Construis ton vélo: bike culture for equal opportunity and social justice

With “Construis ton vélo”—a winning project of the 2022 cohort of the MIS Civic Incubator—Rémi Laurent and Adam Aït-Âarab of Cyclo Nord-Sud are extending the experiments of the Vélorution Saint-Michel initiative to democratize bicycle use in Montreal’s Saint-Michel neighbourhood.

How a lack of cycling infrastructure affects community resilience

Outside central neighbourhoods, as in Saint-Michel, mobility infrastructure and services for “bike culture” are often neglected, according to the project’s leaders. In the absence of public services promoting active mobility, economic and social inequalities arise, and these in turn harm community resilience. When access to civic life and cultural and leisure services are curtailed, the opportunity cost, in terms of physical health and sustainable-mobility behaviours, can be significant. If we don’t see safe infrastructure for cyclists, we avoid riding, which prevents the development of all that this activity has to offer. It’s precisely by encouraging young people to take up cycling that Cyclo Nord-Sud hopes to promote active, sustainable mobility and strengthen community resilience.

Young people as vectors of change

With “Construis ton vélo” Rémi and Adam empower young people to develop not only the technical skills involved in building a bike, but also, by enhancing their power to act, their civic skills. The project leaders believe that young people are vectors of change who can influence the behaviour of those around them—hence the importance of opening up their path to active mobility. Young people who have adopted the culture of cycling can convince their friends and family to take up the sport, and use it to overcome economic and cultural obstacles, while simultaneously advocating for improved cycling infrastructure in their communities.

Democratizing bicycle use here and elsewhere

As they joined the Civic Incubator’s 2022 cohort, the pair were hoping to structure a program that would be easily replicable in other Montreal neighbourhoods and beyond. The goal was to spread the project’s impact as widely as possible.

“Participating in the Civic Incubator at the Maison de l’innovation sociale really enabled us to refine and, above all, to work much more precisely on the issues we wanted to [focus on], as well as to identify the elements to test and implement first.” — Rémi

The Civic Incubator’s Call for Projects is Running!

Do you have an idea in mind that you haven’t dared to pitch yet? Have you recently started a project and feel like you need a hand? Does joining a community of dedicated social and environmental impact leaders appeal to you? The deadline for applications is October 29, 2023.

> Read more on the Call for projects

Read other news

Three alumni of the program look back

  • Civic incubator,
  • News,

The potential realization of a positive-impact project idea—one that has long been brewing in the back of their minds—has motivated over one hundred change-makers to join the MIS Civic Incubator.

Incubateur civique, cohorte 2022  - Ouitogether : mettre en valeur les expressions culturelles diverses à Montréal

Ouitogether : Showcasing Montréal’s d...

  • Civic incubator,
  • Cohort 2022,
  • News,

One in four Montréalers is an immigrant, according to Statistics Canada. The city is home to over 120 cultural communities from all five continents.

Incubateur civique, cohorte 2022 - Hiver en nous : créer de nouveaux récits autour de la nordicité en milieu urbain

Hiver en nous: Creating new narratives a...

  • Civic incubator,
  • Cohort 2022,
  • News,

If there’s a season that disproportionately affects Québeckers—a season with which we have an ambivalent relationship—it’s winter.