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In the Netherlands cycling is a crucial part of the transport system and culture. For men and women, for young, middle-aged and old, the rich and the poor.
Cycling education is an essential element to keep up the high cycling rates. Also, it is an important instrument to make traffic safe for cyclists. In practice this means that there are three main target groups for cycling education: children, adults that come from countries with a non-cycling background and elderly.
This formal and informal education plays an important role in keeping up the high level of independent mobility for all.
Parents play an important role in the informal cycling education of their children. Schools add to this with theoretical and practical lessons. Apart from this education for children, there are also trainings for adults with a background from non-cycling countries. Especially women with young children want to learn to cycle, as the opportunity that cycling offers fits very well to their specific transportation needs.
Another specific target group for cycling education are the elderly. Traditionally elderly keep on cycling. Through education they are more aware of the specific aspects that many elderly face in traffic on their bicycle.
In the Netherlands the vast majority of the inhabitants know how to bicycle and know the rules of traffic for cyclists. People that drive a car are also cyclists at other moments during the day or week. Together with a lot of attention for road design, separation of transportation modes and traffic calming where necessary this has created a relatively safe environment for the many cyclists that are on the road each day.
The formal and informal cycling education system that has evolved in the Netherlands over the years, can be an inspiration for other countries that are developing their own cycling culture. Parents, schools, community groups and e.g. associations of elderly all play their specific role. At the same time, examples from other countries that are developing their cycling culture can be a source of inspiration for Dutch initiatives.