Wollongong, the only UCI Bike City in the Southern Hemisphere and host of the 2022 UCI Road World Championships, is celebrating World Bicycle Day today as community leaders involved in bike riding encourage others to give it a go.

The Organising Committee for the UCI Road World Championships, Wollongong 2022, offered local residents and keen cyclists a free coffee at Diggies and North Beach Kiosk, along with a mechanical check up from Shimano this morning.

Then the Wollongong 2022 team took to Crown Street Mall markets with Cancer Council NSW to launch the first ever Wollongong Ride500 Battle of the Bosses and speak with the community about the upcoming World Championships.

World Bicycle Day is an initiative of the UN General Assembly that celebrates the environmental, health and well-being and social benefits of bike riding while acknowledging the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle.

Wollongong 2022 CEO Stu Taggart said the city of Wollongong was embracing all aspects of bike riding and the international cycling community would feel very welcome come September.

“We can’t wait to welcome the world’s best cyclists to Wollongong for the 2022 UCI Road World Championships in September, and it’s fantastic to see so many people riding around the city and using the local bike-riding facilities already,” Mr Taggart said.

“There will be so many benefits for the community and the city arising because of the event such as visitor expenditure with local businesses, a huge global broadcast reach and infrastructure improvements. But the real win is the change that happens when more people take up active transport or start riding for physical activity and leisure.

“On World Bicycle Day we invite everyone to discover the joy of bike riding with family and friends, to keep the wheels turning on their regular rides, try out a local Illawarra cycling club and support all bike riders by respectfully sharing the road and pathways.”

Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said Wollongong was proud to be a UCI Bike City.

“We are the only UCI Bike City in the Southern Hemisphere which is a testament to our robust Cycling Strategy 2030 and the enthusiasm of our community to jump on their bikes and enjoy riding experiences right across the city,” Mr Bradbery said.

“If you haven’t given bike riding a go yet, I encourage you to get out on the Blue Mile, take the kids or grandkids to Cringila Hills Mountain Bike Park or explore one of our many local bike tracks across our city or along our foreshore.

“Cycling is fun, free and suitable for all ages and abilities – find out why it’s one of the most popular activities around the world.”

AusCycling CEO Marne Fechner said riding a bike was not only for elite athletes, but for all Australians who enjoyed the feeling of freedom and adventure that comes from riding a bike.

“It’s fantastic that the United Nations General Assembly established World Bicycle Day to focus attention on the many personal, community and environmental benefits of bike riding,’’ Ms Fechner said.

“AusCycling is committed to increasing the number of Australians riding bikes and growing the sport by supporting our clubs and members, creating new opportunities through the Ride Nation bike education programs and marketplace and through educating Australians about the many and varied benefits of bike riding.

‘’The recent successes of Jai Hindley in the Giro d’Italia, the triumphs of Bec McConnell in MTB and the brilliant progress of our BMX riders is proof that our clubs and pathways can nurture riders from their first pedal-strokes to the international podium.’’

Cancer Council Southern NSW Lead Stephanie Lake said cycling had become a great connector and motivator among the local Wollongong community, which led to the creation of the Wollongong Ride500 Battle of the Bosses concept this year.

To celebrate the 2022 UCI Road World Championships, Cancer Council NSW is bringing together 10-15 Wollongong CEOs, managers or community leaders to take on the organisation’s existing Ride500 challenge – to cycle 500km in September – for a friendly ‘Wollongong Battle of the Bosses’ head-to-head.

“The UCI Road World Championships is a once in a lifetime event for us in Wollongong. We are thrilled to partner with Wollongong 2022 and Destination Wollongong to celebrate this and our UCI Bike City status through our new fundraising and ride challenge that will coincide with this historic event,” Ms Lake said.