Today is World Bicycle Day | Sunday Observer

Today is World Bicycle Day

We all love to ride bicycles, don’t we? It is frightening when you first learn how to ride and you are likely to have fallen once or twice. But you master the art of riding in no time. Riding a bicycle gives you a feeling of freedom that no other hobby can provide. It is good for your health too – and will help you grow faster. It is good for the environment, being powered by your muscles alone. There are no fumes and no oils. It is cheap to own and run.

Today, children and adults all over the world are celebrating the first-ever World Bicycle Day. As cities get clogged with traffic, the bicycle has become a clean, cheap and swift means of transport. Millions of schoolchildren, including many here in Sri Lanka, ride a bicycle to their schools. Millions ride to work and for millions more, from fish vendors to postmen, the bicycle is their workplace.

Did you know that the bicycle is now exactly 200 years old ? That makes it older than the train and the car.

The first practical bicycle was designed by German Baron Karl von Drais, a civil servant to the Grand Duke of Baden. Drais invented his Laufmaschine (German for “running machine”) in 1817, that was called Draisine (English) or Draisienne (French) by the press.

However, some believe that the concept of the bicycle was first proposed by Gian Caprotti, a pupil of Leonardo Da Vinci, way back in 1534, though ne never actually made one.

The term bicycle was coined much later, around 1860 in France. The shape of the bicycle as we know it today emerged only in 1880.

Today, the bicycles you ride are very advanced, with lightweight frames, better brakes, dynamo lighting, multi-speed gears and alloy wheels. Some bicycles can be very expensive, but generally anyone can buy a bicycle at a very reasonable price. Some new bicycles have electric motors that help you climb hills with ease. Around 15,000 bicycles are sold in Sri Lanka every year. China produces about 80 percent of the world’s bicycles.

Today, cities around the world are encouraging residents to ride bicycles to reduce traffic. Amsterdam is the most bicycle-friendly city in the world with a vast network of bicycle lanes. Among the other most bike-friendly cities are Oslo (Norway), Nantes (France), Auckland (New Zealand) and Lyon (France). Cities around the world are working to make roads safer for cyclists and build more bicycle lanes.

Cycling is a popular sport here in Sri Lanka and around the world.

The most popular bicycle race in the world is the Tour De France, followed by similar tours of Italy and Spain. Cycle races are also held indoor, in a venue called a Velodrome.

You have to think of safety when riding a bicycle. It is better to wear a helmet, although not compulsory in Sri Lanka. If you ride at night, ensure that you have a front light and rear red reflector and wear luminous clothing. Cycling is a lot of fun if you put safety first.