The Future is Women
The Future is Women, on Bikes, Competition Entry for Public Space Incubator, Park People, Short-Listed, 2018. In partnership with Toronto architect and public artist Paul Raff, the TD Centre of Learning (Regent Park), the Regent Park Catering Collective, Culture Link Bike Host, Charlie's Free Wheels. Recognizing that women are underrepresented on urban bike lanes, the proposal seeks to train women and their children in Regent Park on how to bicycle, how to ride on urban bike lanes, and how to do basic bike repairs. Using brightly coloured reflectors, the nearly invisible bike lanes on Shuter Street are clearly animated, allowing cyclists to travel safely from Regent Park to the vast parks in Corktown Common.
The colours represent cultural diversity and the flags of the homelands of Regent Park residents. Approximately three reflector pads would be placed every metre, with the pattern varying like a musical rhythm along the bike path. The path of colour would run from the Regent Park Community Centre along Shuter Street to the underutilized Sumach-Shuter Parkette, where bike teaching, bike maintenance and bike safety would be taught twice a week by Bike Host and Charlie’s Free Wheels. Healthy snacks home baked by the Regent Park Catering Collective would be provided after each cycling session. (Residents of Regent Park suffer from a high incidence of Type 2 Diabetes.)
Women in Regent Park come from around the world and are typically newcomers to Toronto. Often, their lives are limited to walkable distances within the Park. As the area continues to redevelop at a fast pace, residents are exposed to high levels of noise pollution and dust caused by construction. Bicycling is an inexpensive way to access jobs, gain exposure to new experiences and breathe fresh air within naturalized park systems. Women polled within the Regent Park yoga and wellness classes expressed enthusiasm for a chance to learn how to bicycle, including, for eg. a young woman from Brazil, a grandmother born in Cambodia and a mother originally from Sri Lanka who says her burka can be arranged for bicycling.