Train the Bicycle Trainer

The simple bicycle, a tool for social equity, an affordable and independent transportation option for everyone, until it isn't. Until you find yourself as an immigrant adult in a foreign country, where the bicycle is an unofficial national symbol and you don't know how to ride one. Angela van der Kloof tackles this adversity by helping immigrant women take their new Dutch life by the handlebars - teaching them how to ride a bicycle.

Nearly 25 years ago, Angela founded a "bike school" for training immigrant women. Her teaching has evolved to include train-the-trainer instruction, wherein others within the community learn how to teach adult cycling. At the Winter Cycling Congress in Winnipeg in February, Angela gave a workshop on the topic. 

In North America, our training style often takes the "knowledge is power" approach. Add to it our penchant for safety measures and mechanics and, well intentioned as it is, we've created a training style that's one gear shift away from being overcomplicated.

At the conference, Angela was asked about the first training step. Her reply was simple: students must get comfortable with the bike.

Wait. What about first memorizing that bending your left arm 90 degrees indicates a right-hand turn? What about "taking the lane?" 

”No,” she says, "the first step is walking the bicycle. Then, when they're ready, they move to the next step."

The next step is sitting on the saddle.

The third step is turning the handlebars. The fourth is scooting with their feet (think kid's balance bike).

It was an ah-hah moment. In the same way that we do not warn children learning to add and subtract about the risks of poor budgeting, we shouldn't focus on the perceived 'dangers' of cycling.

How empowering, how delightfully straightforward: getting more people on bikes, simply by having them sit on a bike. 

If your community or organisation is looking for guidance about bicycle education, Mobycon can help. Here are some quick tips for getting started. For more information, contact me, Mary Hudson Embry in North America and in Europe Angela van der Kloof.



Mobycon | P.O. Box 2873 | 2601 CW Delft | The Netherlands | Phone: +31 15 21478 99 | E-mail: info@mobycon.com | www.mobycon.com