The role of the bicycle in the integration and settlement of refugees in the Netherlands; an analysis of the bicycle's status and its potential role in helping refugee integration and settlement in the Netherlands
Despite the vast research conducted on the issue of immigrants and refugee integration and settlement, speaking the local language and knowing the rules and values of the new host society seems to always be at the forefront of what it means to be integrated into new host societies. Though these are important indicators of integration, there are indeed many other important things that contribute to one’s feeling of being integrated. This research study looked at the transportation and mobility aspect of helping with integration and settlement. Some research has been conducted by mobility and transportation experts on bicycles and cycling in the Netherlands and around the world as a form of daily transportation and commuting, however not enough research has focused on the social and cultural integration qualities and effects of transportation(bicycles) amongst refugees and immigrant communities who mostly come from non-cycling backgrounds and the role they can play in helping them in their integration and settlement process once they arrive in their host country. In order to expand and understand the role of the bicycle, this study focused on the new communities of refugees of the Netherlands. It assessed the role and status of bicycles within these new refugee communities in the Netherlands and what role the bicycle played in helping the refugee’ integration since their arrival in the Netherlands. The study participants included a number of refugees living in the city of Nijmegen and some refugees participating in a project called Unity in Diversity in The Hague, which focused on organizing and setting-up projects that support and promote the socio-cultural integration of refugees. The study utilized Qualitative research methods, whereby 11 in-depth semi-structured interviews and two focus groups were conducted with refugee respondents and experts in the cycling industry, also conducted was detailed literature review on cycling within the Dutch and immigrant society living in the Netherlands. Base on the finding, this study concluded that bicycles do play a role in helping refugees and immigrant with integration process. It found that, before the refugees had a bicycle, they found themselves limited in places they could go to and see, they felt trapped and hard to leave their campsites as they happened to be located on the outskirts of the city. However once they learned to cycle and bought a bicycle, they were free and able to go everywhere they wanted, without having to worry about money or walking long distance. Also for most of the refugees, they felt their bicycles were essential part of their integration process. This was because most places they frequented were schools, where they learned Dutch and organizations that were helping them with their integration processes. Also they were now able to meet and visit friend a lot more easier than they did before they got a bicycle. In conclusion, with the right perspective, context and implementation, this study found that bicycle do play a role in helping refugee settlement and integration.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen