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Underground bicycle economy helps shape lives for recyclers in Downtown Eastside

Underground bicycle economy helps shape lives for recyclers in Downtown Eastside

Michael Leland in Vancouver. A new study finds Downtown Eastside cyclists who recycle to make ends meet have been a great help to Vancouver’s push…

Friday, Aug 19

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Michael Leland in Vancouver. A new study finds Downtown Eastside cyclists who recycle to make ends meet have been a great help to Vancouver’s push to become carbon free by 2030. A network of sidewalks, alleyways and busy roads is vital for dozens of Downtown Eastside residents who rely on the daily collection of recyclables, as well as their bikes, in order to make ends meet. Article content

For these Vancouver “binners,” solidifying community connections is invaluable — those involved in the informal economy are known to respect each other’s retrieval territory, while businesses leave out a regular supply of used items, and bike shops offer free repairs.

The phenomenon of the “underground bicycle economy” is the focus of a study published in the journal Mobilities , examining the day-to-day lives of five middle-aged Downtown Eastside men who established “trap lines” to carry out the work. Participants interviewed in January and February 2020 were unhoused or lived in single-room occupancy hotels.

With around 10 per cent of Vancouver’s homeless population participating in the eco-friendly venture, the study’s lead researcher says the city should offer them a greater say in transportation planning and policies of the future. Article content

“Based on our finding that the needs of some participants are not being met at present, we suggest cyclists living in poverty should be considered so they can continue to do their jobs safely,” said Jeanette Steinmann, a PhD kinesiology student at the University of B.C.

While Steinmann commutes across Vancouver on a bike, […]

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