Valeria Leyva & Daniela Abril Gutierrez, write on what it means for the Bicycle Mayor Network to be recognised by the UN, and how the Network’s impact is grown.
In June this year the Bicycle Mayor Network was honoured with a United Nations World Bicycle Day award. Presented to BYCS’ CEO Maud de Vries by UN Ambassador Ricky Kej and Director of Sustainable Mobility NL, Petrouschka Werther, it recognises the impact that Bicycle Mayors are having globally.
To mark the day and further draw attention to the benefits of cycling, we coordinated a global day of action, with autonomous events happening in many countries across the world, and a shared online message of #ChooseTheBicycle, bringing the network together and sparking discussions about how we move in cities. You can see just a few of these shared through our instagram stories of the day.
The commitment Bicycle Mayors show to their cause is enormous, and has paved the way for this UN recognition. To recognise some of this lasting work we have gathered three stories that show the power of the Bicycle Mayor Network in transforming cities and the world.
India shouts #WeToo for road safety, for Earth Day and for Sunil Jain.
The late Sunil Jain, cyclist, activist, and Bicycle Mayor of Surat, initiated a yearly collective movement in memory of Vinit Malpani who unfortunately died as one of many victims of road violence. Through the network of Bicycle Mayors in India, this year the movement reached more than 9 cities throughout the country, including Delhi, Thane, Surat, Agartala, Gandhinagar, and Sonipat. In each city advocates stood with placards, delivered chocolates with small notes to motorists, held cycling rallies, and gave cycling lessons.
However, the #WeToo movement has transformed into much more than a pan-Indian road safety protest or awareness campaign. The call that #WeToo [cyclists-and-pedestrians] matter on the streets, has also broadened the local conversation on how cycling should be at the forefront of the fight against climate change. One of the many messages delivered during the movement was to encourage more people to walk or cycle more often, especially for short distances. As the UN has recognised cycling as a fundamental strategy to reach climate neutrality, Sunil’s movement, celebrated on World’s Earth Day, matches perfectly with the collective need of a more healthy future, clean air, and more inclusive and sensitive cities.
In a country where 11% of the global road traffic deaths occur, taking up to 150,000 lives per year, Sunil’s message shouted respect and awareness for every cyclist and vulnerable road user in India, asking motorists to understand other people’s right to move safely around the city.
“We will own his dream of making Surat cycling friendly” – Dr. Bhairrvi Joshi
The new Mobility and Road Safety Law is a game changer for Mexico’s urban mobility.
Areli Carreón, the Bicycle Mayor of Mexico City, is a longtime activist who has been working to promote urban cycling for over 20 years; from empowering civil society to lobbying for policy change around cycling and urban mobility. Under her title as Bicycle Mayor, together with advocacy group Bicitekas and the Safe Mobility Coalition, successfully achieved the approval of Mexico City’s new General Law of Mobility and Road Safety, which guarantees the right to mobility and prioritises sustainable active transport. Passed after years of lobbying, on the 29th of March of 2022, the Congress finally unanimously approved the ruling, which establishes the proven and life-saving ‘Safe Systems’ approach that is in line with the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety established by the World Health Organisation.
This law represents a huge step not only because it makes streets safer by including the risk factors established by the WHO in policy, but also because it achieved the modification of the 4th article in the Mexican Constitution adding that every person has the right to equitable, sustainable, safe, efficient, comfortable, and equal mobility.
“We must celebrate that today we gained a great piece of legislation that puts us at the global level in mobility matters. This new law is likely the best piece of legislation in Latin America on the topic” – Salomón Chertorivski
Relief Riders support the most vulnerable and turn the tide on cycling rhetoric.
“A Relief Rider is a friend willing to help the elderly and vulnerable people in our local communities. We are a part of the solution, not the problem” – Sathya Sankaran
“What are the cyclists of Bengaluru doing?” On the 26th of March of 2020, at the start of the first COVID-19 lockdown, this post on Twitter caught the attention of Sathya, the Bicycle Mayor of Bengaluru. Whether it was meant seriously or not, this marked the beginning of the Relief Riders.
Relief Riders is a group of passionate cyclists that mobilised in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing emergency delivery of supplies to the elderly. The scale and impact of this initiative grew rapidly thanks to coordination across the Bicycle Mayor Network. 9 of the 12 cities that joined were run by Bicycle Mayors, leading to 250+ riders distributing supplies to over 2,000 families by the second wave of the pandemic. In addition, the hyperlocal delivery effort also sought to tackle the intersecting problem of climate change. In total, they were able to save 5 tonnes of potentially emitted CO2 emissions.