NAIROBI, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- UN Environment on Sunday launched a bicycle ride in Kenyan capital Nairobi to raise awareness of the role of sustainable urban transportation in reducing air pollution.
The UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim said the cycling that was attended by hundreds of international and local riders signifies a revolutionary move toward road development within the African and other world cities.
"The adoption of bike rides in the city will make the city friendly to the people as well as help reduce air pollution," Solheim said in Nairobi during the launch of cycling that was also attended by the Ambassador of China, Liu Xianfa and other envoys.
He noted the launch is important given many people live in urban areas where air quality is below the World Health Organization (WHO) standards.
Solheim applauded Rwanda government for keeping the capital city Kigali clean hence becoming Africa's leading example.
He called for government support toward the development of policies and laws that support clean environment.
"It is time to redesign our roads and embrace pathways where city dwellers could easily walk and ride their bikes as this helps reduce air pollution and also keep them physically fit," the UN Environment head added.
He suggested that countries set aside a bike riding days in the calendar to help reduce the seven million deaths that are caused by air pollution.
Nairobi County Governor Mike Sonko revealed that plans are at advanced stage to launch major air, pollution and afforestation program that will help change the environmental status of the city.
"We welcome the partnership as it ushers in a rare opportunity to help reduce air pollution and environmentally related diseases," Sonko said.
According to the WHO, 6.5 million people die annually as a result of poor air quality while only 12 percent of cities have air quality measures that meet WHO standards.
Alongside the WHO and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, UN Environment is part of the global campaign which aims to mobilize cities and individuals to protect our health and planet from the effects of air pollution.