www.mobycon.nl ‘Bicycle training for adults in the Netherlands. Good practices and methods .’ Author: Angela van der Kloof, Mobycon,In the Netherlands cycling is a crucial part of the transport system and culture. For men and women, for young,middle-aged and old, for the rich and for the poor, for the masses, but also for several aldermen, ministers. From the beginning of the 20thcentury on, Dutch princesses and queens could be seen on a bicycle.People that have come to live in the Netherlands and came from Arriving in the Netherlands, seeing so many women cycling, things startnon-cycling countries started picking up cycling. Especially women to change. Many participants in cycling courses state that they wantwith young children want to learn to cycle, as the opportunities that to learn to cycle, because it is like a dream they hope to become true.cycling offers fits very well for their specific transport needs. Some women learn cycling from a neighbour, a husband or a sister.They find that with the bike it is easier to take the shoppings (if you But for most women it is really important to do this in a group with anhave the right bags and racks). They know that cycling is healthy, it experienced cyclist as a trainer. The group helps you to overcome thegives them independence, it makes them feel more comfortable to cultural and personal barriers.adapt to the local transportation culture and off course it makes iteasier to combine their roles in the household with work or school,Why cycle training?We have a history of cycle training for immigrant and refugeewomen for more than 25 years. From the 1970’s on many womenfrom countries around the Mediterranean and from Surinam startedto come and live in the Netherlands. These were typically countrieswithout a cycling-culture for women. Many women have been taughtas a girl that cycling is not suitable for them, but for their brothersand fathers. Cycling is associated with masculinity, speed, dangerand freedom of movement. All things that a lot of parents do not wishfor their daughters…
www.mobycon.nl What about the men? Many men learn to cycle in their youth. Also, they develop the skills a person needs when active in public space. Parents encourage boys to explore the world and take part in traffic. This starting point makes it easier for most immigrant and refugee men to pick up cycling in the Netherlands. On the other hand, many men are more sensitive than women, for the fact that a bicycle is seen as a poor man’s vehicle. This is a serious constraint. Also, knowing the skills of riding a bicycle, does not mean knowing the rules of traffic for cyclists, knowing how to repair bicycles, or knowing how to teach your children safe cycling. In the Netherlands a few initiatives of cycling courses for men have started up.Who organises the cycle training and why do they do this? Judith from Kenya:Most courses are being organised in community centres and “I learned cycling, so I can learn anything!”women’s organisations all over the country. Here it started asgrassroots activity: women asked their language teachers andvolunteers to teach them how to cycle. This process of women On the level of the family and informal network the impact can alsoasking for cycle training is still going on in the whole country. be seen:The organisations use the cycle training as an instrument to stimulate • The children are being taken out by bike (so they learn to cyclepeople to participate in society and not as a goal in itself. This is a in traffic by doing it with their parents);very important finding as it has implications for choices made in the • Families can have recreational bicycle rides together;fields of materials, methods, organisation and personnel. Also it has • The female cyclists are role models for their sisters, daughtersimplications for the impact of the cycle training. and friends!Impact of the training On the level of the society the impact can be in the fields of:From an instrumental perspective (seeing cycling as an instrument • More cyclists;for participation) the impact of the cycle training on the personal • Less congestion in the city;level can be described as: • Air quality;• The mobility is enlarged; • Health;• People have adapted to the local usages and modes of • Social cohesion. transportation;• The sense of equality is enhanced; Materials, methods, organisation and personnel• The sense of freedom is enhanced. When starting cycle training for adults a lot of choices need to be made. Here we will discuss several important issues. Keep in mind that the cycle training is an instrument, not a goal! What materials and methods do we use? Cycle courses typically consist of a theoretical part and a practical part. In the theoretical part the participants learn the basic rules of traffic for cyclists. In the practical part the physical skills are being taught. When the participants are skilled enough they also start to practise cycling in traffic. For the theoretical part the teaching method: ‘Get on your bike’ (Stap op de fiets) is being used. This method consists of a booklet for participants, a booklet for the trainer, picture cards to be used during the training and certificates.
www.mobycon.nl “It’s hard to stop!”, Hassina Sakher cries out. The front wheel of the bike waggles while one of her legs hops to kill the speed. Ithelma Nicolaas steps onto her bike, but doesn’t manage to move it forward before she steps down again. “My problem is that I turn the pedals the wrong direction and get out of balance”, she laughs.For the practical lessons the materials and methods mostly used in a peer group and with some role models around. Having that in mind,the Netherlands are the DVD and booklet ‘Get on your bike step by it becomes clear that the choice for personnel is very important. Thestep’ (Stap voor stap op de fiets). best match is a mix of trainers and volunteers with different cultural backgrounds (including a Dutch background).Some of the basic ideas behind these publications: A good training for the trainers helps building expertise and quality.• Start with level 0• Aim at as much success as possible, so make small steps Recent developments• Making mistakes is part of the learning process Over the years we can see that there is more attention for cycle• Be aware of the different ways to learn: by hearing, by seeing, by training for adults in the Netherlands. Local organisations manage doing to get some kind of funding, although this is mainly project based.• In the multicultural context the seeing and doing is even more Getting the attention and budgets needed is very often due to the important than with homogeneous groups dedication of a person (or a few persons) at the local level. In the• Make room for diversity good cases these are the managers and project leaders1 . In the one• A professional image of the materials city the funding comes from the safety in traffic budget (like Tilburg), in other cities most courses are being paid by sport and budgets (likeWhat about organisation and personnel? Amsterdam), also the budgets for participation and community workWhen organising a cycle course for women several specific aspects are addressed (like Weert, Breda, Den Haag, Rotterdam).need to be taken into account. A few examples follow here.It is important to provide the group with some training bikes. These More policymakers start paying attention to cycle training for adults,bikes should be small enough to put the foot on the pedal. The anxiety for children and the elderly. The training for children started to be anto fall will be far less. Special attention for the saddle is a good idea. issue as in some cities less and less children cycle to school and asSitting on a saddle for the first time hurts and a very hard saddle will children of 12-14 years old have a relatively high percentage of roadmake it worse. In this multicultural context it is helpful to be aware accidents. The attention for the elderly must be seen in the Dutchof female circumcision. Everybody can imagine the impact of that on context of a growing percentage of elderly people that want to leadsitting on the saddle. an active life.For many women starting to learn the skills of cycling is really scary.You need courage to pick up cycling as an adult, especially when There is more awareness in Dutch society that learning to cycle asyour cultural background does not support cycling or mobility for an adult is not easy. The cycle training in itself is always a nice itemwomen. In many cases the most comfortable way to learn it, is within for local newspapers, radio and television. As more immigrant and 1 Unfortunately there are also a lot of cases where the management cannot be convinced by the workers and volunteers.
www.mobycon.nlrefugee women dear to speak and be seen in public, there is more Due to more awareness a rise of attention for the quality of the coursesattention for it. The Cycle Friends programme (Fietsvriendinnen) by can be seen. Organisations feel the need to deliver nice courses thatCycling Support (Landelijk Steunpunt Fiets) contributed to the rise of people like to attend, with good consideration of safety aspects. Thisattention and awareness by using a positive image. goes hand in hand with a growing attention for train-the-trainers.Also, the Fietsberaad and the Fietsersbond (Cyclist Federation)started to pay attention to immigrants and refugees as a target groupand to cycle training for adults, children and elderly. INERS ! TRAIN-DE-TRA erer Foto: Sander Foed Interested in a better understanding of the qualitative aspect and train-the-trainers? Please contact Angela van der Kloof at Mobycon: email@example.com