When Jerrick Barroso was six years old and newly arrived in Canada with his family from the Philippines, he explored his new environs on his bike.
Now, he’s helping other newcomers do the same, as a bike mentor.
An initiative of HUB Cycling, the newcomer bike mentorship program pairs local cyclists with recent immigrants and refugees for companionship and an orientation to Metro Vancouver’s active transportation network.
It’s also a great way to learn about the nooks and crannies of a community at a more absorbent pace, Barroso said.
“You’re not moving as fast. You get to different places that a car can’t get to,” he said. “You have more time to take things in.”
Last summer, Barroso was paired with Razieh, a young woman newly arrived in Coquitlam from Iran. Once a week from June to September, they went on evening rides around town, exploring designated bike routes and trails, popping into parks and cafés.
On weekends, they’d travel further afield.
Barroso showed Razieh how to link different modes of transportation, taking their bikes onto SkyTrain to travel into Vancouver and then ride out to Spanish Banks using designated trails.
Once, they rode over the Port Mann Bridge to Surrey, an experience that enthralled his protégé.
“Just being able to ride over a structure like that was pretty unique,” Barroso said. “The views are pretty incredible.”
With Barroso’s guidance, Razieh also learned how she could get from her home in Coquitlam to her job in Burnaby by bike, using the flattest route possible.
He said the experience was enlightening for him as well.
Barroso said it was exciting to see Razieh’s self-confidence on her bike grow as they pushed the limits of their excursions.
“I know she had a lot of doubt at the beginning about her capabilities,” he said. “After our first ride she wanted to do more and go for longer. She surprised me many times.”
Barroso also got to see his community through fresh eyes all over again, with all the wonderment and joy of new discoveries that can bring.
Riding with a newbie cyclist challenged him to reevaluate his own riding choices as he sought out safe routes that would be comfortable for his companion.
“I learned cycling with Razieh, you see how great we have it here as far as facilities and roads for cyclists,” Barroso said. “Riding with her made me realize how lucky and fortunate we are.”
• HUB Cycling is looking for new bike mentors in the Tri-Cities area. To learn more and sign up, go to the organization’s website.