The first project of its kind in Vancouver, the ISSofBC and Hub Cycling Newcomer Bike Host program, helps newcomers get oriented to Vancouver’s cycling routes, rules, and culture while having fun exploring the city by bike.
Newcomers receive cycling education at the start of the program to learn basic rules of the road, traffic safety and practical experience cycling with trained instructors. Then they are matched with local volunteers to go on weekly outings. Over the course of three months, matches choose what activities and cycling trips they want to take part in based on the newcomers’ interests and goals.
“Settling in a new city can be an overwhelming experience,” said HUB Cycling’s Bike Education Manager, Alyshia Burak. “By building cycling knowledge and skills, newcomers are introduced to an affordable, healthy and convenient way to explore their new home and build connections.”
The program celebrated the success of its first summer in operations last night during an outdoor picnic at John Hendry (Trout Lake) Park with participants sharing their pedal adventures.
Zohreh, a recent immigrant from Iran, said meeting her goal of cycling from her home to language classes at ISSofBC Welcome Centre was a prized achievement.
“I cycled in Iran, but women can bicycle only in women’s only parks.”
With the support of volunteers Berni and Lucy who have been meeting weekly with Zohreh since April to help build her skills and confidence, Zoreh managed to cycle a little bit further each week, until she made the trip up to ISSofBC.
“My self-confidence goes up,” said Zoreh, adding, “I thought I could not go up the Cambie Bridge, but now I know I can. I have learned to go through traffic and also not to fall.”
The Bike Host program, which is funded by the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City Fund and TransLink, is running two three-month sessions for its first year, and is expected to reach over 40 newcomers and involve over 30 volunteers.
In the News
August 6 – New Canadians learn to cycle the city in Vancouver bike host program – CBC News
August 7 – Newcomers jump into cycling culture with bike orientation program – Vancouver Metro
August 13 – The success of a Vancouver program that familiarizes new Canadians with city by bike – Canadian Cycling Magazine