Bike Host

The CultureLink Bike Host program matches up newcomers who are open to cycling with mentors who ride regularly. In large and small group activities, Bike Host participants practice their communication skills and learn about civic engagement, all while exploring Toronto by bike. These participants tell us how Bike Host helped them feel great and get to know Toronto.

CultureLink Bike Host sites, 2018

Click the map above to see the neighbourhoods which Bike Host is serving this season along with our valued partners, the Scarborough Cycles Bike Hubs at AccessPoint on Danforth and Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre, and Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre through our relationship with South Riverdale Community Health Centre.

Newcomer participants, please visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/BikeHost2018Registration to register. More information follows below under “Join as a newcomer participant”.

If you are interested in volunteering as a Bike Host mentor, please review the “Become a Bike Host Mentor” section below.

Bike Host Program Benefits

As reported by participants in the 2016 program, the top three benefits of participating in Bike Host are fun, health and exercise, and getting to know new people. 86% of participants agreed that the program improved their cycling skills and knowledge; by the end of the program participants reported that 31% of their daily trips were made by bike, on average! Not surprisingly, 75% of participants reported saving money on transit fares. 92% would recommend the program to friends or family. View the details in this Report, prepared by Trudy Ledsham and Emma Heffernan of the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank. For photography and stories by 2016 participants, check out our annual publication, Bike Host 2016.

Become a Bike Host Mentor

Bike Host mentors are interesting and outgoing Toronto residents from all walks of life. They have strong communication skills and a genuine desire to create a more welcoming community. They must ride regularly and be reasonably confident on city streets. Mentors are required to be at least 19 years of age. Expected volunteer commitment is approximately 35 hours between June and October. Responsibilities include regular communication with newcomer participants and CultureLink staff, planning activities with 2-4 newcomer participants at mutually agreeable times, participating in monthly large group activities, and supporting the development of cycling skills and confidence.

Additional criteria, skills and requirements for being a successful Bike Host mentor:

  • Must attend mentors’ orientation(s) and matching session
  • Must provide two references (non-family)
  • Must provide a police clearance letter (reimbursement available once accepted into the program; a valid police clearance letter acquired for other jobs/volunteer positions is acceptable)
  • Should have knowledge of Toronto’s local culture/neighbourhoods, and free events and activities
  • Capability to help newcomers practise English and learn new skills in project management/event planning is an asset
  • Small-group facilitation experience and ability to engage participants of varying skills and language levels is an asset
  • Experience working with newcomers or diverse clients is an asset
  • Mentor orientation and training for 2018 begins in early June. Register now to learn of all upcoming dates.

If you have any questions, contact Bike Host: bikehost@culturelink.ca.

Join as a newcomer participant

Bike Host newcomer participants are from around the world and have typically lived in Canada anywhere from a few months to 3 years (but there is no maximum to participate). They know how to ride a bicycle, and will be able to borrow a Bike Host bicycle for the summer if they don’t have a bicycle of their own.

Through the program, newcomer participants will gain confidence riding in the city, enjoy fun and healthy outdoor activities, meet people, and gain meaningful Canadian experience. The program falls within CultureLink’s civic engagement mentorship category, as a New Canadian Experience initiative that provides newcomers with volunteer experience, which counts as bona fide work experience.

Requirements to register as a Bike Host newcomer participant include the following:

  • Must be a Convention refugee or permanent resident (documents required)
  • Must be 19 years or older
  • Can commit to 30 volunteer hours
  • Speak English (LINC 4 or above)
  • Know how to ride a bicycle
  • Pass a group interview

The 2018 program begins in June. Newcomer participants, please visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/BikeHost2018Registration to register.

If you have any questions, contact Rubeen Chauhan, Mentorship Program Worker: rchauhan@culturelink.ca or 416-588-6288 x231.

Bike Host is affiliated with CultureLink’s Community Connections Mentorship Program, funded by Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees Canada.

In 2018, it is offered in collaboration with Access Alliance, Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre, South Riverdale Community Health Centre, and Scarborough Cycles.

Scarborough Cycles is a project funded by the Metcalf Foundation and led by the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, a project of Clean Air Partnership, with partners Cycle Toronto, the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank, and CultureLink.