Refugee dads learn to cycle safe

Article image - Refugee dads learn to cycle safe Mr Kasim (right) with a friend at the bicycle workshop.

Newcastle City Council has teamed up with Catholic Care and a support agency to teach recently arrived refugees how to cycle safely in Australia.

Seven refugee dads laughed their way through Council’s Cycle Skills Workshops for beginners at New Lambton recently, after Catholic Care committed to getting the men and their families on two wheels.

With help from Dan ‘The Bike Man’ Endicott at the University of Newcastle’s Bike Love Corral, around 35 refugees will receive bicycles and council’s help through training to ensure they understand Australian road rules.

“We are delighted to help these families get up to speed on cycling in Australia,” said Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes.

“Cycleways and cycling education are among our top priorities as a council and the City of Newcastle is a refugee welcome zone, so what a great combination to teach these families how to get out and explore our beautiful city in a safe fashion.”   

Through support agency Navitas’s interpreter, Ash Naddaf, Syrian father-of-five Mahmood Kasim said he’s looking forward to taking his kids out to explore Newcastle on two wheels and using pedal power to beat the traffic.

“The workshop is so wonderful and I thank everyone for helping us,” Kasim said.

“I look forward to riding with my children in the park and riding around the city because sometimes cycling is faster with the traffic.”
Bike and Fitness Training’s husband and wife team, Damien and Jenny Enderby, run Council’s workshop and volunteered to train the men’s kids after putting the dads through their paces at New Lambton Netball courts this morning.

“We just went through braking and cornering, riding in traffic, through to signage and changing gears and basic maintenance,” said Mr Enderby.

“We have done two or three programs at Islington Public School and the kids just love it, so we look forward to teaching these men’s kids, too.”

Catholic Care project officer, John Sandy, a former refugee from Sierra Leone, said the skills workshop was so important because cycling was subject to fewer road rules in many of the countries from which refugees come.

“The road rules are very safe here,” he said.
“I know from my personal experience that people are often in accidents and hospitalised, but in Australia it’s very safe and that’s why this workshop is so important. First the men will learn how to ride safely, then their kids will do the course.”

Newcastle City Council runs free cycle skills and bike maintenance workshops for the general public and was approached by Catholic Care to help refugees hone their skills.