On Wednesday, June 3, the Monrovia Cycling Club observed World Bicycle Day. Over 30 riders rode in a group from the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town to Central Monrovia and back, covering a distance of 25 km.
The event aimed to create awareness about the newly formed club and promote cycling. The group was formed in November 2019 by a group of bicycle riders who rode every Saturday morning as a medium to exercise. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, bikers wore mouth coverings during the event.
For general safety reasons, bikers during the event were also required to wear helmets and brightly colored outfits. Biking can be dangerous in Monrovia, as the city’s infrastructure lacks safety features such as bike trails or lanes. Moreover, drivers do not drive with an awareness of cyclists.
World Bicycle Day has been celebrated every June 3 since 2018. The day was selected by the United Nations to commemorate the uniqueness, longevity, and versatility of the bicycle, which has existed for two centuries as a simple, affordable, reliable, clean, and environmentally fit sustainable means of transport.
Despite the high level of poverty in Liberia and limited transportation options, few urban Liberians ride bikes. A visual survey of major and minor roads will find on average no bicycles within a 30-minute period while that same study produces dozens of cars and motorcycle taxis. Official government-backed traffic counts frequently exclude non-motorized modes of transportation.
Around the world, cycling has been increasing as a means of exercise and transportation, as gyms around the world have closed due to COVID-19 and public transportation systems are seen as a medium for getting infected. Worldwide – in Berlin, New York, Bogotá – the topic of pop-up bike lanes has developed great momentum. Pop-up bike lanes (also called emergency bike lanes) are temporary bike lanes that enable social distancing by providing more space for cyclists on the one hand and relieving the public transport system on the other. In Liberia, however, cycling remains on the fringe.
All photos courtesy of Yana Tumakova