COLIN R. SINGER IMMIGRATION.CA
Montreal Bike Program Aids Immigrant Integration
A local bike program is helping Montreal immigrants to improve their cycling skills while helping them fit into their new surroundings.
“Biking is a way to communicate, be with others, and have a sense of participating in the movement of your city,” says Caravane program founder Papa Amadou Touré, who immigrated to Montreal from Senegal seven years ago. “It’s a way for cultures to meet. Quebec defines itself by its passion for bicycling. People who come here should join in. I want to break their isolation.”
Touré got the idea after he started working as a bike courier shortly after his arrival in Montreal. He noticed that immigrant-heavy neighbourhoods seemed to be lacking in cyclists, and that the populated bike paths in other areas of the city were lacking in diversity.
The more he talked to immigrants, the more Touré realized that many of them had, in fact, rode bikes back home when they were younger. But, in many countries as a person matures they feel pressured to give up the bike and obtain a car which carries more status. In Canada, and particularly in Montreal, the attitude is much different and most immigrants feel that.
“When I asked people [here] why they didn’t bike, they said they didn’t know how,” Touré says. “I could see on their faces that they were shy about it. They were almost ashamed.”
He founded Caravane and has since helped over 500 foreign and native-born Quebeckers to learn to ride and fix bikes.
Source: Globe and Mail