Learning how to cycle in Dutch
Because it's never too late to learn how to ride a bike, because cycling is healthy, because Belgium is a country of cyclists and because there aren’t that many opportunities to practice Dutch during the holidays: that is why bon and Pro Velo organised “learn how to cycle in Dutch” this summer. An account of 12 unforgettable, intensive, educational and cosy days with 16 enthusiastic participants from all over the world: Guinea Conakry, Tibet, Pakistan, Morocco, Nepal, Peru, Cameroon, Kenya, Togo, Congo and Bulgaria.
Day 1: We meet at Pro Velo in Ixelles. The 16 participants meet the bike supervisor, Greet Van Dijck, and two volunteer supervisors from bon, Saidali Azizov and El Hadji Gueye. The next 12 days, they will initiate our participants in the wonderful world of cycling with great enthusiasm and a lot of patience. And we’re in luck with the weather: the sun is present throughout to encourage the group.
Walking our bikes, we head for the esplanade of the European Parliament. An ideal spot to practice bike balance, braking, kicking-off, … Some of the participants start out daunted: the task seems impossible. But everybody can take it at his or her own pace. Just fifteen minutes later, the first participants are already trying out their first few metres on two wheels.
After a few days everybody gets past the first crucial stage: finding your balance and riding for a few metres. Congratulations!
We move on to phase 2 and our new place to be for the next few days: the Warande Park! We practice zigzag, turning, uphill, downhill, using gears, riding in a straight line, one-hand riding and the traffic rules. Now and then, we also do some relaxation exercises. There is some serious cycling going on and the atmosphere is great!
Day 8: The time has come ... our first street ride, a careful tour around the Warande Park. Exciting and not very easy, but everyone does it beautifully and confidence is growing rapidly. Each day, the route is expanded somewhat with new challenges: roundabouts, tramlines, traffic lights, one-way streets, and so on.
Day 12: On our last day, the weather forecasts promises a very pleasant sunny day. Ideal for a bike ride through Brussels: Londonplein – Ter Kamerenbos - Londonplein. After an exciting ride along the side streets of the Avenue Louise, we arrive at the ponds of Ter Kamerenbos. An ideal location to relax, enjoy the view and to hand each participant the certificate "successfully passed the bike course”. The enthusiasm is overwhelming and Brussels has gained 16 convinced cyclists!