Cycling courses for cleaners
8 November 2006 – Ethnic minority women
do not tend to ride bicycles, but they are eager to learn. Social
welfare in de Baarsjes wants to offer courses for employees in collaboration
with cleaning companies. In addition, more money is needed to deal
with the waiting lists.
This week, the SCP and the Fietsberaad published studies showing
that ethnic minority members are much less likely to ride bicycles
than people of Dutch origin. The car is often too expensive for
this group, which means that they depend on public transport. This
applies especially to women.
Cycling courses are highly popular, and there are waiting lists
everywhere. This applies also to the Akros social welfare organisation
in de Baarsjes, despite the relatively high price they charge. Ten
classes cost 35 euro, which is a substantial amount for people with
low incomes. “During the courses, they laugh a lot. And the
women are very proud when they get their certificate”, says
Many women have health problems, making it rather difficult for
them to learn to ride a bicycle. “I really get a kick out
of seeing them cycling through the neighbourhood going through their
daily return, after completion of the course”, Kaddoer says.
Akros is thinking about offering cycling courses to employees in
collaboration with companies. Those companies might benefit themselves:
it is financially interesting, it is good for their employees’
health and it will make it easier for them to arrive at work in
Cleaning companies are an interesting group, thinks Kaddoer. Among
the participants in the courses are regularly women who work as
cleaners. They often have to start early in the morning, when there
is no public transport yet. And they often have to work at different
Last summer, Akros organised a cycling tour in the Kennemer dunes
(photo). “This should be done more often. They learn to know
the Netherlands in a completely different way, doing this makes
them feel very Dutch”.
Recently, Akros also organised a pilot cycling course for men,
which was filled within a day. “The men are always complain
that we always do everything for the women and that there are no
activities for men”, says Kaddoer. “In fact, they have
The men were different in that they could already cycle a little,
even though they thought they were very good at it. “But in
fact it was very dangerous how they moved through traffic. Only
they refused to admit it”.
The Fietsersbond (Cyclists’ Union) has carried out a number
of pilots to stimulate bicycle use during the past six months. For
example, cycling and traffic classes have been given to school children.
This approach was very labour intensive, but did yield results.
Further, a Bicycle Friends project has been initiated. After completing
a bicycle course, the new cyclists get help from volunteers to learn
how to ride a bicycle in a large city. This also includes practical
issues such as finding your way and taking luggage on your bike.
In addition, a course for cycling teachers will be started, says
Marieke de Lange, who is responsible for the bicycle use promotion
projects at the Fietsersbond. The municipality and the districts
can also do a lot more. More money is needed for bicycle courses,
also at schools. And there is a need more coordination.
Researcher Lucas Harms of the SCP confirms that more bicycle courses
are needed. More in general, the government should better take the
different ways in which people travel into account.
“For ethnic minority members, public transportation has an
important social role, because they have no alternative modes of
transportation. This underlines the importance of good public transport
services”, Harms says.
See also: Even Fatima Elatik rides a
bicycle these days
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