Bicycling is a recreational sporting activity. Amid the pandemic, the two-wheeled activity has become the trend with women leading in the peloton. Cycling helps women in Tunisia overcome gender norms and attain great mobility.
Cycling academy, the game-changer
Tunisian Cycle revolution set up the bicycle academy two years ago. Velorution is an activist group in France, born in the 1970s. It aims to promote urban transport through cycling and change people’s relationships with their neighborhoods.
They have managed to train 700 cyclists, out of which 97% are women. Their training session provides room for intermingling between women aged 15 to 70. They have an adequate opportunity to fulfill their childhood dream. Following the corona outbreak, many people have come out to learn how to cycle as the roads are no longer filled with cars. The academy has doubled its training session to meet the demands of the surging number of beginner cyclists.
Stephanie, the cofounder of cycle Velorution says their clients have doubled since the pandemic. She describes the increase as a symbol of autonomy, a way for women to take control of their life.
Dozens of beginner cyclists fill the Japanese garden in the country every Sunday morning ready to train. The majority of these learners are adults,80% being women who passed the cycling stage during their childhood. The cycling academy is a great opportunity for everyone interested in learning how to ride in the country.
During training hours, the cyclists are usually dressed in sneakers and tracksuits. While experienced riders cycle even on busy roads, beginners only ride around the park. The latter is a safe environment, which secures the novice cyclists from accidents.
Change influences gender norms
Due to the changing times, society is permitting some activities for both males and females. Initially, many communities prohibited females from cycling, as they assumed it was a thing for the boys. However, because of transition, females are now becoming cyclists.
Samia, a 40-year-old lady, is excited to undo the burden of failing to ride a bicycle during her childhood.
” I came to free myself from the burden of never having learned to ride a bicycle,” said Samia,40, who is proud to have mastered cycling after her second training session.
“We didn’t learn as girls; it wasn’t the one thing in our culture. This patriarchal view of our society meant that only boys could thankfully, things are changing now,” she said, promising to teach her children to ride.
Can cycling serve as an alternative form of transport?
Aida, a 61-year-old retired teacher, has embarked on cycling. She is excited that she knows how to apply breaks and is determined to start cycling in the streets. Meanwhile, a 24-year-old can commute using her bicycle to her internship. Although when she tried cycling as a child, her mother discouraged her that she would get hurt. However, she says wearing her helmet and cycling gives her a feeling of freedom.
” I feel happy. Sometimes I feel I am flying like a bird.”
However, she feels motorists should respect cyclists, especially in busy highways.