The United Nation’s 'Convention on the Rights of a Child' has stated that children should develop their physical abilities to their fullest potential, respect the natural environment and have opportunities for recreational and leisure activity.
Cycling provides all these, argues the European Cyclists’ Federation, the co-organizing body of Velo-city, which takes place at the end of June in Vancouver, Canada.
Across the globe, the number of children that walk or cycle to school has decreased from 82 percent to 14 percent within the last 30 years. In the US, only 1 percent of children ride bicycles to school. Contrast this with the Netherlands. where nearly 49 percent of children cycle to school.
“By making healthier mobility a universal right, we can boost the case for governments to invest in cycling for children," said Kevin Mayne, Director of Development at the European Cyclists’ Federation.
"The more children cycle, the more parents buy bicycles too. Velo-city is the place where we will provide advocates, campaigners, politicians and planners with the tools and expertise to get more children cycling.”
The global conference comes at a time when North America is undergoing a cycling renaissance of sorts. In Canada there has been a 42 percent increase in the number of daily bike commuters between 1996 and 2006. In the US, the share of bike trips made for the journey has risen by 50 percent between 2001 and 2009.
Bike sharing is also taking off, with schemes now in Washington DC, Montreal, Toronto and Minneapolis. New York is set to have a 10,000 strong fleet of public bicycles in place this summer and Vancouver is also looking to do the same.
“The growth in cycling in Canada and the US is in large part due to the hard work of bicycle advocacy groups supported by the bicycle industry,” said Mayne.
He is encouraging companies in the bicycle industry to join the Cycle Industry Club, which seeks to triple the number of cyclists in Europe by 2020. Big names like SRAM and Trek have already pledged funds, and are seeking €1 million for bicycle advocacy by the end of the year.
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