So, what does riding a bike mean to you?
According to John F. Kennedy, “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.”
For Hollywood star Matt Damon and his brother, Kyle, an avid cyclist, bike rides are a cool way to raise awarenss for charities.
And scientists will tell you that cycling brings more benefits than risks to your health, and can help create a greener planet.
Indeed, riding bikes is so fun, meaningful and healthy that millions of people around the world have joined in various movements for biking. Originated in Colombia, Ciclo-Via, a major international biking movement owns a lot of credits for making the world’s population healthier by encouraging them to ride with two wheels rather than four.
Ciclo-Via is a generic name given to parts of streets or other public areas used exclusively for the movement of bicycles. Ciclo-Via can be one or more lanes of a road marked appropriately for this purpose; it can also be an independent pathway which allows the transit of bicycles. To learn more about Ciclo-Via, download the fact sheet CICLO VIAS RECREATIVAS OF THE AMERICAS.
Ciclo-Via programs are a tool to address new public health problems such as increased prevalence of chronic diseases, therefore contributing to the fight against NCDs. In this context, Ciclo-Via has great potential for building a community of NCD fighters.
Ciclo-Via programs are easily adaptable, make efficient use of resources and provide an equal opportunity for physical activity to all people.
In addition to the benefits associated with physical activity, Ciclo-Via programs have demonstrated opportunities for community services in various aspects, such as:
- Contributing to the prevention of chronic diseases by promoting physical activity
- Providing a free space for recreation and use of leisure time
- Reclaiming the streets for the meeting public
- Providing employment opportunities
- Promoting the adoption of healthy lifestyles
- Promoting the use of alternative means of sustainable transport
- Reducing pollution and noise level
Therefore, Ciclo-Via has become a worldwide movement. Currently, countriesand regions that have organized Ciclo-Via activities include:
- United States, including New York City, where the UN High-Level Meeting on NCDs and Wellness Week will be held in September
We need to create a safe and friendly space where people can walk, run, skate, and ride bikes. Municipal governments and policymakers can learn from Ciclo-Via’s simple and effective approach to promote physical activity in their communities.
Besides governments, civil society plays an important role, too. Currently, there are organizations like 8-80 Cities (formerly Walk and Bike for Life) promoting cycling in urban parks, paths and other public spaces as a way to fulfill the objectives of encouraging physical activity and leave behind a sedentary lifestyle. This organization provides counseling, reporting and analysis to help communities create walking- and biking-friendly cities with great public spaces.
It is a fact that public interest in recreational cycle pathways is increasing exponentially, particularly in the Americas. Sunday street closures are popular not only in Latin America but also in the United States and Canada.
While projects of Sunday walks can be a success in the communities involved, it requires international alliances to generate greater commitment of leaders, and ultimately, increased resources for recreational cycle pathways. This is also to consolidate and reinforce the concept of Ciclo-Via through a coordinated and influential movement.
Have you taken part in Ciclo Via activities in your community? If so, please share with us by commenting below or post on our Facebook page.