This is the first time she comes to class with her bike, which her friends gave her in 2018. As the storm rages over Rennes, Alma focuses on maneuvering her bike well to slalom between the studs fitted to the pedestrian promenade. The 25-year-old young Iranian is one of the adults taking lessons at Roazhon Mobility, the only cycling school in the Breton capital. “I grew up in the megalopolis of Tehran. It’s not really a city where you learn to ride a bike,” laughs the young woman with a smile that makes her eyes squint in yellow and blue makeup. Her ambition is to be able to drive alone in Rennes, without fear. “I looked at the travel times by bicycle compared to public transport. It can save me a lot of time sometimes. And then I’m independent. For several weeks now she has been following the advice of Thierry, one of the founders of the school. “I have friends who often go cycling. One day they went as far as Mont Saint-Michel. I am excluded from these trips. There is a form of social pressure,” Alma laments.
The young Iranian is not alone in this case. By his side, K. tries to learn to ride a bicycle again, more than twenty years after he abandoned the bicycle, blamed for an accident with a car. “I was not seriously injured, but it did traumatize me. Last summer she was going to take a long bike ride with friends to an island off the Atlantic coast. “We always say you can’t lose a bike, so I took the plunge. But I couldn’t make three meters. I knew how to pedal, but I didn’t feel comfortable at all.” Behind her, El Haddi dismounts. From the height of his 62 years, he admits that he was “afraid of falling” when he started cycling. So he set his saddle quite low, to gain confidence. “Knowing how to ride a bike is a childhood dream for me. There is such a sense of silence, it is beautiful. My goal is to be able to take a walk myself soon. †
Contrary to popular belief, cycling isn’t innate, especially if you didn’t grow up in France. “More than 80% of our students are of foreign origin. And 98% are women. As if men are ashamed to say they can’t ride a bike,” said Sébastien His, the founder of Roazhon Mobility, who has just inaugurated his new premises in the former Petite Rennes headquarters, rue de Chicogné. .
“It’s not just about knowing how to kick”
In order to listen to him, an important work must nevertheless be done to “educate” France about the practice of cycling. “It’s not just about knowing how to pedal. That, everyone acquires it pretty quickly. But stretching your arm, looking around you, looking back, braking properly or knowing how to use your derailleur, many people can’t do that. “He who supervises more than a thousand students every year makes a startling observation: “Of a class of 25 children in CM1 or CM2, only four or five can actually cycle. While the number of accidents involving two-wheelers is increasing, the chairman of Roazhon Mobility is tempering. “It doesn’t surprise me, because more and more people are riding bicycles and that’s good. Motorists have to adapt to it, but so do cyclists, especially now that the Covid has accelerated the phenomenon. It’s like putting everyone in a car without making sure they have a driver’s license. †
This Saturday, his school is organizing a free ride in Rennes as part of the Bike Festival. The opportunity for Roazhon Mobility to show itself but also to remind everyone that the Road Traffic Act applies to everyone. At his school, Sébastien His teaches safety and courtesy. “When I see them burning the fires, I get angry! This is dangerous for them, but also for other users. †