Ir al contenido principal

Bike Co-ops of Mexico: A Cyclist Movement


by Eva Boynton/ www.oh-i-see.com/blog/2015/01/12/bike-co-ops-of-mexicoa-cyclist-movement/

Repair class in a bike co-op that is part of a larger cyclist movement. (Image © Ernesto Asecas)

A repair class at a bike coop gets bikes moving and fuels a bigger cyclist movement.
© Ernesto Asecas
How a Broken Chain Got Me Going

A bicycle can travel the globe, but any pedal-powered steed may need a tune-up along the way. On a cycle trip through California and Mexico, I walked into Casa Ciclista, a bicycle co-op in Guadalajara, looking for nothing more than a new chain. Instead, I emerged with a renewed sense of empowerment.

Little did I know a simple part replacement would gear me towards self sufficiency and a “hands-on” community looking to solve problems: themes of a cyclist movement in Mexico.
Two people holding up a bicycle wheel, illustrating how people in a bike co-op come together in a cyclist movement. (Image © Eva Boynton)

Hands at the collective helm
© Eva Boynton
The Cooperative: A Place for All

Bike co-ops are participant-run spaces for a burgeoning bicycle culture in Mexico. Each is unique in how it creates a free space for people to unite, learn, and make city changes.


Casa Bicitekas, a cooperative in Mexico City, describes itself as un lugar para todos (a place for all). Its aim is to be “a community center around the culture and art of urban cycling, offering a space for connection and coexistence . . .”

At each co-op I was warmly welcomed with a bed (literally). Not only did I find a vibrant community of people and talents but also cyclists who wanted to educate others as well as themselves.
Do-It-Yourself

In my Guadalajara layover, I learned firsthand the power of the co-op’s educational purpose. Cooperatives function as bicycle repair shops with tools and parts that are donated or collected. They offer essential working space.
Tools in a communal workspace inside a bike co-op, illustrating one way the co-ops build a community as part of their cyclist movement. (Image © Eva Boynton)

An oasis for cyclists who take tools into their own hands
© Eva Boynton

To replace my chain, a volunteer at Casa Ciclista directed me while my fingers stumbled around the bicycle’s nuts and bolts. Although he could have jumped in with his own hands, with more speed and efficiency, he had me use my own.

Co-ops are centers for teaching and learning. The volunteer made clear that the time we invested in my repair was time well spent.

Oh, I see the power of using my own hands. They were their own problem solvers, not limited by something gone awry. I was learning to wheel through Mexico on a vehicle I could power and maintain myself.
Hands-On Solutions

Bike co-op advocacy extends beyond the individual, playing a role in regional and national issues.

Each co-op recognizes the benefits and potential impact of bicycles. BiciRed (bici is short for “bicycle” and red for “network”), a national association of cooperatives in Mexico, explains:

The bicycle is the most efficient, healthy, economic, and sustainable means of transportation along the urban roadways of Mexico.
Greater use of bicycles can bring about a new model for city living that prioritizes the coexistence between people.

This creative 1-minute video from Bicitekas is a testimony to the bicycle as an option for moving around a city comfortably and rapidly.

If video does not display, watch it here.

When issues that affect the community arise, members of bike co-ops take advocacy efforts into their own hands. Cyclists at Casa Ciclista get their hands dirty to create bike parking out of car parking.
Cyclists from a bike co-op in Guadalajara turning a car parking space into bike parking. (Image © Casa Ciclista)

At least 6 bikes can fit in a parking space designed for one car.
© Casa Ciclista

Seth Domínguez and Kerem Meyeus are two people mobilizing their own ideas for bettering their city, Toluca. Seth, Kerem, and Seth’s dog Manouche are the co-founders of a bicycle cooperative called La Bicindad de Todxs (The Bicycle Neighborhood for All).
Seth Domínguez and Kerem Meyeus, part of the cyclist movement in Mexico, stand in the communal space of their bike co-op. (Image © Seth Domínguez)

Women, men, children, and even dogs can join the cyclist “neighborhood.”
© Seth Domínguez

The name, La Bicindad, combines the words bicicleta (bicycle) and vecindad (neighborhood). The “x” in Todxs (all) makes the word gender inclusive. The name reflects the spirit of community and unity for action in this Toluca co-op.

Seth is interested in utilizing La Bicindad to advocate for a bicycle-friendly city by installing bicycle parking, improving bike lanes, and holding maintenance classes for anyone interested. He clarifies why community members are relying on their own hands:

The whole idea of La Bicindad was that in Mexico everything is very bureaucratic, I mean everything. So, we wanted to do something bike-related and not have to depend on government money or belonging to a cycling group.
Pedaling for Pesos

Cooperatives are an oasis to cyclists—hosted space, tools, and instruction for free. So, how do they fund themselves?

As a true Renaissance man, Seth is a bicimensajero: a bike courier. He makes a living by picking up and delivering laundry, dry cleaning, and food.

