Bicycling advocacy shifts into high gear before Rio+20
Contributed by Morana Song (@morana_twit), UN Department of Public Information
Some say the hardest part of learning how to ride a bike is the pavement. The second hardest may be convincing the world to reconsider this time-tested form of transportation as a new leap forward for environmental sustainability. Bikes are 100% environment-friendly, fully air-conditioned, and enjoyed at a low cost both in developing and developed countries.
On a hot, sunny day in June, a UN bike ride was held at the UN Headquarters in New York to promote cycling as a sustainable means of transport in the lead up to Rio+20 – the UN Conference on Sustainable Development.
It’s not only the masses that love to ride bikes – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and over 40 ambassadors and dignitaries participated in the cycling. Although the Secretary-General couldn’t actually ride because of a broken arm, he got into the spirit of things by wearing a helmet during his speech, sharing stories of riding a bicycle in his youth, during the poverty-stricken days of South Korea.
“I would much rather see bicycles and bike-riders around here than the limousines, armored SUVs and other gas-guzzling cars that we all use at the United Nations,” the Secretary-General said. Then he went on to suggest that ambassadors and Heads of State to use bikes during the General Assembly season. It might not be feasible, but it was a refreshing suggestion.
The Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, Janette Sadik-Khan – a key player in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to transform New York into a greener city – also took part, saying that NYC has donated 100 bikes to the UN (thank you, New York!). Sadik-Khan and her team have been working to reduce 30% of the city’s carbon footprint by the year 2030, providing protected bike lanes or segregated cycle facilities.
Perhaps New York City, the “City that Never Sleeps,” will soon become the “City that Rides Bikes!”