Pedal Power

By Huot, Christian | Canadian Dimension, January 2001 | Go to article overview

Pedal Power


Huot, Christian, Canadian Dimension


In the cavernous church basement in Montreal's east plateau, bikes are carefully piled up in every direction that meets the eye. In this dim and oddly medieval-looking den, Claire Morissette, founder of the new organization Cyclo Nord Sud (Cyclo North South) is glowing as she talks about her new project. Last October, she sent her first shipment of nearly 500 bicycles to the Federacion de Mujeres de Cuba (Women's Federation of Cuba). Soon after, 500 more bikes were leaving for Cuernavaca, Mexico. Collected from the innumerable bikes gathering dust in garages of the Montreal region, and then swiftly fixed up, they are prepared for a new career in the South, where they can be used as tools for a convivial and ecological development. "Our old bikes can easily see their lives extended by about 30 years in the South," Morissette says.

At a time when Indonesia and China, these bastions of cycling, ban human-powered two- and three-wheelers to clear the way for the progress of automobilization, this idea is going against the current. But Morissette never lets that get in her way. Essentially, the activist is simply taking her fight South. Over the past 25 years, the Montreal bicycle pasionnaria has coordinated the anti-car movement alongside local legend "Bicycle Bob" Silverman, the poet/activist who coined the word "velorution" (velo means bike). With him, she launched "Le Monde bicyclette" -- another play on words meaning either people on bikes or the World on a bike. Specializing in spectacular and colourful actions, they worked for and won practically everything that counts in Montreal in terms of bicycle infrastructure and events. And these are relatively abundant. A few years ago, after all, Montreal was voted the best cycling city in North America by Bicycle Magazine.

Morissette, who also set up Communauto, the first car-sharing service in the country, then decided to pursue an old dream and become involved in international work. She says that "very few development organizations address transportation issues. They don't understand it very much. Yet, the bike is a simple and efficient solution, perfectly adapted to the Third World. In these countries, the car is a complete disaster!"

Disaster in the South

Cyclists and drivers, indeed, are waging a tough battle for the streets of the Third World. Although the South's car fleet is still miniscule compared with the North's, it is growing at twice the rate. Consequently, cars are insidiously invading traditional bicycle grounds. In Indonesia, becaks taxis are being outlawed and tossed into the ocean. In China, where until recently the sound of traffic consisted mostly of the tinkle of bells, people are striving for the signs of prosperity and the city streets are filling up with the roar of motor vehicles. Beijing now has nearly a million motor vehicles and authorities are issuing new driving licenses by the tens of thousands every year. Meanwhile, the Worldwatch Institute points out that if the Chinese adopted the driving habits of North Americans, global greenhouse-gas emissions from the transportation sector would double.

Recently a group of prominent Chinese scientists courageously challenged the central government's plan to develop a car-centered transportation system. They said that the country simply did not have enough space both to feed its people and to build the network of roads, parking spaces and highways that such a system would demand. Already, the government of China estimates that 200,000 hectares of arable land disappear under urban development each year. But the trend is continuing unabated, not only in China but also in most of the Third World. And already, traffic jams in numerous cities such as Taipei, Bangkok, Mexico City and Delhi far exceed anything seen in the North.

One of the results of this increased driving is that the air pollution in large Third World cities is often atrocious. In Delhi, for instance, it is estimated that two-thirds of children have harmful levels of lead in their blood. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Pedal Power
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.