CultureLink’s Bike Host Markham and Mississauga Cycles programs wrapped successful summers full of building, fixing and riding bikes in the 905!
Bike Host Markham
CultureLink’s Bike Host had the opportunity this year to partner with York Region’s first community bicycle hub: Markham Cycles. This hub aims to build cycling culture in Markham and our Bike Host’s model complements and promotes that mission.
In July, we recruited and trained six mentors, who love to cycle in Markham* (and beyond). Then we matched them with 7 newcomers to Canada, all of whom borrowed a bike, a helmet and a lock from us. Together, they set out to gain confidence on a bicycle and build friendships and community: “Cycling is a wonderful way to build a sense of belonging to and interest in a new community” (Sonya De Vellis, mentor).
Through this partnership with Markham Cycles, we were able to deliver a wide range of programming, from Learn to Ride for kids and adults, to a Student Ambassador program with students from Milliken Mills High School, as well as a number of community rides, including a group ride and picnic to Toogood Pond with over 50 participants! Through these programs, the bicycle became a vehicle for belonging: “Along with the convenience-exercise-pleasure of biking, another very important outcome [of Bike Host Markham] was to come in touch with so many awesome people” (Azfar Adib, mentee).
Two Bike Host mentees learned to ride a bicycle this summer, and have unlocked the freedom that it brings them. In addition to the joy of cycling, participants gained a broadened perspective of sharing the road, and other valuable knowledge, like how to bring a bike on the bus. Bike Host enriches the lives of both mentors and mentees, opening every one to a different point of view, beyond their mode of transportation. Thank you to Markham Cycles, we look forward to seeing the community continue to grow and flourish.
*Download Markham’s Cycling Map
Mississauga Cycles is a new project in Mississauga made possible by a partnership between CultureLink Settlement and Community Services (CultureLink) and Peel Multicultural Council (PMC). Mississauga Cycles builds on the success of other bike hubs established by CultureLink in the GTA to connect newcomers with their new community, by bike! This latest partnership is funded by the Region of Peel as part of a network of bike hubs being established throughout Peel Region.
The program has two main components:
- A cycling mentorship program for newcomers and weekly drop-in bike clinics, held at PMC. In the first year of this mentorship program, which runs from June-October, 30 newcomer participants were matched with 16 volunteer mentors who commute regularly by bike. Together, the mentors and newcomer participants explore Mississauga by bike and organize and participate in a number of group activities. Through this program, with the support from mentors, newcomer participants improved their communication skills, bike riding skills, knowledge of bike routes as well as general bike maintenance.
- Weekly drop-in sessions, which run from July onwards as a DIY Bike Hub. Based at PMC, this space is open to any program participants and youth who want to learn new bike skills, maintenance and repair in a collaborative and constructive setting. Activities include road safety and cycling skills workshops, mechanics workshops and demonstrations, donated bike repairs and participant bike tune-ups. In all aspects of Mississauga Cycles, cycling is used as a tool to foster greater education, engagement and activity in our city, and our program strives to support even more newcomers and youth in the years to come.