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Mobility starts in school

Anne-Françoise Jans doesn’t look like your ordinary headmistress. Wearing sports pants and a pink flashy jacket, she opens the door and welcomes us with a smile. “I am sorry, I didn’t have time to change since this morning”. When it’s sunny outside, this dynamic mother of four rides her bicycle from Rixensart to Ixelles.

It takes her 45 minutes on an electric bicycle she later puts away in her office. Her electric bicycle is big enough to host a second classic bicycle. “I use it for my meetings in Brussels in the evening or when I go to the theatre. I then leave my car at school and I cycle around in the city centre. I avoid traffic jams and parking problems”.

The headmistress chose this means of transport two years ago after spending her summer pedaling away. The start of school seemed easier as she continued to use her bicycle for her morning exercise. As a sporty individual, Anne-Françoise still decided to use an electric bicycle. “In terms of speed, there is no comparison. I save time. I love coming to work by bicycle. My work is stressful so I must solve numerous problems on a daily basis. On my way back home, I release this tension”.

Teachers are leading the way

Anne-Françoise has passed on her passion to her colleagues. Some fifteen teachers now cycle each morning to work at the Saint-André school. “We are setting the example”. One of the teachers even followed a training session called “Mobility Manager” at Bruxelles Mobilité. As a result: one of the rooms is now used as a garage and there are showers and closets for the teachers’ belongings. Bicycle racks are also available for students in front of the school. In the hallway, each student has indicated how they travel to school (whether by foot, by bike, with public transport or by car). “There are still too many red dots, says Anne-Françoise. Some live just next door but still come with the car”.

The Saint-André school encourages educational projects related to sustainable development. The former French teacher wishes to make it a major concern for the younger generations. In Rixensart, she is a municipal councillor who is very active in terms of mobility. “I lost one of my children in a car accident at 23. So naturally I am very security-sensitive and want each and every one of us, whether on our bicycles, in our cars or on foot, to be able to move around safely”. This lengthy construction project will begin in her primary school.

An article from Flavie Gauthier

Photos by Jonathan Borms