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Learning to Ride a Bike Isn't Child's Play: Montreuil, F...

Learning to Ride a Bike Isn't Child's Play: Montreuil, France's Six-Level Bike School

Is there a perfect age for learning to ride a bike? Not necessarily. Because not everyone learns to ride a bike at the same time, there are now numerous bike schools where one can learn to sit atop a two-wheeler with the help of specialized teachers. This is precisely the case with the bike school

Is there a perfect age for learning to ride a bike? Not necessarily. Because not everyone learns to ride a bike at the same time, there are now numerous bike schools where one can learn to sit atop a two-wheeler with the help of specialized teachers. This is precisely the case with the bike school in Montreuil, France. The school is “a pioneering organization, entirely run by volunteers” that allows everyone, but above all, adults, to familiarize themselves with the practice of riding a bike in the urban environment.

Place Jacques Duclos in Montreuil, France, buildings in background with multiple lanes of cars in foreground

In existence for twelve years, Montreuil’s bike school has helped more than 2,000 students learn to become real, tough cyclists. This is thanks to using simple, yet effective methods that allow novice cyclists to gradually get used to riding a bike, all while surrounded by teachers that help them throughout the learning process.

Using specially adapted bikes, the students at Montreuil’s bike school are able to easily find their balance. Without being held up by teachers and without the help of training wheels, students can stabilize themselves quickly. This step thus comes easily to everyone, in contrast with getting off the bike - a much more delicate skill that the students often have difficulty mastering.

The teachers at Montreuil’s bike school must therefore teach students how and when to dismount their bikes in order to avoid mishaps. They teach them to get off when it is necessary to stop, or, simply, “when a dangerous or uncertain situation presents itself.”

The students advance through six different levels:

  • Level 1: The students find their balance on the bikes;
  • Level 2: They learn to get started pedaling, to stop, and to get off the seat;
  • Level 3: They learn to control their trajectory, change speeds, and relax their hands;
  • Level 4: They begin to learn how to start pedaling from the side, more complex trajectories, changing speeds, and to ride with no hands;
  • Level 5: This is when students perfect getting started from the side on steeper slopes, add in the skill of riding slowly and making 180 turns, learn to go down hills of varying steepness at highly reduced speeds while standing on one pedal as well as two pedals;
  • Level 6: The students practice riding in the street in a group and start to take longer rides in this protected environment.

Biking School in France uses Obstacles to Teach Dexterity. Biker in green outfit with helmet attempts to weave in between pegs

The main goal of Montreuil’s bike school is to “teach students to be as dexterous as possible on their bikes.” For their security, the security of others, and to take advantage of the pleasures of riding a bike (whether it be as a hobby, a means of transportation, or something else), cyclists and future cyclists of any age can count on the help of Montreuil’s bike school. Then they can go out and soak up all of the advantages cycling has to offer.

How can cycling be made more accessible to everyone, regardless of age or financial status? 

Original article, originally published in French, here.

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

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Katelyn Hewett recently graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in English and French. During her time at St. Olaf, she enjoyed playing the French Horn in the St. Olaf Band, working as a teaching assistant for first-year...

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