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A Different Route to Integration

 

Cycle Lessons in Utrecht.

· Output,social environment,experience

By: Oliver Blake

With the abundant excitement about cycling in the Netherlands, it is often forgotten that cycling is a skill that must be learned, practised and perfected, and that not everyone who lives in the Netherlands can ride a bike. Those who have grown up in an environment where cycling is normalised and safe might find the idea that some people do not know how to cycle – or are afraid to try cycling on the roads – rather strange. But this is a reality for many people who come to live in the Netherlands.

This article examines the case of 50 women who took part in formal cycling lessons in the Dutch city of Utrecht. It documents the transformative effects of learning to cycle, as the students gained the agency to travel further, faster and on their own terms. Most of the students who attended the lessons grew up in countries outside of the West, making the lessons sites to investigate not only the Netherlands as a cycling nation but also the country's relationship to race, gender and religion. This research culminates with the notion of cycling lessons as an alternate route for integration into Dutch society.

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