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A petition is underway to have the bicycle nominated for the 2016 Nobel Prize for Peace.
The bicycle is many things. A means of sustainable transportation, a way to have fun, a form of exercise, a way to cart your belongings. Beyond its direct practical uses though, the humble bicycle also does much to improve the communities which choose to use it. Bike use improves local environments, reduces inequality, facilitates the development of community, reduces health disparities, and enables people to feel joy.
These last benefits of bicycling are the ones focused on by Italian radio hosts Massimo Cirri and Sara Zambotti, who have recently started a petition to have the bicycle nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. As the BBC reports, Cirri and Zambotti claim the bicycle is “an instrument of peace.” It does not cause wars – such as those frequently fought over oil – and is “the most democratic means of transportation available to humanity.”
Cirri and Zambotti are hosts of the popular Caterpillar program on Italian state radio, and are using their position to collect signatures for the petition, which they plan to deliver to the Nobel Committee by bike relay.
They cite the bike’s relative safety as a means of transportation, which causes considerably fewer casualties on the roads than cars, and the bike’s ability to foster independence in children.
To make the claim that the bicycle is a vehicle of “liberation and resistance,” Cirri and Zambotti use the example of Italian cycling champion Gino Bartali, who used the disguise of long-distance training to ferry counterfeit documents hidden in the frame of his bicycle in order to save Jews during World War Two.
While their claims about the positive impacts of cycling are indisputable, the idea of an inanimate object receiving a Nobel Prize is unprecedented, to say the least. That said, if the Nobel Committee were to accept the petition and give the bicycle at least a nomination if not the win, the symbolic importance of that gesture would cement the bicycle’s increasingly recognized reputation as a vehicle for social change. The nomination deadline is February 1, 2016, we’ll be signing the petition, watching out for the bike relay to Oslo, and watching this development with an eager eye!
Hilary Angus is the Online Editor at Momentum Mag. She writes about the intersection of bicycles and social change. @HilaryAngus