New York, 27 April 2022 – Ranking United Nations officials, city authorities, and partners, donned helmets and peddled on bikes in the streets of the Big Apple to show solidarity for non-motorized transportation and express support for the New Urban Agenda.
The ride and an ensuing side event were co-organized by UN-Habitat, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), the International Climate Initiative funded Urban Pathways project, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the UN Road Safety Fund.
The events were held to coincide with the High-Level Meeting called by the president of the United Nations General Assembly to raise attention to the New Urban Agenda (NUA) six years after the NUA was adopted in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016 at Habitat III.
The morning bike ride featured high level participants including Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat; Mr. Jean Todt, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety; Ms. Heather Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of ITDP; and Mr. Ydanis Rodriguez, Commissioner of the Department of Transport, City of New York, who were all sharing their enthusiasm for sustainable mobility.
“Knowing where the city has come from in terms of traffic congestion, pollution and accidents, and being able to witness such a change now is an encouraging experience for me. The city provides an example of how these challenges can be addressed by setting the right priorities for policies and investments, combined with citizen participation. Streets have become safe places for people to move, stay and play,” Ms. Sharif said in her remarks.
Ms. Thompson explained that riding the bicycle contributes to various global goals and emphasised that “cycling is a complete climate solution that has proven its resilience time and time again.”
The bicycle ride was followed by a side event titled “Advancing the NUA by building on the global momentum to reclaim streets for pedestrians and cyclists”, which brought together more than 150 participants in a hybrid format.
The event featured high-level participants including the Executive Secretary of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Ms. Olga Algayerova; the mayor of Quelimane in Mozambique, Mr. Manuel de Araújo; and the Governor of the Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile, Claudio Benjamín Orrego.
“Cycling can bring us very many benefits in terms of social, economic and environmental development,” Ms. Algayerova said in her opening remarks. She further shared her experience of commuting to work on an electric bike during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The discussions highlighted that there is a unique window of opportunity for change in the way we organize our transport systems, building on the momentum of COVID-19 and cities’ efforts to expand walking and cycling.
The participants agreed that a key message to be conveyed to the Member States participating in the High-Level Meeting was that cycling infrastructures -- just like any other city infrastructure networks such as water, sewage, or power-- are critical to achieving the sustainable and equitable cities envisioned in the New Urban Agenda.
They further agreed that safe, dedicated and continuous cycling infrastructures that provide an incentive for people to start cycling are high priority.
As part of the final call for action, panelists recommended ways to make cycling cities a reality, including developing sustainable mobility policies that highlight the importance of cycling, providing visionary leadership, building capacity of cities and citizens, and exploring innovative financing opportunities.