People are talking about CommuVélo!
Le vélo : au-delà du transport, by Alexandra Bahary, interview published in Graphite Publications (in French)
somewhere on rue Saint-Denis in Montreal,
CommuVélo has been in existence for a little over a month now and we’re growing faster than a human child! To give you a visual, we’re more like a bambi: no sooner conceived and delivered into the world, than here we are determinedly attempting to stand by our goals.
Since the epic idea was hatched in the heart of the BQAM workshop (Chapter 1), many things have happened. First of all, if you’ve been living in a pothole on the Renée-Levesque or Ontario bike path and haven’t been able to follow the developments, know that we have shaken the Facebook servers by launching our page. The response has been incredible (we are super happy that you are following us, et if you aren’t yet don’t worry – it’s completely normal to feel a littele guilty … simply click the link to get on board!)
In order to reach our goal of gathering, repairing and offering at no cost 50 bikes, complete with pannier bags and locks, to refugees in the Greater Montreal Region, we have been active on all fronts, launching our website, receiving our first funding (thank-you to our partners!) and our first PayPal donations. Above all, we have gathered numerous donations of bikes and bike parts (thank-you to everyone, and to our partners). We have also begun to establish partnerships with bike stores (one in particular for now) and with the organization Cyclo Nord-Sud in order to ensure a sustainable supply of parts and bikes in good shape.
The bike-hunt having begun in earnest, we soon had to find a space – and quickly! – in order to store our first bikes (yay! We have a home!). However… our space is on the 3rd floor (yes yes! You read that correctly!) and is quite modest in size… We are still actively looking for a more spacious and well-situated local – ideally near to BQAM (intersection Saint-Urbain / Sherbrooke) – in order to facilitate our activities. Transporting the bikes up and down a spiral staircase for each session of mechanics… ouf! I leave it up to your imagination. Another little glitch – we had to have the keys copied 5 *?%?@!%$?&& times, the doubles refusing to fit the lock the first 4 times. The physical donations to be picked up becoming more and more numerous and frequent, we had to resort to vehicles kindly lent to us by Dominique, Karl, the GRIP and Le Petit Vélo Rouge – sometimes we can be stubborn…
We also organized the process of repairing the bikes, putting together a complete set of guidelines to be followed for each bike to ensure the quality of the repairs. We have held several group repair sessions (we really have 50 functional bikes coming up!). And speaking of mechanics, please feel free to contact us if you’d like to do some bike-building!
And all of this (which we consider to be not only lots of things but lots of very positive things) was made possible because three new enthusiastic eco-coordinators have joined CommuVélo (Inès, Anis and Benjamin). Together we are confident that our initial objective of 50 bikes will soon be but a landmark far behind us (already we have gathered nearly 50 bike frames and have refurbished about a dozen!), and once that time comes, we will plunge forth toward greater objectives.
Throughout this entire process, we have realised that CommuVélo was much more than a movement to offer bikes to people in refugee situation. In fact, CommuVélo provides an opportunity for people who believe in human equality to connect with each other. And that connection is more powerful than 50 bikes.