporated into policy and transport
“In many countries, owning a
bicycle has an even more significant impact for families, lifting them out of
poverty, while providing them with improved access to quality education, jobs,
markets, and community activities when public transportation is unavailable”,
explained the Assembly president.
In response to the coronavirus
pandemic, cities have come up with plans to free up street space, normally
dominated by cars, for the exclusive use of cyclists and pedestrians, for at
least certain periods each week. The United Nations Environment Programme is supporting
the “Share the Road Programme”, aimed at moving away from prioritizing a
car-driving minority, towards investing in infrastructure for the majority:
those who walk and cycle.