Cycling School Leuven wants to offer adults the chance of taking bicycle lessons. For most of us, cycling is something we learned in our childhood years. Some people, however, never had the opportunity of learning how to cycle.
The past few years, both the integration services in Leuven and Mobiel 21 were frequently contacted by people who wanted to take cycling lessons. All kinds of people were interested in perfecting their cycling skills; immigrants, senior citizens, foreign exchange students... The cycling school offers those people a short term course to learn and improve cycling skills, to ride in traffic and in a crowdy city full of other bike users. They also learn how to maintain their precious bike and how to use on a daily base for commuting. Last but not least we try to connect people on bikes by bringing together a new cyclist and an experienced cyclist. Not only to improve their new cycling skills but also to create a process of integration and socialisation as we usually reach newcomers. They cycle under the name Cycling Friends.
Bike School Leuven is an initiative to promote adults who never learned how to ride a bike or people who forgot how to cycle. It is an initiative of Mobiel 21 in collaboration with the integration service of Leuven and has several other partners involved as the university, social-economy business on bike repair, language institutions, etc. Bike School Leuven was started 4 years ago and has built a solid program which annually reaches 100 adults learning how to ride bikes. In addition, we have also the downstream stage Cycling Friends for people who want to improve tehir skills or who just want to have an nice time with other people on bikes. Most cycling initiatives for adults such as in Leuven, are linked to an integration story, but not only that is our cocern. It is the whole package. Where cycling might be a solution in poverty, health, acces to work. We believe that having the skills and having access to a bike might be a solution for emancipation, happiness, health and chances in society.
The cycling school of Leuven is providing 5 courses of 16 lessons, on a two times a week base. Each lesson takes two hours. Each course is focussing on improving cycling skills, riding bikes in traffic, maintainance of the bike, traffic rules for cyclists,... Annually we reach each year around 20 people who are interested in learning how to ride a bike. Around 150 actually take part and 95 people complete the course.
Bikes, helmets and assurance are provided by the cyling school. There is a team of 4 teachers assisted by volunteers. Volunteers are important to work more individually and towards different stages of progress. A cycling lesson costs 20 euro.
We usually reach young mothers (>95%) between 23 and 42 years old. Most of them are immigrated. Last year we had reached people of 33 different countries. Their motivation for riding a bike is mostly children, but also work related matters, but suprisingly also our cycling culture makes them to ride bikes.
Without obligations people take part at Cycling Friends. We don't reach as much people (20-25) as the cylcing lessons, but the ones who do take part enjoy recreative cycling trips, getting to know Leuven and its surroundings but also new friendships and vice versa. Also our volunteers have a feeling of great satisfaction. They can see a progress with results, getting to know new people and other civilizations.