Integration through biking


Legendary Member
Wow... if that woman's former friends and family back in Iraq could see her now.

But would they see her cycling as a sign of success or failure?


But would they see her cycling as a sign of success or failure?
They would, in all probability, see her as been shameless. Spreading her legs in the public like this.

These attitudes prevail amongst pockets of the Asian community, who've been in the UK for decades, so I can't imagine they would be more enlightened in native countries of the ME or South Asia.

Still, I take hope from local women cycling groups such as 'Hop On' and 'Onna a Bike', who do fantastic work in teaching women and children from predominantly Asian neighbourhoods to ride bicycles and change perceptions.


Legendary Member
I've told this story a couple of times and it's not about refugees but the son of my Pakistan agent who was at Bangor Uni and who phoned me to ask my advice as he and three buddies were thinking of buying a BMW 3 series for £500 so they wouldn't have to walk to college. Firstly I told him the car is cheap for a reason; it would be a pile of garbage and would cripple them with the running and maintenence costs.

Secondly I mentioned the small question of insurance. There was a puzzled silence so I went on to explain the consequences of being caught without insurance or worse, injuring somebody else while uninsured. He hadn't realised you need insurance in the UK and was amazed to hear that for four overseas students it would cost thousands. So in a slightly mischievous way I suggested he would do better buying a bicycle to ride to college and back. There was a palpable shocked intake of breath at the other end of the line. Out of the question!

Thinking about it afterwards I imagined the reaction of his friends and family back home on hearing that after making it as far as the UK all he had been able to afford was a bicycle, the poor man's mode of transport at home.
New country, new mores.
When my uncles' family touched shore in the States, his Father told everyone-
"It may be hard, but we are all going to speak English from here on. No more German. We had to leave Germany behind, so leave it behind."
Similar to my Ma's family experience, although in Peoria, the concentration of German speakers was greater, I can recall people from where she worked during and after The War still speaking German in the 1960's. We have a large Indian population in the city here, mostly from Mumbai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad, and only the men ride bicycles, what few who do. Most just ride a bus, so I want to encourage that, as I drive the selfsame bus.
N Somerset
A New Zealand charity has found a new way to help women refugees to integrate, through biking,
BBC News - Freedom through bike lessons for NZ refugees
We have the amazing Bristol Bike Project here. From their website:

"Welcome to The Bristol Bike Project,a member-led co-operative repairing and rehoming bicycles within our community.

We aim to help people from all walks of life get out on two wheels and for it to be an inclusive and empowering experience."

In the UK cycling can be seen to be elitist, you have to have the time and money to be able to cycle which often isn't possible if timer/money strapped and living a long way from work due to housing costs, working long hours in several jobs often, and inadequate infrastructure for utility/commuting cycling as opposed to leisure cycling.
It's even more expensive to own and support a car. Many people in the States who cannot afford a car, or cannot have a license, use bicycles to commute to and from work. Others do it for health. But a lot of larger cities have co-ops, where you can buy a used bike cheap, and get it fixed cheaply as well.
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