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Celebrating World Bicycle Day: Why We Ride

According to the United Nations, World Bicycle Day is all about “acknowledging the uniqueness, longevity, and versatility of the bicycle… And that it is a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation.” Our reasons for cycling are as varied as the bikes we ride.

Training wheels or tandem, on mountains or roads, bicycles are beautiful vehicles for exploring the world, reducing our footprint, having fun, getting outside, and letting go of our worries. This year, we’re celebrating by sharing with you why we ride, and what it’s like to ride in our respective cities. We’d love you to join the party, too! Tell us! Why do you ride? 

 

Julien // Hong Kong

What is your earliest memory of riding a bike?

It was when I said my first word. I was sitting on the child’s seat behind my mom in Montreal, and I said, “banane.” When I was older, my dad rigged a bike by taking the training wheels off and attaching a broomstick to the back so he and my mom could hold onto it. I must have been going fast because my mom let go of the stick. I remember pedaling while looking at my shadow. I think at first I freaked out and probably wobbled a bit, but then I was like, “I can do this. I’m free!”

What is it like to bike in your city? 

Hong Kong is one of the least bikeable cities in the world. Drivers aren’t particularly crazy, but the streets are narrow, and there are no bike lanes. But in terms of cycling for leisure, I’ll ride the road bike up the hills super early in the morning when there is little traffic. Mountain biking is also great, especially on Lamma Island, where we live. Here on this island, there are no cars, just family walks, and trails.

Why do you ride?

It’s a bit of a “being in the moment” thing. There are moments of meditation. There are moments when afterward I realized that I sorted through some things, and it was clear that something was happening in the background. It’s more about the space I get to in my head than increasing the size of my thighs. 

 

Mara // Bordeaux 

What is your first (or favorite) memory of riding a bike?

I remember the numerous bike trips I took together with my family as a kid, mostly on the Northern Islands of Germany and in the Netherlands. We would always bring our bikes to our holiday destinations.

What is it like to bike in your city? 

There are more and more biking lanes in our city which is great. It is often easier and faster than public transportation though sometimes also dangerous because there are still too many cars driving too fast and not paying attention to bikers.

Why do you ride?

I commute to work every day by bike and train. It takes as much time as it would by car but is far cheaper. I like the fact that I exercise a bit before going to work and it is less stressful than taking the car and being stuck in traffic. I also get to read a book on my twenty-minute train ride.  

 

Vera // Barcelona

What is your first (or favorite) memory of riding a bike?

I remember going up a pretty steep path with my dad as a kid (maybe 5 or 6 years old) and I was complaining because it was so difficult. He said, “Don’t worry because now we can whiz down afterward.” And yes, going downhill was awesome! My favorite memory is when I went by bike to see a friend all across town one day before going into labor!

What is it like to bike in your city? 

Barcelona made a huge effort in the last 10 years to make cycling more attractive. We have a public bike rental service called Bicing where you can take a bike at one of the 517 stations and give it back at a different one after a maximum of 30 minutes. We have 231 kilometers of bike lanes right now and there was a 5.1 million euro investment to make it even more in 2021.

Why do you ride?

I’m always happy when I’m on a bike, especially close to the sea. We don’t have a car and mostly it’s just practical transport if I don’t want to take the bus or metro. I don’t often go on bike tours for leisure; it’s really just a sustainable and fun way to go places for me.  

 

Juncal // New York City

What is your first (or favorite) memory of riding a bike?

I have great memories of crossing bridges and riding expressways closed to traffic in New York during the two Five Boro Bike Tours I rode in 2012 and 2016. That sense of freedom (and safety!) is great.

What is it like to bike in your city? 

New York City has an increasing number of bike lanes and a great public bike-sharing system called Citi Bike. It has many cyclists too! There is some sort of camaraderie among early-morning cyclists commuting to work, which I love. Unfortunately, there are also too many cars and pedestrians, which is dangerous to cyclists.

Why do you ride?

I bike mostly on weekends to go to places and also for leisure. Biking along rivers, in parks, and discovering new neighborhoods is beautiful. Biking is fun and healthy.  

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