Imagine waiting for a bus or street car for over 15 minutes, especially when you ought to be at some place in a rush! Now translate this into waiting for a minimum of a couple of hours, when you know you got to be at work, or at home to take care of you kin, or your kids coming home from school etc.
In order to commute easily, all that one needs is a decent working bicycle that does not pollute, promotes health and would be environmentally friendly. To quote Michael Volpe, who once wrote in the Globe & Mail, 'you will notice and enjoy the surroundings much more closely than with a cab or car and subway. Besides it is not only, invigorating and healthy, but one feels attached to the surroundings of one's own surroundings much more intimately. However, if such a bicycle is beyond one's economic reach, it would not help the grassroots people.
BCB members came up with the idea of collecting unused bicycles from the waste stream in Canada that are repairable and shipping them as donations to the Cuban people. But at the same time, we are concerned that such an endeavor should not be creating a dependency. Thus the Bicycles Crossing Borders - Bicicletas Cruzando Fronteras was created as a "Sustainable Project".
The BCB has set up a modern bicycle shop that would repair and refurbish used bicycles from Canada and sell them to the Cuban public at an affordable price, which can be possibly paid in installments. The bicycles will be repaired in Cuba. To achieve this goal, BCB has sent high quality tools, new and good used parts, as well as used and new bicycles, parts (several hundred boxes), wheels etc.
At the same time, BCB took on the task of training local technicians to achieve the highest level of skills to be able to repair any type of bicycle. In doing so, we kept equity in mind and have trained apt 25 people during the last year, majority of whom being women. Thus we can proudly say that the BCB has the best bicycle mechanics in Cuba today.
To accomplish good quality training of local women and men, BCB would not want to compromise on anything. Trainers were chosen from among the best candidates that applied from across Canada and the U.S. Our first trainer was Mr. Jaime Rosenbluth with extensive experience in the field and a bicycle shop owner himself for over 14 years in Montreal. Then later we sent down Mr. Greg Furlong, an engineer and a former owner of Bikes on Wheels a popular bike shop in the Kensington Market of Toronto.
The BCB is comprised of mainly volunteers in Toronto, managing the project with minimal expenses here. Most of our expenses are towards the operation and support of the project in Cuba. We try to do as much publicity as possible for the project in Canada and collect bicycles as well as expanding the network. Fortunately we have access to part of an old warehouse in Toronto, where we can collect bicycles and parts before we ship them to Cuba. However, collection of bicycles and shipping alone can take a tremendous amount of our effort and financial expenses.
BCB is also constantly building the volunteer network and strengthening our contacts to all the interested groups and parties.
At present we are in the process of incorporating the organization and applying for charitable status. However, we are working with Development Education Centre (DEC) of Toronto to be able to issue tax receipts for all our donors.
The project needs donations of money, bicycles, parts and tools as well as transportation support. We could use some free rental trucks once a month. To donate any of these things and for more information please contact:
Bicycles Crossing Borders
685 Queen St. West (2nd floor)
Toronto, ON. M6J 1E6
E-mail: BikesXingBorders@netscape.net bcb@BikesToCuba.org Tel: 416-364 5329