In the cities of Amsterdam (and Tilburg) cycling education classes are being organised especially aimed at migrant women.
Background & Objectives
Several years ago, the city of Amsterdam introduced a package of cycling education aimed at migrant women. Ads in the local newspaper inform and motivate migrant women to register for the cycling lessons.
Each course consists of 10 lessons during one hour a week in a group of 10 to 12 participants. The first half of the course covers mainly the theoretical part of the cycling story. In the second half, the women actually participate in traffic and learn about traffic signs and regulations. The course ends with a final examination. The ones that pass receive their cycling certificate.
The city of Tilburg has also had similar types of cycling education for migrant women for the past 25 years. A course package ‘Get on the bike’ was being developed. The package consists of a manual, participant instructions, photo cards illustrating correct and incorrect traffic behaviour and cycling certificates. In Tilburg, every week during a few hours, thirty-six migrant women (divided into four cycling groups), are being thought how to ride their bicycle.
As is the case in Amsterdam, the participant’s backgrounds are various: women refugees from Somalia or Afghanistan, migrant women from Italy or Portugal, women originating from Morocco, Turkey or Suriname, they all attend the classes.
Lessons are divided into three parts: a practical cycling portion, a theoretical part and a socialising part. Each part is seen by the educators as equally important. The cycling lessons not only improves women’s cycling skills, it has become a real meeting place for migrant women, where they can talk to each other and exchange information. Many students tend to also engage in swimming lessons or aerobic classes thereafter.
For migrant women, cycling is seen as fast and cheap. It helps build confidence and independence and provides a hearty amount of exercise.
The Amsterdam program has suffered from financial cuts and therefore is not ongoing.
In 2004, the city of Tilburg founded the ‘Landelijk Steunpunt Fiets’. This organization advises individuals, provides cycling lessons, gives workshops and trainings, and produces educational materials. There is also a yearly "inspiration day" where teachers and organisers of cycling lessons further promote courses.
Tilburg has also expanded the cycling classes into the project ‘Fietsvriendinnen’ or ‘Cycling Female Friends’. In this project municipalities already organising cycling classes, are being encouraged to look for experienced cycling female volunteers who like to take the new migrant cyclists on cycling trips in order to practice their skills learned.
Further contact information:
City of Amsterdam
Mrs. Roxanne Stienstra
City of Tilburg
Centre for Migrant Women
Mrs. Angela van der Kloof
The original article in Dutch, "Fietsles geeft allochtone vrouwen meer zelfvertrouwen", can be found at http://www.fietsberaad.nl.
Fietsberaad is an initiative of the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, they are responsible for mobility policy in the Netherlands. Fietsberaad is embedded within the Dutch KPVV (Traffic and Transport Platform) that supports local authorities in their efforts to develop and implement traffic and transport policy by providing practical know-how, arranging meetings, and setting up networks.