Community Cycles, Boulder’s local non-profit bike collective, has expanded its Earn-A-Bike program to Spanish speakers, partnering with Intercambio to reach people most in need of these workshops. Intercambio is an independent non-profit organization providing cultural integration and English classes to immigrants in Boulder County and Denver. BikeLife sat down with Dax Burgos, the Community Cycles shop manager, to talk about their program.
How have things been going with the workshops?
I was super excited about the partnership with Intercambio, especially being a Spanish speaker.It’s like, oh rad! It’s for the people who probably need it the most, and it’s usually not inviting to them. I was really shocked at the first Earn-A-Bike workshop, we had a really good turnout, I think about 10 people, which is amazing. The second one I think we had 7 or 8, a little less. Our last one has been postponed because people didn’t sign up. I don’t know if I just didn’t push hard enough or talk to the right people. Or maybe everyone who is already interested has already done it. I don’t think that’s the case though. I’m assuming that people brains are starting to shift from summer activities to winter.
What sort of things do you cover in Earn-A-Bike besides the actual bike building part?
We do very comprehensive stuff. It’s very beginner. We’ll do learn how to patch a tire, and then we talk about the different types of lighting. We go over appropriate attire to wear. We talk about all the different parts on the bike, so it’s basically Bikes 101.
Given that many Hispanics are low income, do you think that they’re especially suited for getting around by bike?
I think so, yeah. The big problem that I see with Latinos is that they continue to buy department store bikes, which are not the quality of a lot of the bikes that you see here in Boulder. So I think that they don’t think of it as a real mode of transportation, which is the general idea in the United States. So they’re like, oh, let’s just buy something from Walmart for 150 bucks. That doesn’t really make the riding very much fun. It causes another huge hurdle of going the distance on the bicycle. Whereas if you spend a little more and get something from an actual bike shop, I think it would be easier to make that transition.
What do you think could be done to get more Hispanics riding bikes in Boulder County?
I think it’s just outreach, like going to low-income housing, that would probably be incredibly helpful. I don’t see the language barrier being such an issue because everywhere Latinos work they’re having to deal in English already. So I’m not sure how much that plays into it. I’m curious to see if you were to get the youth more involved, if it would change. Like if we went to schools and directly to the kids, I think definitely that’s a good way to get parents involved. Parents just want to be with their kids, I’ve seen that happen in a couple instances, and it’s great.
Transportation makes up 17% of a households cost of living, which means that lower income families have a higher burden. Switching to bike commuting allows more money to go to other living costs, like housing and food. Different kinds of public transportation can be combined with biking in order to commute longer distances. Buses have the capacity to take bikes, or bikes can be stored at free secure bike shelters on either side of your public transit system. Community Cycles works to help people make these combinations in order for biking to be a viable way of commuting. They’re looking to expand programs similar to their workshop with Intercambio to actual sites, bringing bikes to people if they don’t have them or teaching them the same course that it taught in their shop in their home.