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Build 2000


Bicycle Collection Drive A Success

Many used bicycles saw the light of day for the first time in a while on April 9, as they were donated to the Cycle North-South bicycle collection drive organized by Trent University students Virginia Portmann and Marielle Weeks.

The collection drive, which took place at Peter Gzowski College at Argyle Street, was a success. The 52 bicycles collected, with little resale value, likely would have ended up in a garbage dump. Instead, they will go to families in countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, Burkina Faso and Peru. Millions of people in southern countries have no means of transportation other than their two feet. Now these old bicycles will become a tool to overcome poverty.

"The possibilities (for the bicycles) are endless - doctors can do rounds on bicycles in remote villages, children can go to school, women have an easier time getting food and water, and the distance a worker can travel to go to work is increased," says Ms. Portmann, who says she always wanted to do a bicycle collection drive.

She read about Pedals for Progress in a mountain biking magazine from the U.S. and later learned that Cycle North-South is the Canadian counterpart in Quebec. Being a Trent students, Ms. Portmann says, inspired her to "stop making excuses" and start acting.

"Marielle Weeks was the perfect partner in crime, because she is an environmental student and loves this 'green' idea," says Ms. Portmann. "I am more interested in the humanity aspect as a nursing student. Improving socioeconomic conditions is the single largest determinant of health. This drive is a great way of combining both interests."

Through Cycle North-South's efforts, more than 10,000 Québec bicycles have found a new 20-year lease on life in countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, Nicaragua, South Africa, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Bolivia and Peru.

Cycle North-South is a joint initiative of two groups: Le Monde Bicyclette, a non-profit organization founded in 1975, which promotes bicycling as a means or urban transport, with all the environmental, urban planning, economic, health, safety, efficiency and conviviality that implies; and of la Societe d'education pour le cyclisme a Montreal, a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1988. Cycle North-South's Honorary President is Dr. David Suzuki.

For more information, visit www.cam/org/~cyclons

Posted April 12, 2005

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