CultureLink Settlement Services has a long history of co-ordinating mentorship programs that match newcomers with Canadian hosts to promote integration into Canadian life and in 2011 decided to add a fun twist with the introduction of bicycles. Bike Host provides bikes to newcomer participants who don’t have one and provides plenty of opportunities to make friends, build networks, learn about and explore the city, all while spending time outdoors.
Over a four-month period, Bike Host participants can attend free workshops about cycling in Toronto, road safety rules, cycling skills and bike maintenance. Mentors lead small group rides around the city, introducing newcomers to areas that are safe to cycle. Rides along bike paths, such as Lakeshore and the Humber River connect newcomers to nature in the city, while rides to Queen’s Park and City Hall provide an opportunity for a brief lesson in city history and politics.