As we celebrate the world bicycle day we would like to take this opportunity to remind the world at large the advantages of using bicycles.

Riding bicycles has many individual and city-wide benefits. For the individual, riding a bicycle provides exercise, reducing the risk of disease, while improving our health and strength. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 150 minutes of physical activity per week, which can be achieved by bicycle transportation. Cycling also reduces air pollution, which irritates human lungs, worsens asthma and emphysema and increases the risk of heart attacks and premature deaths. As we can see from the improvement in air quality during the COVID-19 lockdown, vehicles are one of the major emitters of air pollution in Uganda, generating fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which harm human health. The World Health Organization estimates 1.3 million deaths every year from the effects of urban air pollution. Bicycle transportation is also cheaper than using public transportation or buying fuel for cars, helping families save money.

For cities, cycling as a mode of transportation has many positive impacts. First, bicycle transportation reduces air pollution, which benefits everyone. Cycling also encourages residents to spend time outdoors, enjoying parks, retail services and other urban amenities. Lastly, cycling can help get residents to/from public transportation stations easily (‘last mile connections’), and provision of parking for bicycles is cheaper and requires less space than providing parking for automobiles in the city.

We would like to thank H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for promoting bicycles as a means of urban transportation in Uganda, during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

For bicycle transportation to grow, our cities need more safe, attractive, and accessible bicycle infrastructure. This includes segregated bicycle and pedestrian lanes within the public right-of-way, adequatebicycle parking throughout the city, bicycle hubs near transit stages and centers of employment and schools, and inclusion of bicycle boxes at major road junctions. We must also sensitize the public about the benefits of cycling, teaching children and adults how to cycle safely, and provide access to affordable bicycles. Lastly, we will need to rely on the Police to help make the roads safe for everyone, including cyclists.

(Written by katesi Najjiba FABIO and Anna Oursler WRI)


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