A cycling club called “Özgür Pedallar Bisiklet Kulubü,” which can be translated as “Free Pedals Biking Club,” established by a schoolteacher has imparted cycling lessons to nearly 3,000 students in three years, according to daily Hürriyet.
“We aim to raise a happy generation through our cycling club,” said 43-year-old Savaş Öztorun, the founder of the club.
Working as a primary school teacher for the last 21 years, Öztorun started cycling 10 years ago on the streets of Istanbul.
His love for cycling grew gradually, so much so that he started riding his bike to work, to shop, and even spent many summers in European countries while cycling on streets, enjoying nature to the fullest.
It was in 2018 when he first thought of establishing a cycling club. At the time, he was working in a public school in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş district and seeing his students’ excitement for his bike encouraged him to open a club for them.
“During break times, kids used to come to me and ask me questions about my bike, and that gave me the idea to open a cycling club,” Öztorun said.
He imparted safe bike riding lessons to 450 children at the school that year and later established “Free Pedals Biking Club” with a slogan, “Life is not boring, you just do not have a bike.”
In 2019, he got appointed to another public school in Istanbul’s Fatih district where he continued to give biking lessons to school children.
“I am a teacher, an educator. While we prepare the kids for the future, we should not only run after academic successes but also should focus on raising happy children,” he added.
Noting that the club has more than 2,700 members, he said that cycling lessons had to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We could give biking lessons to children from only seven public schools in Fatih before the pandemic. We had plans to increase the number, but the pandemic hit,” he noted.
When asked how trainings were given to students, he said, “We have 50 bicycles donated by some bicycle enthusiasts.”
The club’s cycling training program includes six hours of theoretical training for every student, after which they are taken to playgrounds to practice safe cycling, the club officials said.
Hurriyet Daily News