According to a study done by YouGov in 2015, learning to ride a bike including a Dutch style bike, mountain, road etc. is a foreign subject to 13% of adults (ages 18-34) in America. These people do not know how to ride a bicycle! I know hard to believe. Until about three years ago, I was one of those adults.
The Dutch, on the other hand, literally grow up on these things.
Learning to ride a bike
My first bike ride was taken at age 22, not like the picture below where the child is already starting to get the feel for it. As a child, I was very fearful and learning to ride a bike always scared me. Once I reached teenage years, I was too embarrassed of not knowing to learn. Then, on one fateful day that three years ago, a friend said it was time, and I agreed. Luckily it was a Dutch bike I was learning on.
Like anything else we learn, certain parts are harder than others. First off, I felt that I was extremely high off the ground when mounting the bike. I couldn't seem to convince myself that I should immediately start moving once I was upright. At that point, I would successfully mount the bike from a curb, cycle slowly for about four feet, then put my feet down. I later learned that I wasn't traveling quickly enough to keep the bike upright.
Secondly, turning seemed to be a HUGE issue for me. Once I was able to go in a straight line, I enjoyed the feeling of moving that quickly in the open wind (and I could see why people liked riding bicycles)! The feeling was exhilarating and like nothing I had done before. I had mixed feelings-guilt for depriving myself of that fun for so many years and pure happiness for accomplishing something I feared. Unfortunately, the fear won over after my failed attempts at turning and I did not mount a bike again for another few years. Learning to ride a bike did not again happen, but I didn't give up.
My first bike rides were all taken in Tulsa, OK. This is not a city that is very bicycle or pedestrian friendly. There aren't a lot of sidewalks and hardly any bike trails. Last year, at age 24, I moved to Los Angeles and was amazed by all the bicycle traffic!(especially CicLAvia) I felt that it was time to get back on the saddle (literally).
My inexperience on a bicycle had me really afraid of riding among car traffic in Los Angeles. Luckily, Los Angeles has plenty of bicycle trails and areas far away from large vehicles-vehicles that would be hard to keep away from if a person did not know how to effectively turn on a bicycle. Here's a list of the 19 Best Los Angeles Bike Rides to give you an idea.
The first bicycle I fully rode, including turning and stopping, was a Peace Bicycles Dreamer step through bike in black. The height of the bike was great for me (I'm 5'6") and didn't make me feel like I was miles above the earth when riding it. I also really liked that the position of the handlebars in relation to the saddle made me sit upright so I could clearly see and feel safe while riding.
Luckily, my boyfriend is one of those people I envy, a person who seems to have grown up riding a bicycle, who can ride with no hands and look in directions other than forward when riding. (Okay, that may not have seemed impressive to a seasoned rider, but to me, that seemed impossible!) We started riding in neighborhoods. He rode in front of me while looking backwards and I followed him at a safe distance. Slowly but surely, I got the hang of turning. For some reason, at this point in my bicycling journey, I was having trouble with stopping correctly. I instinctively wanted to put my feet down to stop, but didn't realize that the bicycle really couldn't be still moving for that to work effectively. So I worked on stopping correctly as well. Riding through the trees in beautiful California neighborhoods really exited me. I felt like I was finally getting to experience an activity that so many people enjoy.
My boyfriend and I have taken to making dates of riding our bicycles (we both have Peace Dreamers). I am getting better each time at riding and we are seeing so many fun sites in Los Angeles this way! I will update as we go!