The Happiness Cycle is set to put a smile on the faces of thousands of Australian teenagers in 2014. 

A bicycle initiative that aims to get more teens riding bikes, the Happiness Cycle will work with Bicycle Network and local councils to distribute more than 7,500 bicycles to 15 to 17 year olds by the end of 2014.

Adding to the fun is an app that harnesses the power of social media for a good cause. Anyone who wants to be involved in the Happiness Cycle program can download the app to track their cycling progress, challenge friends and collect badges and rewards.

Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards hopes the program will improve the health of young people by encouraging them to cycle more often. Recent surveys show that only one in five 15 to 17 year olds ride a bike once a week.

“We’re excited about this program as it gives us the opportunity to reverse the drop off in physical activity of our teens, through an innovative and engaging behaviour change program,” said Craig.

Cycling, like all exercise, has a strong positive impact on physical, and emotional well being, and there are many studies which demonstrate that people who exercise regularly have better cognitive, physical and emotional outcomes than those with more sedentary lives.

This is one of the reasons The Happiness Cycle organisers hope to instill in young people a love of cycling that they will carry throughout their lives.

 “We think the focus on teenagers in this program is great – not just for the improvements to their physical health and wellbeing, it’s also because teens enjoy their independence,” said Craig.

BMX star Sam Willoughby, one of the program’s ambassadors, can attest to the freedom that riding a bike can offer.

As a teen, Sam’s love of cycling took him all the way to the United States. He went on to win a silver medal in BMX at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and the BMX world championship in the same year.

“I was fortunate enough to have a bike as a teenager and it quickly became an important part of my lifestyle. My bike was my passport to freedom and it’s great to see local councils aware of the benefits cycling can have for their communities,” he said.

Social Media App-iness 

Looking for more info on the Happiness Cycle app? Sam steps you through the process in the video below.