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Welcome to our very first feature in our ‘Everyday Cyclist’ series – this is Hannah, she’s just wonderful and we’re so excited for you to learn more about her. This new ‘Everyday Cyclist’ series is about breaking the traditional norms of what the mainstream paints cyclists and outdoor adventurers to be. We believe that it is important to spotlight the stories that broaden our perspective of who cyclist and outdoor people are…it’s anyone and everyone. By highlighting a diversity of folks, stories and perspectives – we’re hoping to carve out more space in this world that can be so exclusive and limiting. 

Hannah originally hails from Brazil, and now calls Toronto her home — she’s passionate about building equitable cities, and helping people move through them through accessible, multi-modal transportation. Fresh off finishing her Masters in Geography with a focus on urban planning, she’s a breathe of fresh air with big ideas. It was a pleasure to sit down Hannah and chat about her intro to cycling, how to be a hit on a group ride, equity in transportation and city building, her favourite rides, and more. Here’s a video of our sit-down over #coffeeoutside — it’s a good one: 

What does cycling, being outdoors mean to you?


Healing and fun! My favourite place is outside. While I have been cycling all my life, I didn’t identify as a cyclist until university. And that’s mostly because it wasn’t until then that I realized anyone with a bike is a cyclist—you don’t have to look or own certain things to claim that.

What is your vision of the future of cycling?

I think cities should be designed for everybody, so when I think about the future of cycling (in Toronto), I’m thinking about elderly people, children, people with reduced mobility or people with disabilities feeling safe within the infrastructure that exists.[…].I used to think, ‘I want everyone on a bike‘ and was gung-ho about bikes, and all for bikes, bikes, bikes! And now I’m (taking) more the approach of, I want people to bike — and I will promote that, but I also want people to have really good transit access and good walkability so that everyone can get outside in a way that makes them feel great and gives them options. 

And so the vision I have for the future of cycling is having […] so many different people on bikes riding around the city and not just biking, but also like biking to the station being a normal thing and then taking the bus. I would love to see that. […] The future that I envision is just a future where people can get creative with how they get around and they don’t have to depend on the car.

How did you get introduced to cycling?

My sister wrote a book for me, actually, for my birthday one year and it was called ‘Hannah and her bike’ because they found all these pictures of me, since I was little on my bike at different stages. I taught myself how to bike in the hallway at home in Brazil, like pushing side to side on my dad’s bike. And then, when we moved to Canada, he would take me on the Don Valley (trail). And I had a little bike, no brakes, and we would get to the crosswalk and the traffic light and he would be like,’come, come, come.’ And now it’s funny because I’m going to him like ‘come, come, come.’ But ya, he definitely was the one who really fostered and encouraged all my sisters and I to ride. But I think I was the one who really enjoyed it and kept going with it even through high school and middle school. When my parents would give me money for TTC tokens, I would save it and I would just bike to school so I could go out with my friends and buy pizza.

Go-to bike gear?

For adventures and for everyday life, my smartphone bike mount is my piece of bike gear that adds the most value to my rides. Maps are essential for me on rides. My smartphone bike mount helps me access maps with ease—giving me confidence to find my way in new and familiar places. I also love my stem-pouch, and when I go for rides, there’s candy in there because that IS the fuel! I google’d what you’re supposed to eat on a long ride and the answer was candy! So, when I go for rides with my friends, I’m just eating candy.

Favourite kinds of bike rides, and moments?

My favourite bike rides are social rides with friends that end with us jumping in the lake or discovering new places in the city together.My favourite bike moments are on early morning rides by the water, especially on sunny mornings. There’s a stillness in the city and by the lake in the early morning that brings me a lot of peace.

Tell us about your research work on cities and cycling:

I noticed that there was a lot of cycling research in North America and in Europe. And being from Brazil, I just didn’t think the experiences that I was hearing reflected what I know to be true of Brazil. So, for example, the barriers: what’s keeping people off streets (on bikes) in Brazil.

And in my research, I found that, culturally, there’s a big disincentive for women to bike. So they’re told, you know, it’s dangerous…but their brothers are encouraged to bike. There was an example of one participant in my study who, from her grandparents’ eight siblings, six of them were boys and two of them were girls, only the males were taught how to bike. So, bike lanes are important but if you have cultural barriers and there’s this fear […], then there are other things we need to do, to encourage people to bike. 

And so, in Sao Paolo, for example, you have great infrastructure, but women still only represent 10% of cyclists. […] And so, my research sort of came to this (conclusion), the summary is that we need to move from dialogue, to reflection, to action.

People need to have spaces to share their experiences –  why they don’t bike, what are their fears? what are their hesitations? In women’s collectives (in Brazil), they share with one another, they reflect on how one person’s (cycling) experience is different from the other. And then together they go on rides to help one another overcome fear (of cycling).

In my research, I started with one city and then I ended up interviewing women across ten different cities all over Brazil….. who actually all know each other, they all are connected! They don’t really get attention for the work they’re doing, for how they’re mobilizing to encouraging women to bike.

And what’s interesting, too, is that Brazil is very racially diverse. So, you have the Afro-Brazilian women who are at the forefront of this movement. And so, it was cool to see their work, and to hear how women with different lived experiences are bringing their experiences [to this work] and how their experiences are informing the work they do. So, in every community, the outreach is going to look a little bit different. But because these [movements] are locally rooted and they’re led by the people within the communities, they know how to [do] outreach.

I think it speaks to the question of… when you ask people and when you give an opportunity for people to just talk about their experiences, that your world is opened and you realize that everyone has a story with their bicycle, and it’s different than ours…it’s different than yours. I think giving an opportunity for people to share their experiences, that’s what’s going to help us move the cycling world forward in a way that’s going to be different than the past and hopefully better than the past.