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Monaco and SNCF Celebrate World Bicycle Day!

June 3 is World Bicycle Day: a day of appreciation for this simple, healthy and environmentally-friendly mode of transport!

Monaco celebrates World Bicycle Day on 3 June © Principality of Monaco

For many of us, learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage. But the act of cycling carries so many benefits that we might not think about when we hop onto the saddle for the first time. It's for this reason that the United Nations General Assembly decided in April 2018 to dedicate June 3 every year to recognising "the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle... a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit and sustainable means of transport".

With zero fossil fuel emissions and no contribution to the greenhouse effect, bikes help to improve the air quality and reduce climate change. Monaco, which is known for its environmentally forward-thinking projects and strategies, is working on a number of initiatives to encourage cycling in and around the Principality. New cycle paths around the Larvotto area will be opened for use from July 2021, while the ecological offshore extension planned to be finished in 2025 will also be bike-friendly.

Monabike station. c. DR

If you don't have your own bike, though, Monaco offers another green cycling solution. Look out for the scarlet-red Monabikes cruising around the Principality - there are 390 of these self-service bikes for use by the public, stationed at 42 different locations across Monaco! With a quick and simple location-finder feature on 'Monapass', Monaco's all-in-one public transport app for Apple and Android, users can see where available bikes are parked and hunt one down for a ride.

Bicycle Sunday!

And, in addition to World Bicycle Day on 3 June, Monaco holds its own celebrations of cycling throughout the year, with the Environment Department's Bicycle Sundays! The next edition is set to take place on Sunday 8 August 2021 at Port Hercule, bringing together young and old to reclaim an area that we usually see packed with cars.

SNCF gets onboard

With so many cities, regions and states like Monaco now partnering with self-service bike companies to encourage citizens to travel around in a green way, French rail company SNCF has also hopped on the bandwagon in its commitment to the national objective of tripling the number of cyclists in France by 2024. With more provisions for bike sheds at stations, designated spaces for bikes on trains and bike rental points for travellers wishing to continue their journey by cycling after getting off the train, SNCF is aiming to "provide an end-to-end green transport solution for all".

Moreover, SNCF is equipping its passengers with the skills needed to repair and service their bikes to promote safe cycling. As part of the '1001 Stations' programme, SNCF Gares & Connexions is developing new spaces inside stations to facilitate bike-related workshops on topics such as how to repair, dismantle and fold away a bike before boarding a train.

A new scheme launched on 19 May, which will run until October 2021, is offering bicycle repair and maintenance workshops at 20 stations in the Île-de-France region, aimed at helping people reintegrate into the labour market: with acquired knowledge of bicycle mechanics and technical expertise, it is hoped that this programme will enable more people to find work not only in the bike industry but also in the sectors of waste management, hospitality and services.

As more cities and travel companies encourage cycling, France hopes to triple its number of cyclists by 2024

So, as companies, governments and international bodies make more efforts to recognise the advantages of cycling and to encourage green travel, we might expect to see even more bikes out on the roads in the coming years. While bikes provide immense environmental value to communities on a local and global scale, it's also true that a good bike ride outdoors provides us with a healthy dose of fresh air and exercise - an immediate benefit we can all appreciate!

- Georgina Findlay

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