Did you celebrate World Bicycle Day this year? In 2018, the United Nations designated the annual holiday to promote bicycle use across the planet. Thousands of people celebrated by going for a ride and more than 800 million people will ride a bike by the end of the year.
The cause for celebration doesn’t stop there. World Bicycle Day praises the bike as a simple, affordable, clean and sustainable means of transportation, as well as promoting their broader impact. Bicycles are changing lives in huge ways, prompting charities like World Bicycle Relief to promote their global campaigns.
Empowering 5,000 people in Africa with life-changing bicycles
World Bicycle Relief’s Racing the Sun is one such campaign harnessing the power of bicycles. Running until 30 June, the mission is to raise funds to provide 5,000 bikes to people in need in rural Africa. And it’s in places like these where a bicycle goes the longest way.
For millions of people in rural developing countries, it’s a race against the sun. On foot, seemingly simple tasks like going to school or visiting the health clinic are difficult and sometimes impossible. People have to wake up before dawn, head off to school, work or the store and hope to make it home before sunset. With a bike, distance is no longer a barrier to education, healthcare and economic opportunity.
The strategy is simple: for every $147 raised, WBR donates a Buffalo Bicycle to someone like Scholastica, who used to walk for hours to get to school. With a bicycle, student attendance increases by up to 28%; academic performance increases by 59%; community healthcare volunteers make 45% more patient visits; and dairy farmers make up to 25% more deliveries.
With numbers like those, the campaign and others like it have gained a lot of speed. To date, World Bicycle Relief has delivered more than 450,000 bicycles and trained over 2,200 field mechanics in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America, supporting local economies.
Joining the Race
In turn, a growing number of sponsors have entered the race against the sun, lead by CitizenM, Backroads, Schwalbe and Zwift. Zwift hosted charity rides every hour to promote the cause, pledging to match the first $25K in donations raised. Meanwhile, Netherlands-based hotel chain CitizenM raised enough money to distribute 124 bicycles at Magoba Primary School in Zambia, giving the power of mobility to students, teachers, community members and one lucky field mechanic.
Of course, you don’t have to be a charity or sponsor to help. Our director of marketing, Emily Conrad-Pickles, has spent the last few years raising money for Buffalo Bicycles, embarking on an unsupported ride from London to Cape Town. With nearly £30,000 raised so far, she’s provided 295 bikes, changing the lives of 295 families.
Nearly 2,500 bicycles have been distributed so far, and there’s still time to hit the goal. If you would like to support World Bicycle Relief, it’s easy to get involved. Spread the word on social media with #racingthesun, or you can sign up to fundraise. You can donate here.
Why else celebrate the bicycle?
Along with amazing campaigns like Racing the Sun, there are many more reasons to love the bicycle. After all, World Bicycle Day may have come and gone, but we believe cycling is one of the best things you can do every day. In case you needed extra excuses to get outside and ride, remember this:
They’re a healthy way to get around
Bikes have been shown to reduce stress, improve mood and boost health. According to the World Health Organization, cycling can provide a form of transport while lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes and even death. This health benefit has helped the popularity of bicycles grow at a steady pace, even in developed cities such as Amsterdam, Copenhagen and London.
You could save money
Cycling burns calories rather than currency, to the tune of several thousand pounds per year. It’s second only to walking as the cheapest way to get to work. When you factor in the cost of trains, tubes, buses, cabs, car maintenance and petrol, it adds up to some pretty hefty savings.
No dirty footprints
Because there’s no combustion involved, riding a bike reduces greenhouse gases. Government bodies and organisations such as Cycling UK are encouraging cycling as a zero-carbon option and by reducing the need to travel. Last year, the UK government announced £2 million to support the uptake of e-cargo bikes, propelling UK companies towards a greener future.
Uber has followed suit, nearly one year after almost getting driven out of the capital by losing its taxi operating license. Last week the company announced the launch of Jump e-bikes in London, kicking off with 300 in the Islington borough, with plans to expand to more of the city’s areas in the coming months.
The list goes on, but everything points to what we knew all along: bicycles are an easy way to save the world. Whether you want to donate, cycle for a cause or simply enjoy the ride, get on your bike and start doing some good, one pedal stroke at a time.
We love the Power of Bicycles at Yellow Jersey, which is why we pledge to keep you on two wheels if something were to go wrong with your bicycle. Check out our bicycle insurance and travel insurance packages that will cover you and your bicycle for cycling in the UK, Europe and around the world.