Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

01 July 2015

Bringing Bikes To Kids In The Great North

Nunavut is a region of Canada about three times the size of Texas, or about the same size as all of Western Europe.  Yet my neighborhood--Astoria, Queens, New York--has about three times as many people.

I have never been to Nunavut.  Somehow I imagine there aren't many bike shops there and that delivery even from Performance or Wiggle is slow.  Then again, from what I've read, I don't imagine very many natives of Nunavut--most of whom are Inuit, and many of whom don't speak either English or French, the two official languages of Canada--have the means of accessing bicycle retailers' websites or the money to buy a bike.

Alison Harper noticed as much. She and her husband moved to Kugluktuk, a town about 600 kilometres north of Yellowknife, the largest community in the Northwest Territories.  The kids who came into the community center in which she volunteered were fascinated by her fat-tired bike.  She decided to organize a ride with those young people, only to find that one of the boys didn't have a bike.

Alison Harper and children of Kuglutuk on their bikes. From CTV News.

She then started the Polar Bike Project to bring bikes to kids in the Great North.  She contacted a friend who owns a bike shop in Calgary, who agreed to donate bikes.  Getting them to Kugluktuk was another story.  Fortunately, Buffalo Airways in Yellowknife offered to ship them for free.

The first ten bikes arrived last month and 42 are due in the next shipment.  She hopes to bring a bike to every child in the town. So she's looking for more sources of bikes, locks helmets and monetary donations for her project.


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