Ride a bike for health and environment

03 May 2017

Bike Maldives Strategy has been developed by 3 enthusiastic biking Founders, to provide people with guidance on expanding people’s awareness on and off road bike network, improving bike facilities, enhancing   cyclist education and delivering promotions that encourage people to bike as a means of transport, recreation and sport. 

The idea was first tossed by Madih Ismail, a veteran sport enthusiastic who organize sports events. He borrowed the idea while in Indonesia, attending a sports seminar. His idea was to encourage people to ride bikes for healthy life style. Madih discussed his idea with Ahmed Hassan Didi and requested to develop a concept for Maldives. Ahmed a strategic planner and a sports administrator, engaged in Maldives cricket administration, did a research on developing a biking strategy for Maldives and came up with the Bike Maldives concept which is being stated here. This became a reality with the support provided by the 3rd founder and the current President of the Bike Maldives, Zuliakha Hassan Didi. She came to Maldives after several years being overseas, with a double bike and started working on the ground finding and attracting people who can join to promote the biking strategy. All 3 made it happen and later an Entrepreneur and young IT personnel Bassam joined to become the 4th Founder of the Bike Maldives.

Bike Maldives launched its formal activities on 9th January 2015, with enthusiastic volunteers. Over the past 2 years’ series of activities related to biking was held. Among them include participation in awareness campaigns, biking tours, sports biking. Also in August 2016, Bike Maldives was registered under the Ministry of Home Affairs as a non-profit organization for promotion of healthy life style through biking while creating awareness on protection of our environment.  New Executive Committee was elected, with a member base of more than 100 bikers for a period of 4 years. 

Bike Maldives organized two successful tours. One to Fuvahmulah, on the invitation of Atoll Council,  in April 2016, to mark the world Earth day. Similar tour was organized last year with Public Service Media to celebrate Alhaa Eid. The tour was held in Laamu Atoll. Daily and weekly events are organized in Male’ and Hulhumale respectively.   

Maldives Transport Strategy. 
 The Maldives Transport Strategy recognizes the need to promote alternative forms of transport over private vehicle use, noting that 90% of work journeys in Male and other islands are by motor bikes and cars and that this is not sustainable, environmentally friendly or healthy. 

 Island states around the world are looking for alternative forms of healthier and environment friendly transport systems.  Bike Maldives Strategy notes whilst it will remain important to provide a reasonable level of private motor car accessibility, there is a need for a renewed focus on financing and advocating improved, integrated and accessible public transport, bike and pedestrian facilities and intermodal linkages. Bike Maldives Strategy will create awareness in influencing government policy on developing environment friendly transport facilities. 

Growth in biking will reflect annual growth and biking paths will be major tourist attractions. Bike paths will be constructed to national standards and an asset management system will ensure maintenance is done promptly. The bike will be used extensively for local trips to school, work, shops, and to other services and all commercial buildings have bike facilities. 

Providing for biking in Maldives aligns with numerous  national,  and  local policies including the Safe Transport Strategy, Municipal Strategic Statement for Clean Environment  and the Maldivian  National Environment Strategy.  

Maldivian Bike Trends 
In a changing global environment biking is increasingly being a cheap and accessible form of transportation, recreation and sport. Rising fuel prices can been linked to growth in bike sales nationwide, and Bike Maldives Strategy is an initiative can surpass motor vehicle sales with the next seven years. Often it is assumed that the growth in bike sales represents only a rise in children biking. However, the Biking Promotion Fund in Australia notes that for every four bikes sold to children or young people in Australia there are seven bikes sold to adults. So, Bike Maldives Strategy initiatives hope that this can be replicated in Maldives too.  

Developing Bike Maldives Strategy
Providing for biking is about connecting people and creating awareness on healthy life style, sport or recreation. Biking education and promotion aims to increase the safe use of these facilities. Providing quality bike facilities increases bike use and leads to many local and national benefits including; improving the health and well being of communities, reducing congestion, improving the environment and contributing to the local economy. Islands that provide for biking have better amenity, are cleaner and are more desirable places to live than islands built around the motor vehicle. 

Bike Maldives Strategy has been developed through consultation with the community and various stakeholders. Consultation included a questionnaire which generated over 500 responses, surveys completed by over 50% of Male and island schools, bike rides undertaken with bikers and over 20 one on one meetings with numerous agencies and departments. Many Maldivian residents are passionate about seeing quality bike infrastructure and increased support for biking in islands. 

Bike Maldives Strategy recognizes that Male and other islands is well placed to evolve as a biking nation. The strategy’s vision for the future of Bike Maldives includes increasing the networking through bike, creating a bike friendly Maldives and bike friendly schools and workplaces as well as maximizing opportunities to increase bike tourism and attract bikers to the Maldives. 

Aims and Objectives 
The aim of Bike Maldives Strategy is: 

 To make the Maldives more bike friendly by developing a strategic plan for the creation/improvement of bike networks for recreational, competition and commuter bikers. 

Events & Activities.  
The following bike works program has been devised to guide all partner through the implementation of the bike network and associated bike; facility, maintenance, coordination, education and promotion priorities. 
  • o Gain agreement from the Male and islands bike community and clubs on a system of collaborating; 
  • o National and international biking events, tournaments and competitions
  • o Initiate annual planning events including tours to within and overseas; 
  • o ‘School Travel Plans’. A School Travel Plan aims to develop customized initiatives that support the use of active bikes programs for schools.  
  • o Bike On, Bike Ed and the Bike Ed Challenge are also school based initiatives that focus on developing bike safety skills and knowledge. The Bike Maldives will advocate for the expansion of school-based bike education programs in Maldives and should support increasing the age groups involved to include secondary school children. 
  • o The Bike Maldives also host a series of education sessions including classes on bike safety for young and old, bike maintenance, bike purchasing and riding as a family activity. 
  • o Health City – Ride – Every Friday: Enjoy two hours of enjoyment with family. A ride for all family members, a bike can be rented from Bike Maldives and have real fun from 6:00-8:00 in the morning. Such programs are in Male and greater Male area such as Vilingilli, Hulhumale and need to extend to other islands.  
  • o Create a forum for answering/addressing comments and ideas from bikers about network and facility issues. Such a forum could be web or email based and should include a process of following up with relevant departments to ensure suggestions are followed up appropriately.  
  • o Working with Bike Groups and Clubs, define a series of event/training routes that event organizers can be encouraged to use.  
  • o Establish a series of themed bike days and programs to support and encourage biking in Male and Islands this may include: 
    • Learn to Ride Day; 
    • Take a Kid Biking; 
    • Ride or Stride to School; 
    • Bike Maintenance; 
    • Bike Purchasing; 
    • Senior Rides; and 
    • Women’s Bike Days. 
    • Social messages; 
    • Health and Fitness messages; 
    • Bike ride days; 
    • Competitions. 

The success of any bike strategy depends on finances generated by assistance from businesses as CSR projects and the Government, civil society and Council’s willingness and ability to participate in the programs. Such that Bike Maldives will work with all the stakeholders such that to ensure implementation is carried out as planned and be responsive to new issues. The bike strategy recommends that the Male and other islands allocate resources for sustainable transport projects within Councils. This will ensure the actions from the bike strategy are implemented within the stated time frames.