Cyclo Nord-Sud celebrates its 20 years!
In 20 years, it’s over 71 000 bikes that have been brought back to life. They have started their second courses among lower income populations through our projects, helping us achieve our social, environmental and solidary missions both internationally and locally. It is indisputable that transportation is a serious issue all around the globe. Cyclo Nord-Sud wishes to keep sensitizing and enabling people to enhance their quality of life and share the freedom bicycles grant to as many as possible.
Reminiscing on the Links of Cyclo Nord-Sud’s History
The Dawn of Cyclo Nord-Sud: Le Monde à Bicyclette
Can you envision Montreal without any bicycle arrangements? In the 70’s, this was the harsh reality. Le Monde à Bicyclette was initiated in this environment by notably Robert Silverman, Vicki Schmolka and Jacques Desjardins. Claire Morissette quickly joined the group to defend the benefits of urban cycling. Great coordinator, she rises as one of the prominent leader of MAB.
Mixing humor and grandiloquence, these charming bike activists organized a poetic velorution marked by theatrical representations (e.g. cyclodramas called “Die-in”), creative protests (e.g. the “manif spatiale” in which bikes were equipped with frames the dimension of cars) and direct actions like the creation of clandestine bike paths during the night.
MAB was born in reponse to Montreal’s reality but its international ties multiplied during its existence: correspondences, conferences, study trips,… The group saw itself as part of a bigger, nationwide battle. In Claire Morissette’s mind, this sparked the idea of solidarity between the North and the South. In 1988, MAB contemplated a project that was soon to become Cyclo Nord-Sud… To be continued!
To learn more on Le Monde à Bicyclette visit Encore Du Monde À Bicyclette, a committee of Cyclo Nord-Sud leading the project of processing MAB’s archives!
Claire Morissette, environmentalist, cyclo-revolutionary and founder of Cyclo Nord-Sud
Fervent activist fighting against cyclo frustration, Claire quickly joined Le Monde à Bicyclette and rose to be an important leader of the movement.
In 1994, she wrote “Deux roues, un avenir” (Two wheels one future), an ode to bicycles to sensitize, equip and share with everyone the freedom granted by urban cycling. She believed in courteous mobility where biking, walking, carsharing and public transports work in unison. It is in this context that she cocreated Communauto in 1994 and launched Cyclo Nord-Sud in 1999.
To honor her dedication and engagement in Montreal’s transformation, the city inaugurated in 2007, right after her death, the Claire Morissette bike path that spans across the city. It is the only bike path that has a name in Montreal.
Cyclo Nord-Sud still pursues to this day the missions established by this great activist and hopes to make her proud with every action implemented.
Collecting Bikes: Where the Solidarity Chain Was Born
Collecting used bikes is part of Cyclo Nord-Sud’s essence. The first collect took place in Montreal in 1999, marking the birth of the organization and the start of an exceptional adventure! Each year, around 30 bike drives are organized by volunteers all around the province, allowing us to collect close to 4 000 bikes a year!
During the spring and fall, these meetings allow citizens to donate their bike following a rough winter, a desire for renewal or a coming winter. The bike and $20 donation go together to allow the organization to self-finance and repair the bicycles. In exchange, the donors receive a tax receipt combining the values of the bike and donation. Bicycles are then compacted (handlebar turned 90 degrees and pedals removed) and loaded onto our special Cyclo Nord-Sud truck to then find a place in our warehouse, awaiting their new lives.
What if you too organized a bike drive in your company, school or group of friends? Dont hesitate to become a Link!
Containers: Bikes Headed to New Beginnings
In the past, Cyclo Nord-Sud essentially collected bikes exclusively to be distributed internationally, in order to promote cycling as an ecological, economical and active mean of transportation. Bikes were headed to different countries where transportation was a major issue, and it all started in 2000 with the very first container floating towards Cuba!
Today we are able to fill from 6 to 8 containers a year! When one of our partner expresses the need for a new shipment starts a true bike adventure! From the top of the warehouse hills to the corridor leading to the container, bikes are passed from hand to hand before starting their journey on the ocean. Depending on the bikes’ sizes, it is approximately 400 bikes stacked on 3 levels that fit in a container. Our record : 507 to Nicaragua in 2002!
