Hearing this news was a special moment. In the Netherlands we take it for granted that everyone can cycle. However, some people who move here are not used to bikes. It helps migrants settle into their new home if they have an easy way of getting around! With a little effort, I tried to inspire people to help them establish their own cycling lessons. I planted a seed and left it to the volunteers to grow the initiative in their own way; that’s how I like to do things.
This spark also fueled another fire. For many years I organized cycling lessons at the Centre for Foreign Women in Tilburg. As part of this I began to hold an inspiration day intended for everyone in the Netherlands involved in cycle tuition. Back in 2009 was the last time I held this event, which provided around 100 people a space to share experiences, ideas and knowledge. By getting people in the same room we could talk through issues we have all encountered: how to teach people traffic rules when you don’t share a common language, in what way can we shape lessons for the needs of the participants?
It’s almost 9 years since this event and much has changed. Unfortunately, there has been a sharp decline in the number of lessons since government cuts in 2010. Despite the general decline, a few new initiatives have emerged. A response which has been prompted by the large numbers of refugees who have arrived in the Netherlands and major cycling events such as The Tour De France Utrecht and the Giro d’Italia that has inspired local governments to leave a ‘legacy’. Getting more people cycling is part of this plan!
Progress is also being made on a national level. In the Bicycle Agenda 2017-2020 of the Tour de Force, stimulating cycling is one of the eight spearhead ideas. Of the target groups mentioned in are adults with a migrant background.
These recent developments have inspired me. I aim to organize a new style of national inspiration day. One where I don’t just share my knowledge and experience, but where others have the opportunity to share their stories. Hopefully, with this relatively small effort, I can inspire and support people, helping them on their way.