By Almo Mzian
When I first arrived in Hamilton, like any newcomer to Canada, I immediately started taking short trips to get to know my new city, this city whose residents are distinguished by kindness. At first, I did not notice beautiful blue bikes in the town even though I passed them every day. However, after I had an unfortunate accident involving a bicycle, I became more careful, looking at the bikes around me. One of the things that most caught my eye was watching Mary Anne Peters, the LINC program coordinator, arrive at her office at Mohawk College every winter morning on her bike despite the snowfall and temperatures dropping below zero. Also, I have followed my best friends Stephen and Morgan Crewson on the Strava App as they have gone on rides of 100 km, and this has made me pay attention to cycling.Left image: Mary Anne Peters on her bicycle on a winter day. Right image: photo collage with images of the Crewson family wearing helmets, a bike in the middle of the road, and a cyclist enjoying the view at Niagara Falls.
Although I do not have my own bicycle, Hamilton city has a good bike-share program with 900 bikes. Its goal is to ease gridlock, improve air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Membership in this program will help us as newcomers to find new ways to explore the city while staying close to home. It is such an easy, convenient way to get around downtown Hamilton without ever having to worry about bike theft or repair.
How does the bike-share program work? The first step is opening an account, choosing a plan, and receiving your membership card by mail. The second step is swiping your member card and entering your PIN code onto the unit on the back of a bike to unlock a bike. Third, ride the bike anywhere within the service area. Finally, when you end your trip, lock your bike to a rack in any hub. If anyone wants to learn more about membership options, payment plans or if you have a few questions, you can visit and read more about it on hamiltonbikeshare.ca
Left and right images: bike stations in downtown Hamilton and other areas of the city.
In addition, Hamilton offers a great program called the Everyone Rides Initiative ERI which makes Hamilton Bike Share fairer and more accessible. You can start riding with the Pedal Pass program, which costs $3 for three months. I personally recommend this program for newcomers. For more information you can visit everyonerides.org
Photo collage with images of a bike station, Hamilton Bike Share member card, and a bike share board with a map.
Did you know?
Riding a bike instead of driving is better for our environment, wallet, and health. According to the Hamilton Bike Share website, "in May 2020, Hamilton public bike share had over 26000 members. Riders have travelled over 2.3 million kilometers. They have reduced 1000 tons of carbon emissions, saved 1.3 million dollars and burned 91 million calories (about 7280000 minutes (about 14 years) of running)". Try biking to work, biking to school, biking for your errands, or simply taking a short ride at lunch to grab a quick bite. Make your heart rate fast at least once a day. Your body will thank you, and you definitely will feel better.
Also, since I am new to cycling in Hamilton, I love using a bike as part of my daily routine. I use it to get groceries, reduce my stress, and go to the train station. The bike-share programs offer me bike mobility 24/7. I like the freedom to cycle any time and get some fresh air, and it is a pretty sweet part of my day. I love exploring new roads and seeing new faces, and I am constantly recommending that the best way to discover what this city has to offer is on a bike.
Almo Mzian is from Damascus, Syria. He is a man who seeks adventure and freedom, and sees beauty in simple moments of life. He loves skydiving and scuba diving. He is currently a student in the LINC program at Mohawk College, Hamilton. He says: “I might not be where I want to be yet, but I get closer every day."
Newcomer Voices is a space for students in the Programs for Newcomers Department to express their ideas, culture and experiences in Canada. Learn how Mohawk College supports newcomers through free English classes, work-related courses and more.