Netherlands Embassy marks World Bicycle Day through encouraging Cycling to Work
On the 3rd of June, The Netherlands Embassy in Colombo marked World Bicycle Day by awarding the winners of the Bike to Work call for proposals for practical solutions to stimulate work-home cycling in Sri Lanka. The call was launched earlier this year during a webinar series on sustainable trade and investment between Sri Lanka and the Netherlands in the context of 70 years of bilateral diplomatic relations which are available to view on the Embassy Facebook page.
World Bicycle Day draws attention to the benefits of using the bicycle: it is an affordable, healthy and sustainable means of transportation. The bicycle is cheap and contributes to a healthy lifestyle as well as less congestion and cleaner air. Indeed, a sustainable transport system that promotes economic growth, reduces inequalities while bolstering the fight against climate change is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Today, the Netherlands is the world’s leading cycling nation. However, this was not always the case: an oil crisis in the 1970s contributed to a mindset shift leading to many Dutch people adopting cycling for daily activities and their commute – rain, snow or shine. This shift was supported by urban planning that promoted safer roads for cyclists, parking facilities and incentive schemes.
In Sri Lanka, there is also increasing interest in the benefits of cycling. Following up on earlier activities to encourage sustainable mobility in Sri Lanka and on the occasion of World Cycling Day, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands therefore convened a group of Sri Lankan stakeholders that work on sustainable mobility in Sri Lanka in conjunction with awarding the winners of the call for proposals. Representatives from various government, private sector and advocacy led groups including the Urban Development Authority, Road Development Authority, Department of Motor Traffic, United Nations Development Programme-CITRA, Bank of Ceylon, PICKME, UBER and Ride For Life discussed their current and pipeline projects and exchanged ideas on how Sri Lanka could drive sustainable mobility forward through the shared examples submitted in the proposals. They agreed the current challenging situation in Sri Lanka could also be a window of opportunity to push a mindset change on sustainable mobility, including cycling and public transport in Sri Lanka.
The winning Bike to Work proposals were chosen with the support of two Dutch organisations that support shifts to sustainable mobility worldwide, namely the Dutch Cycling Embassy and the Iganga Foundation, and the local organisation Ride for Life that advocates for adopting cycling as lifestyle mobility option in Sri Lanka. The winner of the call for proposal was WISHQUE pvt Ltd that proposed to develop an open source app solution focused on ease of use, safety and incentivise cycling to work for companies and organisations to use. Citizens’ Development Business Finance PLC was awarded the second place, having already adopted bike to work within their organisation and in recognition of the solutions and incentives developed such as concessionary loan scheme for purchasing bicycles. The third place is shared between Ecoware, Save a Life, Green Life Generation and Gampaha Wickramarachchi University – Faculty of Indigenous Social Sciences and Management Studies who were all awarded consultancy hours to support further development of their proposed solutions that focused on community focused mobility solutions and coupled cycling with waste management, entrepreneurship and advocacy for sustainable mobility solutions.