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

Read other news

Our best wishes for 2024

  • News,

“As we begin this New Year, I would like to wish our entire community hope and dialogue.

Unveiling of the Civic Incubator’s 202...

  • Civic incubator,
  • Cohort 2024,
  • News,

The Civic Incubator of the Maison de l’innovation sociale (MIS) welcomes its new cohort of 20 projects with social and environmental impact

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.