Presenting in Stockholm on Cycling for Women and Ethnic Groups
Angela van der Kloof Mobycon’s resident expert in cycle training and education, was in Stockholm last week discussing gender equality and engaging women and refugees in cycling.
She helped conduct a workshop on cycling education for adults (immigrants and refugees) at Cykelframjandet, at Färgfabriken in Stockholm, where there was an exhibition on urban development. The overall theme of the conference was bringing cycling culture back to Sweden.
Sweden currently has an immigrant population well over 10%, with the large majority of them coming from non-western backgrounds. This is also one of the backgrounds which has been documented to cycle the least, so outreach programs could have a major impact. Besides contributing to car congestion and environmental concerns, not knowing how to cycle in a cycle friendly country could create a great divide in opportunities and quality of life. The skill could also assist in integration, reduce isolation and provide an inexpensive form of mobility to get to and from work.
Angela showed the Mama Agatha documentary, which demonstrated the empowerment given to refugees through a cycle training program for immigrant women in Amsterdam. Mama Agatha was a phenomenal force in her creation of the cycle program and Angela assisted her in developing the process and training. Creating a positive and safe group atmosphere was one of the key elements of their approach. Together they figured out a program which demonstrated not only the skill and how biking was a pleasurable vehicle to get them around, but how the women could use this skill to enhance their daily lives. Creating a comfort zone and group bond was achieved by training in a woman friendly environment, and allowing them to help and support each other as they individually progressed. The group of women in the documentary continue to attract a waiting list of participants to the wildly successful program. The success was shared to create awareness and knowledge for those working on similar projects. The program is unique in that it offers a gateway to cycling for refugees by filling a gap in the system which cycling unions don’t normally provide – a link - a partnership between communities and ethnic groups of adults who don’t know how to cycle and may already have trouble navigating the system.
Angela also gave a lecture in Haninge at the Kulturhus for an ongoing program on gender and cycling, as a representative of the Dutch Cycling Embassy. Globally, women make up a much smaller percentage of cyclists. For example, PeopleForBikes reported that in Calgary statistics show women only make 25% of cycle trips and in the US 24% of trips. Factors that influence this include: fashionable cycling, what is considered masculine and feminine, roles in society and how choice of transport and trip chaining can vary by gender. In the EU, 45-55% of women have experienced sexual harassment since the age of 15, so personal safety is a key element to reinforce.
Some figures from the Netherlands which Angela wrote about in the book ‘Cycling Cultures’ were presented. This continued her discussion on how training immigrant women in the Netherlands was a successful way to help overcome the gender gap in cycling.
Angela is always interested in helping cities think about cycling education in a strategic way in their policies and supporting them in meeting their cycle training needs. For further information on this or train the bicycle trainer programs feel free to contact her at Mobycon’s head office in Delft, The Netherlands; Angela van der Kloof, +31 15 214 78 99.