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Riding the bike to employment
It was only last year that I became a serious biking aficionado. I bought a bike from a genuine bike store (as opposed Toys’R’Us), got it registered with the Toronto Police (do it, if you love your bike!), signed up for the annual tune-up program and got all kinds of bells and whistles (!) to make it safe and fun to ride. I always rode bikes but now that I have this awesome baby, it just felt different — I took it more seriously, took a refresher course on rules of the road and made riding my main physical activity.
I think it’s my newfound love of riding that makes me quite interested in following any biking news around the city. Like everyone else I’m dismayed by the ongoing debates about bike lanes and the wars seemingly always flaring up between cyclists and drivers. But I was excited to read in the Toronto Star article Art of Bicycle Maintenance Puts Young Workers on a New Path about the Learning Enrichment Foundation’s Bicycle Assembly and Maintenance (BAM) program. The foundation offers a number of training and employment initiatives and its BAM is now maintaining bikes for Bixi.
“In addition to bicycle assembly, the eight-week course teaches students how to maintain and repair almost any model built since 1995. Graduates receive a Bicycle Trade Association of Canada certificate as well as certification in first aid, emergency CPR, the workplace hazardous materials information system (WHMIS) and workplace health and safety,” says the Star article. In order to graduate, students must attend 80 per cent of the classes and get 80s in assigned exercises.
Classes have a max of 10 students; half of them are welfare recipients and have been referred by Toronto Employment and Social Services. The paying students have to cover the $1,080 tuition. Most graduates are able to find work in local sporting goods with wages ranging from $12 an hour, rising to $18 an hour for seasoned technicians.