HUB Cycling helps newcomers discover their new home by bike

November 28, 2016

For many newcomers arriving to a new city can be overwhelming. With housing and employment top of mind, it may be a few months before a newcomer considers starting to ride a bike in their new home. Yet cycling is a valuable activity for newcomers, not only for their health and wellness, but also as a tool to feel more connected to their community and meet other people. For many, cycling is also the most cost effective transportation solution available when arriving in a new place.

This year, HUB engaged in a project to increase urban cycling knowledge across immigrant serving agencies. “We wanted to provide settlement staff with the first-hand skills and knowledge needed to feel confident promoting cycling as an attractive option to their clients”, says Alyshia Burak, HUB Cycling’s Bike Education Program Manager.

Over 35 settlement staff took part in focus groups and on-bike cycling skills courses to explore newcomers’ perspectives, and gain confidence as riders themselves. Using the information learnt through these experiences, HUB developed the Newcomers’ Guide to City Cycling in Vancouver - a basic introduction to getting riding in a new city. The guide, which is highly visual and accessible to speakers of all levels of English, is now being integrated into settlement information packages at community groups around Metro Vancouver.  

This year, over 175 newcomers grew their skills and confidence riding bikes with the support of HUB’s skilled instructors. Thanks to a partnership with UBC Kinesiology students, we were able to capture the stories and experiences of some of these participants’ whose first language is not English.

"I had just moved to Canada and had no experience and knowledge about cycling and the rules here and I wanted to take my four-year-old daughter on daily bike rides, so I thought it was a great idea to join the HUB Cycling program. The HUB Cycling program was very interesting and beneficial. I think it is a great program for newcomers as it provides one with the opportunity to learn how to ride a bike and  the rules and regulations of cycling in Canada and build the courage to get out and ride in a new country and environment." – Newcomer

HUB Cycling’s work was also well-received by the settlement staff, with one participant saying: “The impact of the workshop was not just limited to biking, but it actually made the new families at home and empowered.  For a family it was an opportunity to relax and enjoy the parks in the neighbourhood house and get to know other newcomers.

HUB Cycling would like to thank the Vancouver Foundation’s Greenest City Grant, Translink and the many municipalities of Metro Vancouver for their tremendous support in making this project possible. Download a copy of the Newcomers Guide to City Cycling in Vancouver here.