World Bicycle Day, held every year on 3 June, is a chance for nations across the globe to recognise the ‘simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation‘ that is the bicycle. Over the past year, All We Can has been celebrating the enormous potential of the humble bike to help families break the cycle of poverty. In the blog below, Joy, Programs Coordinator from All We Can’s local partner FABIO, reflects on why World Bicycle Day is so important.
‘In April 2018, the UN General Assembly declared 3 June World Bicycle Day. FABIO (First African Bicycle Information Organization), one of All We Can’s local partners, is well known for promoting cycling in Uganda – and joins the rest of world to celebrate World Bicycle Day by acknowledging the relevance of a bicycle during the Coronavirus pandemic, and beyond.
The outbreak of the pandemic in Uganda provided an opportunity for Ugandans to embrace cycling the hard way. In the long run, this has enabled them appreciate cycling not as a rudimentary tool of transport – but as a means of convenience, especially in times of emergency. For example, when Covid-19 was at its peak, Uganda went through a lockdown which called for a ban on most public and private transport – and the only safe, recommended means of transport was a bicycle. As a direct result of this, there has been a change in people’s mindset towards bicycles.
At the same time, cycling is good for our health. Just 30 minutes a day is enough to strengthen the cardiovascular system and a person’s endurance. Riding a bike can increase one’s well-being and the ability to concentrate. What’s more, cycling is one of the few transport means that gives an opportunity for the traveler to get a clear view of the geography and beautiful scenery during their travels. Not only that, cycling is very cost effective, as it doesn’t cost much to maintain a bicycle!
Thanks to FABIO’s vital work, Eria (pictured) has been able to use a bicycle to access education.
Furthermore, in terms of the environment, cycling is a good idea. Unlike a car, it doesn’t release fumes which can be harmful to health. Similarly, bicycles do not emit CO2, which promotes climate change. The reduction in car traffic also creates a quieter environment for everyone.
Unfortunately, safe infrastructure for bicycles is still lacking almost everywhere in Uganda. Safe cycling is a relief for people and the environment, and it is therefore absolutely worth promoting. However, in order to encourage people to ride their bikes, some measures need to be taken – such as an expansion of a cycling infrastructure that is fast, safe, direct and comfortable. Secure and accessible parking facilities need to be built. Service offerings such as repairs, air pump stations, etc. also need to be established. In addition, campaigns must be carried out to convey a positive image of cycling and raise people’s awareness. Integrating cycling into everyday life is worthwhile on many levels. It saves money, protects the environment and promotes health – that’s why it’s something that we advocate for so strongly at FABIO.
FABIO believes that lives can be changed through the use of bicycles. People and communities can be strengthened and empowered, everyday life can be made easier and income can be increased. In rural, poorer region, there is a lack of opportunity to use bicycles – and so FABIO helps the most vulnerable to access them.
We would like to give special thanks to the supporters of All We Can who have helped us provide bicycles and safety kits for communities during Uganda’s lockdown. With this support, FABIO was able to reach out to over 1500 vulnerable households. At least 50 pregnant women were able to access antenatal care; people living with HIV were able to access essential medication; children accessed immunisation services, and people were able to visit markets to buy food and other necessities. Thank you for standing with FABIO and the communities we work with.’
Want to learn more about how change can begin with a bicycle? Take a look at the transformative impact of FABIO’s work in this video.