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  • Writer's pictureAnne O

Bicycles In a Modern World

There are probably more (perhaps less) than nine billion bicycles in Beijing since Katie Melua sang that pleasant song fourteen years ago. There’s little to suggest that any other city had to deal with such numbers particularly as there are up to seven million registered bicycle riders in the city. As technological advances spread to all sectors of life, the world of transportation enjoys a robust improvement as well. Sadly, this advances also come with unfavourable consequences for our world with increasing traffic situations and air pollution.

In 2018, the United Nations decided that the 3rdof June 2019, be designated as world bicycle day. This gesture aims to bring the use of bicycles to the fore seeing that they are fast becoming redundant in many parts of the world. Bicycles are not only environmentally friendly; they also serve as an important tool for gaining access to health centers and education in many rural areas with poor road infrastructure and where automobiles are unaffordable. In these places, bicycles are used to reach schools, health centers, water sources and even farms far away from housing settlements. Many will attest to how it has been a life saver in acquiring an education, transporting the sick to far away clinics as well as moving food stuff and tools across farms, homes and markets. This brings to mind the movie “The boy who harnessed the wind” by Chiwetel Ejiofor based on the true story of a young Malawian genius called William Kamkwamba. Here again one priceless bicycle and the ingenuity of a young lad served to prevent a community from starvation during a turbulent time.

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In many urban areas, the use of two wheelers is not always a viable option as many roads are not built with cyclists in mind. Thus, commuting on a bike may be tantamount to putting one in harm’s way. On the other hand, in societies (such as Denmark, Netherland and some parts of Japan) where the use of bicycles is factored into the road system, riding bicycles become a delightful and viable option for commuters to adopt.

My romance with bicycles started when I took healthy lifestyle activities more seriously. Among other things, I sought an exercise routine I could enjoy and started with jogging. It was an undesirable choice for me as I quickly realized that I wasn’t very good at it neither did I find it enjoyable. Then I thought on cycling, except that I didn’t know how to ride one and was scared stiff of falling. Thankfully, my enthusiasm got the better of me and I determined to learn how. By my fourth lesson, I had mastered the act of balancing and overcome my fear of falling. I haven't looked back since then and the feeling is exhilarating. My good old bicycle helps me get a good dose of cardio while enjoying the beauty of nature…Priceless!

We must not undermine the importance of making the use of bicycles a viable means of transportation in our society. The rate of global warming and all the unfavourable consequences it brings points that any solution that reduces pollution and gas emission is a winner and the use of bicycles adds to that. Another point for bicycles is the health advantage it gifts its users. One sure way of getting a good dose of cardio workout is at least 30 minutes of cycling a day. With that you also get an instant mental boost!

What’s not to love about bicycles? How about you adopt cycling as a lifestyle routine plus, you will be doing the world a favour.

Happy World Bicycle Day!

Dr Anne Olowu writes from Lagos Nigeria

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