PEDAL PUSHERS: Turning the wheels of integration



Susan Misicka, Zollikofen
JUL 3, 2017 – 11:00
bicycle lesson
Learning to ride a bike in a fun and safe environment in Bern, Switzerland(Susan Misicka /

As easy as riding a bike? Not if you never learned how. A Swiss non-profit group offers cycling lessons especially for women from other countries.

“I rode a little bit as a child but that was it. In Iran, women aren’t allowed to ride bikes on public roads,” says Fatemeh Vafaei. Now a mother herself, she’s grateful for the chance to learn how to get around on two wheels again. Her Iranian husband, here to support her on a sunny afternoon in suburban Bern, nods in approval.

Woman with bike
Fatemeh Vafaei: “In Iran, women aren’t allowed to ride bikes on public roads.”(Susan Misicka /

Vafaei is one of nearly 20 women taking advantage of a six-day course offered by theSwiss Bicycle Advocacy Associationexternal link, Pro Veloexternal link. It’s geared especially towards migrants, including many who’ve never been on a bicycle at all.

This particular courseexternal link – six two-hour lessons over a period of three weeks – takes place on the property of a school in Zollikofen near Bern. Volunteers help participants navigate the traffic models outlined in chalk and traffic cones.

Despite the adage, it turns out that it’s not quite “as easy as riding a bike”.


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