In addition, using a heavy-duty industrial sewing machine, Seth sews backpacks, panniers, and hip bags out of recycled bicycle tubes for their co-op store. The proceeds go to La Bicindad.
Backpack made from used bike tubes in a Mexican bike co-op, illustrating how co-ops raise money for cyclist movements. (Image © Seth Dominguez)

Old bike tubes become new backpacks.
© Seth Domínguez

Although funding can be challenging, Seth makes a better wage on bicycle than when he taught English as a Second Language (ESL) to businessmen.

Ernesto Asecas, a coordinator at Casa Bicitekas, explains that his co-op runs off of donations, sales of t-shirts, books, stickers, and fund-raising parties as well as bicycle maintenance work around the city. The t-shirt sums up the co-op’s advocacy mission:
T-shirt created by Casa Bicitekas, a bike co-op that is part of the urban cyclist movement in Mexico City. (Image © Casa Bicitekas)

“Bicitekas—for more human cities and
sustainable transportation”
© Casa Bicitekas



Time invested and handiwork keep the co-ops pedaling forward.
Bicycles Making the Move

When I started my bicycle tour, I saw the bike as a fun activity or means of commuting, cheap travel, exercise, team sport and racing. After visiting one bike co-op after another in Mexico, I began assigning new meaning to the bicycle: a public opportunity for personal, sustainable and social change.

The hands-on cyclist movement has begun, and it’s open to anyone.

Ride a bike!

cycle-clipart-bike_silhouette

Comment on this post below, or inspire insight with your own OIC Moment here.

Thank you, Seth, for the interview. Thank you to the bicycle cooperatives in Guadalajara, Toluca, and Mexico City for hosting me along my bicycle tour. Hope to see you all again soon.



Comentarios

Entradas más populares de este blog

Ciclovías, adelante sin consulta: Alfaro

por Fernanda Carapia/ntrguadalajara.com

A FAVOR Y EN CONTRA. Los espacios para ciclistas generan diversas reacciones en la ciudad. (Foto: Alfonso Hernández) La construcción de ciclovías no está a consulta ciudadana, aseguró tajante el alcalde de Guadalajara, Enrique Alfaro Ramírez. “Todo mundo tiene derecho a expresar su opinión, pero quien gobierna esta ciudad tomó hace mucho la determinación de que esta ciudad tiene que buscar mecanismos de transporte no motorizado y la apuesta de las ciclovías va a seguir adelante”. El presidente municipal criticó la postura del Instituto Electoral y de Participación Ciudadana (IEPC) de someter a consulta la construcción de caminos seguros para ciclistas. “No podemos ahorita salir con la barbaridad y atrocidad que dijo el instituto, que dice que vamos a someter a consulta pública si se hacen ciclovías en la ciudad, ¿quién se creen en el instituto?”. “La agenda de movilidad no motorizada es una agenda que hemos comprometido los gobiernos de esta ciudad p…

La Guadalajara amurallada domina 14% de la ciudad

Especialista de la Universidad de Passau, Alemania, analiza en particular el caso de Zapopan, donde están más de la mitad de 2500 cotos o “urbanizaciones cerradas” del AMG
Agustín del Castillo / Guadalajara. MILENIO JALISCO.  http://www.agustindelcastillo.com/
Los castillos del señor feudal ofrecían a sus moradores, incluso a los más precarios, los siervos que habitaban en torno a la muralla, una posibilidad perdida en la larga noche medieval: la seguridad. Bajo esta premisa, una extraña Edad Media se abre paso y domina cada vez más el imaginario de los moradores del área metropolitana de Guadalajara (AMG): los casi 2,500 “cotos” o urbanizaciones cerradas se extienden sobre 14 por ciento de las 65 mil hectáreas de “ciudad construida”, y van al alza.
Es un especialista migrado del mismo corazón de la vieja Europa, el doctorante en geografía por la Universidad de Passau, Bernd Pfannenstein, catedrático en la escuela de Arquitectura de la Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara (UAG), quien s…

La atropellan y le exigen pago

por Fernanda Carapia,  5 de Septiembre de 2016/ntrguadalajara.com 
Sara Magos sospecha que hay corrupción entre los agentes que llevan su caso y la aseguradora GNP. Hace un año, la vida de Sara Magos García dio un giro de 180 grados: un auto la atropelló cuando iba en su bicicleta, pasó varios días en terapia intensiva, pagó más de 100 mil pesos para recuperar su salud, aún tiene secuelas y, por si fuera poco, debe cubrir el daño que causó al carro que la arrolló. “La señora reclamaba que le pagara sus daños, que me hiciera responsable del accidente que había provocado”, informó. Magos García sospecha que entre los agentes que traen su caso y la aseguradora GNP hay corrupción, pues han habido cosas que no checan, como que en uno de los peritajes de causalidad vial se señaló que la mujer que conducía el vehículo, Leticia Brambila López, viajaba a 40 kilómetros por hora.