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An underground bike economy helps shape the lives of downtown Eastside recyclers

People in the informal economy are known to respect each other's collection territories, but companies do not regularly supply second-hand goods and Bike shops offer free repairs.

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.
Michael Leland of Vancouver. Downtown his East Side cyclists who recycle for a living are a big help in helping Vancouver push to become carbon-free by 2030, new research finds. I was. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

The tournament is over.

For these Vancouver 'biners', solidifying community ties is invaluable. Those involved in the informal economy are known to respect each other's search territories, but companies exclude regular supplies of used items. , and bike shops offer free repairs.

A study published in the magazine Mobilitiesfocused on the phenomenon of the "underground bicycle economy" and described his five middle-aged men living on the Downtown East Side. daily life has been investigated. Set up a "trap line" to work from. Participants interviewed in January 2020 and he February had no accommodation or lived in a one-room hotel.

With about 10% of Vancouver's homeless population participating in environmentally friendly businesses, the principal investigator of the study said the city could give them a greater say in future transportation planning and policy. says it should be given.

“Based on our findings that the needs of some participants are currently not being met, we are working to ensure that cyclists living in poverty can continue to work safely. I recommend that you consider it.” says Jeanette Steinmann, Ph.D. student in kinesiology at the University of BC.

Ms. Steinman cycled through Vancouver, but she said her usual routes were different from those of the residents she interviewed.

"For me, cycling is an eco-friendly choice. However, some people have limited transportation options. They need more cycling."

As part of it, Steinman rode with study participants. "Access to some of the bottle depots was difficult. In one case, there was a telephone pole in the middle of the sidewalk, making it difficult to bike over the viaduct," she told Postmedia.

Recycler Michael Leland holds a five-year-old photo of himself on his route near the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club.
Recycler Michael Leland for 5 years - Royal Vancouver Old photo with route near yacht club. Photo by Arlen Redekop/PNG

Michael Leland, 64, lives in Vancouver where he has been self-employed for over 20 years. is a recycler.

"I started seeing all these beer cans along Hastings Street and thought I could make a few bucks by buying liquor," said his SRO, who did not participate in the survey. said a resident of

In his early days as a "binner" he was lucky enough to cart anything recyclable on foot he carted for 10 hours and earned $40.

"When I started his job in 2000 when he was 45, everyone was complaining. Companies didn't like you hanging around the alleys." ' said Leland.

But after several years of collecting, he said he was able to build trust with the locals in the community, adding regulars to his route.

"When they got to know me, their demeanor completely changed when they saw that I hadn't trespassed and had done a good job."

His first biweekly pick-up at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club coincided with his decision to bike recyclables. “Cycling has made my job so much easier and I was able to haul 150 pounds in a modified tow trailer.”

Returned Beverage Containers Under 1 Liter Starting at 5 Cents Nov 2019 By the time it increased to 1 cent,Leland was making $160 a day.

"The yacht club never took the bottle out to anyone but me. Often they saved me a steak."

} According to the study, for those Steinman studied, the relationships they formed at work "represented an element of stability and reliability in the lives of recyclers whose lives were precarious for much of their lives." 91}

"The social connections that informal recyclers developed over the years of recycling were important not only for social support, but also for ensuring a stable supply of recyclables." said it.

Most of the city's recycling he depots have moved from downtown to industrial areas. These include Regional Bottle His Depot, a location in East His Vancouver known for housing regular recyclers.

"Every time you get a receipt from a bottle return, you can sign it and enter a monthly $100 drawing," Leland said, noting that the depot owner had previously purchased his I added that I came home. Aid after his bike was stolen.

Formerly downtown he was known as the East Side Street Market, the Four Directions Trading Post also provides recyclers with a low-cost place to buy a bike when they need it.

Leland has found new life since establishing himself as a recycler in Vancouver and launching his nonprofit, The Binners Project, to help those in the can collecting community. is said to have been infused.

"I found purpose in my work and quit drinking. Recyclers like me are more respected and are learning about the positive impact our work has on the environment."

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