Oelebrating Bicycle Day on April 22, the Korea Cycling Festival kicked off with the official opening of the Korea Cross-Country Cycling Road linking the entire nation.
Lee Sam-kul, vice minister of the Ministry of Public Administration and Security (MOPAS), said in a meeting with reporters at the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club on April 21, “April 22 is designated as Bicycle Day in accordance with the Act on the Promotion of the Use of Bicycles. The festival takes place under a cause of making bicycle riding, which can reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the starting point of green growth.”
The 2012 Korea Cycling Festival was the fourth annual event. This year’s anniversary was significant in that it also coincided with two mega-events °™ the official opening of the Korea Cross-Country Cycling Road and the opening of Tour de Korea 2012.
The Korea Cycling Festival was organized jointly by MOPAS, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST), and the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM). It was supervised by the Incheon Metropolitan City government and sponsored by the Korea Sports Promotion Foundation, K-water, and the Korean Cycling Federation.
The Festival consisted of the Cycling Festival, which celebrated its fourth anniversary this year since the first one held in Seoul in 2009, the ceremony for the opening of the Korea Cross-Country Cycling Road encompassing the four major rivers, and the international road bicycle race.
The Festival commenced at Jeongseojin Square on the man-made island of Arabit in Seo-gu, Incheon, which is the starting point of the countrywide cycling road that stretches from Incheon to Busan. It brought together over 8,000 attendees and visitors, including many notables from Korea and abroad such as President Lee Myung-bak and President Pat McQuaid of the International Cycling Union, cycling enthusiasts and festival-goers. Also, a bicycle ride took place on the 16-km-long section of the Ara Bicycle Road created along the Ara Waterway from Jeongseojin Square to Gimpo Terminal.
The start of the festival coincided with the long-awaited opening of all the sections of the Korea Cross-Country Cycling Road, extending 1,757 km in total distance. Celebrations for the opening of the nationwide cycling road were held at 10 sites along the four rivers led by local officials of the MLTM’s Regional Construction Management Administration and local government bodies, with residents and cycling enthusiasts from each region parading on the major sections.
Parades, individually organized by each city, also took place throughout the nation, including Chuncheon, Daejeon, Ulsan and Seogwuipo.
Tour de Korea 2012, a road bicycle race authorized by the International Cycling Union, began on the same day. Contestants raced on road bikes from April 22 to April 29 along the 1,800 km-long cycling road that connects the entire nation from Incheon to Seoul, Buyeo, Gwangju, Yeosu, Geochang, Gumi, Yeongju, Chungju, Yeoju, and Hanam. On the first day of the event, a 55-km-long race from Incheon’s Jeongseojin Square to Olympic Park in Seoul was also held.
In addition, farmers’ markets were held by the MOPAS on April 22 at the 10 venues of the opening celebrations, including Jeongseojin Square. The markets, held in association with Nonghyup, or the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, and the Korea Local Promotion Foundation, were designed to enhance the experience for all festival visitors by providing the chance to purchase quality local specialties directly from producers at affordable prices.
MOPAS Minister Maeng Hyung-kyu said, “The Korea Cycling Festival is taking place on April 22, which is both Bicycle Day and International Earth Day. It will serve to highlight the many eco-friendly features of bicycle riding, which is a breakthrough for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and an effective means of saving energy at a time when oil prices are skyrocketing.” He added, “We sincerely hope that the Festival will inspire all people to meditate on the significance of green growth and lead to the expansion of the bicycle rider base.”