The loading day is partly exhausting but mostly a rewarding moment shared between employees and volunteers. These bikes are headed to their new beginnings overseas among populations in need through partnerships that truly change lives.
The next container to sail will be loaded in August and headed to Cuba.
Volunteers: the Heart of Cyclo Nord-Sud
Volunteers at Cyclo Nord-Sud are an integrant part of the solidarity chain. It is even a group of volunteers that started the projects 20 years ago! Today, more than 800 volunteers all across Quebec help us realize our mission through our projects.
Being on the board of directors, organizing bike drives, loading containers, sorting parts, assisting the activities of AVSM, translating documents, helping with everything website and database related, training children through the “Cycliste averti” program, participating in events… our volunteers seem to be able to tackle every task! In addition, based in Quebec and Gatineau respectively, two active committees contribute greatly to our mission by widening the territory our organization covers, allowing us to collect bikes from farther regions.
Since 2004, the Claire Morissette award thanks volunteers for their involvement. Who will be next? to be followed later this year…
1 Link + 1 Link + Links = Cyclo Nord-Sud Solidarity Chain
For a non-profit organization, funding will forever remain the biggest struggle. Over 53% of our mission is funded through our Links!. These generous donors help make Cyclo Nord-Sud’s solidarity chain stronger and longer, allowing us to always ride further and further. By becoming a Link, you grant Cyclo the chance to keep sensitizing, equiping and enhancing living conditions of people all over the world.
A $30 donation allows us to tune up the bike for a Saint-Michel resident! For $70 we can bring a bike back to life! $100 and you got 8 people learning the basics of bike mechanic! To thank your generosity, we give back a tax receipt for the value of the donation. You too can join the Links of our solidarity chain and become the one pushing Cyclo Nord-Sud further! Give here!
Moving: Cyclo’s Eternal Quest for Storage
Since 1999, Cyclo Nord-Sud keeps growing and growing!
The project started in the basement of St Pierre Claver Church. Pioneer in bike recycling, the space quickly became way too small to hold all the used bikes.
In 2002, Cyclo Nord-Sud moved to Saint-Urbain street in Villeray. The entrance shined under the colorful mural made in honor of the organization.
We kept aiming bigger in 2014! And so we moved to our current location on the 8th avenue in Saint-Michel. The borough of Villeray-Saint-Michel-Parc-Extension witnessed the growth of Cyclo Nord-Sud and still holds our roots to this day. This is the reason why the organization developped its first local project here: Velorution Saint-Michel. Were you aware of that? Keep following us and you will know more soon…
Because we always try to make donating bikes easier to people all over the province, CNS extended its reach far past Montreal. Since 2015 and 2016, 2 volunteer committees are managing our warehouses in Quebec and Gatineau.
63 000 Bike Stories Around the Planet
It is over 63 000 bikes thats have been sent by Cyclo Nord-Sud in 22 countries of Africa and Latin America to feed our partner’s projects. These bikes are the realization of our mission to promote cycling as an active, ecological, economical and empowering alternative to traditional means of transportation.
With upwards of 10 660 bikes, Nicaragua still is the country that received the most to this day, closely followed by the Togo’s 9 320 bikes. In third position is El Salvador, 8324 bikes, then Haïti with 7631, Ghana, 6991, and Cuba with 5006. Projects and partnerships change upon the partners’ needs and available funding.
A bike can support more than 10 times its weight and be used by many different people, allowing for much easier travels: visit the market, sell products, access health services and go to school! Bike mechanic workshops also help prevent school drop-outs in addition to creating jobs. Even when the bikes cannot roll anymore parts can be reused to build many different tools: water pumps, washing machines, winches, fans, sharpening and grinding mills… Creativity is the only limit at this point!
Explore the testimonies of beneficiaries, volunteers and partners by listening to our Bike Stories, realized by @Mikael Theimer.