Netherlands a source of inspiration for active transport and refugee inclusion through cycling

03/09/2018 Laura Eylen’s Bike for Europe tour diary

Welcome to Bike for Europe North Team member Laura Eylen’s diary! Follow the tour with her behind-the-scenes highlights as the team rides from the Netherlands to Austria.

1 September

Bike for Europe starts! Here we go on our first day, ready to cycle 140km from Norg to Apeldoorn in the Netherlands. As members of the Bike for Europe tour’s North Team we were invited to participate in the opening of the “Battle of Norg”, a famous 80-100km mountain biking race in the Drenthe region of the Netherlands.

Here some of our teammates were interviewed by RTV Drenthe and the whole Bike for Europe team was introduced on the stage before the race. With the sound of the pistol, the start was announced and we left the field with smiles and ‘bye bye’ screams coming from the crowd of people who gathered to see the start.

We were followed by the groups of local cyclists until the Drenthe border. I met a woman who was from one of the groups which came with us to Drenthe border. I was so surprised that in her 70s she is the leader of a cyclist club and she is so active in cycling! She told me about her husband who is 74 and still participates in running marathons! I could see all this energy coming from her smiling face.

After Drenthe border we were left on our own. The green forests and landscapes on the road lulled me with their beauty. It was so exciting to follow the roads winding through fields, farms and rivers.

We arrived in Apeldoorn – as planned – after 140km and a lunch with 12 cyclists Team Drenthe in Dwingaloo, Michael Brennan from UCI Cycling for All and Dominik Sandler from ISCA, who followed us on our exciting first leg of the tour.

September 2

After one night in Apeldoorn we headed to Arnhem. Here we met beautiful people who create projects and work for a better life through cycling, including Angela van der Kloof, Sustainable Mobility Consultant from Mobycon. (pictured). She organised our visit to Mama Agatha in Arnhem and included several people from the Municipality of Arnhem and the Province of Gelderland. They actually have a strategy plan to increase cycling in their communities from 26% to 35% by 2030.

We gathered in cosy Gelderland Fietslab, located on the upper floor of the bicycle parking place. We were surprised how practical the bicycle parking is. It was explained to us that people can use this parking spot with the same card they use for the train. It is secure and can fit many bicycles together.

There we met Mama Agatha, who teaches refugees how to cycle. We watched a video about her lectures with women. It was so nice to have a talk with all of these people who are so active in cycling promotion. After the meeting we cycled to s’Hertogenbosch to stay for the night. We cycled through RijnWaalpad bicycle road which was so amazing! This road was built on the initiative of the people we met today in Arnhem.

So inspiring!

Pictured above: Laura Eylen is introduced to 1600 cyclists in the Battle of Norg before the start of the Bike for Europe tour, visiting the Mama Agatha programme in Arnhem which teaches refugee women how to cycle.