Archives for posts with tag: cycling

This post originally appeared on the Charlie’s Freewheels blog


Research by the Toronto Cycling Think & Do Tank has taught us that bike campaigns aren’t enough to increase cycling in Toronto. While education does the work of inspiration, a number of barriers continue to stop people from actually getting on their bikes.

Barriers can be a lot of things. Would you ride your bike to a party if all your friends were driving there? If you couldn’t afford to buy a bike and maintain it? If you were scared of biking on busy city streets, even if there were bike lanes?

Identifying barriers and helping people overcome them is essential to building a strong and safe bike culture.

Students often start our program saying they’re afraid to ride their bikes through the city. Having to negotiate speeding cars, huge trucks and street car tracks is enough to make a reasonable person choose another way to get around.

Despite evidence that shows biking to be as safe, if not safer than driving, fear can be so strong that it triumphs over the benefits of biking.

While fear of biking mostly comes from experience, it is also exaggerated by the “prevalence of cycle and road safety training courses that focus excessively on cycling’s risks”, finds the Toronto Cycling Think & Do Tank. The language of our current regime of road safety courses contributes to fear as a real emotional barrier to cycling.

Charlie’s Build-a-Bike program includes road safety courses that use positive language to teach safety skills. And with group rides that encourage a supportive and fun cycling culture, we are helping them overcome their fear of riding by actively harbouring a love of cycling.

In fact, despite initial fear of cycling, we’ve seen a 70% rate of ‘regular bike usage’ (5-7 times per week) by program graduates, 6 months after completion of the program!

From the hundreds of students that have completed our Build-A-Bike program, we’ve learnt that a cycling culture of love – not fear – is essential for increasing biking in Toronto.

This post originally appeared on the Charlie’s Freewheels blog


Immigration is a big part of life here, where half of all Torontonians were born somewhere else! Many of us, our parents or our friends have personally experienced what it means to overhaul your life and settle down in a new place.

What lots of people have noticed is that newcomers are particularly open to adopting new behaviour. Which makes sense: getting to a new country, we are eager to take up new customs, and it’s easier to get over old habits.

That’s why it’s so important to encourage new immigrants to Toronto to cycle. If we can show newcomers that cycling is affordable, healthy and convenient, they’ll more readily use a bike to get around. And they’ll become part of the ever growing contingent of Toronto cyclists, pushing the benefits of cycling to society at large and enabling more infrastructure that will make biking even more viable and safe.

But with the image of what it means to successfully integrate, a lot of new immigrants have expectations of getting a car when they come to Canada, even if they come from a place where cycling is an everyday way to get around. According to the Toronto Cycling Think & Do Tank, many new immigrants consider bicycles a “second class” mode of transportation, chosen out of necessity rather than desire.

It seems our trusty bicycle has an image problem. But we can get over it!

CANADA-BIKELots of organizations are working to connect new immigrants to bicycles. Since 2009, CultureLinkand Cycle Toronto have collaborated to offer Bike Host, a program that has been giving bike tours of the city, mentorships and road safety courses to newcomers. Once a participant has gone through the program, they then mentor the next group of newcomers the following summer.

Charlie’s serves youth from Regent and Moss Parks, the neighbourhoods that have some of the highest concentrations of immigrants in the country. Recognizing that newcomers are especially suitable cyclists, our programs normalize cycling as a viable way to get from A to B in Canada, and the most affordable, convenient and healthy transportation option.


We like the way Caravane, an immigrant-cycling organization in Montreal puts it. Bicycling is a way of participating in a culture, and when you participate, you integrate.

So let’s keep supporting newcomers with bikes!

This post originally appeared on the Pop-Up City

Yesterday we celebrated our fifth birthday with The Pop-Up City Live, an experimental event for urban innovators at De Brakke Grond in Amsterdam. During the fantastically diverse evening, we were inspired by the Mobiators‘ sustainable nomadism, energized by the spirit of Amsterdam’s community blogs, and mesmerized by psychogeographic tours of Venice and Skopje, along with delicious urban foraged-treats from Lynn Shore and Eleftheria Rozi, and funky tunes from the Deer Friends.

We also watched Sander Vandenbroucke’s fantastic film Brussels Express, a short documentary that explores the trials and tribulations experienced by the first bike messengers in Brussels, Europe’s most car-congested city. With colourful racing caps, stylish shoulder bags and speedy road bikes, Karl-Heinz Pohl and Karel Rowies of Pedal BXL aren’t just passionate about their innovative Brussels business: they are dedicated bicycle advocates in Brussels, a city overrun by cars and frozen in gridlock.

Brussels Express

Brussels Express

Brussels Express features amazing scenes of the city, as cyclists dodge the hostile car traffic and congestion. Watching the film, we learnt just how effective cycling is in a city overrun by cars, as bikes slice right through the gridlock, leaving the standing-cars in a cloud of dust. Pedal BXL can make a delivery within 15 minutes as opposed to the 2 hour norm, and is gaining popularity as the most superior delivery method in the city.

Brussels Express

Brussels Express

Brussels Express is a fast moving and engaging documentary with ultimately hopeful undertones: 10 years ago, nobody was cycling in Brussels, but biking is slowly gaining popularity. Local heroes in helmets and fluorescent vests are beginning to reject car culture, and are starting a bicycle revolution. And with a cameo from former Mayor of Copenhagen Klaus Bondam arguing that Belgians have to take a stand for greater mobility, we can tell this short documentary is a genuine and serious about its appeal for a better Brussels by bike.

We really enjoyed watching Brussels Express last night at The Pop-Up City Live — but don’t worry if you couldn’t make it to the event! You can watch the full documentary online. Enjoy!