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How Cycling Lessons Help Refugees Find Their Footing

In Berlin, a group has made it their mission to help newcomers settle in, then get around.
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Karen Axelrad/Flickr

Among those enjoying a recent sunny Saturday in Berlin’s Gleisdreieck Park, there were kids bouncing around playgrounds, picnickers spreading out blankets, and skaters making their rounds on the park’s wide concrete paths. On the northern loop, where overhead U-bahn tracks traverse the Landwehrcanal and the diminutive “skyscrapers” of Potsdamer Platz loom in the distance, a few bike riders traveled in packs.

Pedaling along cautiously with two companions alongside them and two behind, most were young women, many in headscarves. For them, just a few of the thousands of Syrian refugees recently settled in this city of around 3.5 million, finding their feet in Berlin meant finding their balance on two wheels.