3rd June is recognized as World Bicycle Day by the General Assembly by the United Nations. Bicycles have nostalgia and societal status symbols attached to them but are still one of the most sustainable modes of transportation in the world. Let’s see how this sustainable mode helps us combat various problems we face as humanity.
Do you remember the very first bicycle you owned? Weren’t you very excited about the features it had? Didn’t you wait for the clock to strike 5 in the evening so that you and your friends could go for a bicycle ride together? Nostalgia hitting hard right? But have you ever wondered if the adult version of you (who is probably interested in owning a Laemborgini) would still be using that bicycle that the 5-year-old you owned, how the world around you would change?
A German Baron Karl von Drais made the first major development when he created a steerable, two-wheeled contraption in 1817 which we now know as the “Bicycle”. In April 2018, The United Nations General Assembly declared 3rd June as World Bicycle Day. The day acknowledged the uniqueness and longevity of this sustainable mode of transportation. The United Nations specifically quotes that this day encourages stakeholders to emphasize and advance the use of the bicycle as a means of fostering sustainable development, strengthening education, including physical education, for children and young people, promoting health, preventing disease, promoting tolerance, mutual understanding and respect and facilitating social inclusion and a culture of peace.
As a country that believes in flaunting luxurious cars and other modes of transportation, we often overlook the predominant poorer section which still uses a bicycle as their mode of transportation. In a world where “fancy words” like sustainability and stopping climate change make headlines every day, isn’t this population one of the biggest helping contributors to the needed change? We often designate societal status with the materialistic things a person owns. Wouldn’t be blaming anyone for that but just wanted to put forth a question, why do we neglect the small actions, small people make, to make a small change? Your Society wale Guard Bhaiya is an equal contributor to combat climate change as you are, as when you put up an Instagram Story educating people about the havoc this change might create, Guard Bhaiya is actually subconsciously working towards reducing the carbon footprint on the planet.
When you see Delhi on the map of the world, you might be observing it as the smallest dot on the page but still, it manages to create problems for the ozone (kindly take this as a serious joke).
In 2016 the Delhi Government passed an experimental law for a month to see the change in the pollution levels in the city. The Odd-Even rule (from which women drivers were exempted) showed better air quality in the capital for its citizens to breathe. The rule was imposed for a month and then was reintroduced in 2017 and 2019 for specified time periods. But aren’t these just short-time gambles that we play? Don’t we need a more concrete yet easy method to stand on the levels of sustainability we all preach?
When we talk about the world and about bicycles, Japan emerges as one of the greatest cycling nations. Although Japanese cities are among the world’s largest and most populous, most residential neighborhoods maintain their own distinct small-town atmosphere. Japanese neighborhoods are mainly self-contained in terms of services. Residents must cycle for little more than 5 to 10 minutes to reach supermarkets, kindergartens, schools, doctors, and dentists; in fact, most daily essentials are only a short distance away. The majority of Japanese ride a Mama-Chari, with a basket in front of it. Mama-Chari is considered the family wagon of Japan. However, the World Health organization considers Japan’s air quality as moderately unsafe, but it still can’t beat Delhi for being the gas chamber.
The nationwide lockdown imposed at the beginning of the pandemic dropped the pollution level in the capital by 32.5%. Well, the irony is, what we consciouslyly tried to do for several years happened in a go just because of a pandemic. This poses a very serious question in front of the younger generation (because apparently, we will be having the first-hand opportunity to see the catastrophes no generation ever saw, P.S nothing to be proud of) do we need a GLOBAL PANDEMIC to have the clear air that our lungs deserve?
I won’t be suggesting the cliche take a bicycle ride for short distances and stuff because come on, we learned that in kindergarten, but like an unconventional writer I will quote a Family Group Whatsapp forward instead, “When you are a kid you have a bicycle, you ride it and you are fit; when you become an adult, you start earning you buy a car and apparently become unfit (cars reduce the physical activities), and then in order to be fit again, you join a gym and start riding that bicycle all over again! That’s what you call a Life Cycle!” Can we please make bicycles part of our daily routine again?
Feature Image Credits : Sabari Girish