Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Caravane, la grande pédalée

An infallible sign that cycling is becoming mainstream in a community is when you see minority demographics (i.e. racial, age, gender or other), getting involved, being empowered and taking ownership of the cycling habit.

Instead of contributing to discrimination, racial divisions, top-down attitudes, social exclusion and racism as seems to be the case in places such as Portland, it looks like cycling is bringing all sorts of demographics to mingle in Montreal streets. Older Asian men, black women riding with children, penniless students as well as well-off business people, more and more of the folks are joining in.

A while ago, I came across an organisation dedicated to contributing to this trend: Caravane.
"Caravane’s mission is to promote cycling, not only as a viable, economical and environmentally friendly mode of transportation, but also as a tool for developing rich social and cultural networks."
There can be many obstacles to joining the bicycle culture, especially for new immigrants. At the heart of their activities is the effort to overcome these obstacles by:

  • Providing information to newcomers about the ease and security of cycling in the city
  • Helping newcomers learn to ride safely
  • Dispelling the fears that newcomers often have about cycling in the city – namely, fears about safety, operation, and connotations about social status
  • Offering a more affordable mode of transportation
  • Fostering cultural understanding and exchanges by using the bicycle as a tool to make connections with people
  • Integrating the city’s neighbourhoods
  • Bridging the isolation of newcomers to the city
  • Providing newcomers with ways to create networks
More on the organisation here.

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