Monday, January 12, 2015

Shop Spotlight: Earn-A-Bike Co-op, San Antonio, TX

The San Antonio Earn-A-Bike Co-op (EAB) is a volunteer driven initiative with a mission to to create equitable access to bicycling by providing affordable bicycle maintenance, services and education. Their shop provides a central forum for sharing equipment, materials and expertise, and facilitates affordable, practical, hands-on support for cyclist of all ages and skill levels.

EAB welcomes anyone who wants to learn about cycling, repairs, maintenance or safe riding. Aside from the pleasure of fixing and riding bicycles, members of the EAB believe that bicycles are vital for socio-economic gain, and offer an environmentally sustainable option to the automobile. The Earn-A-Bike program pairs those in need with skilled volunteers to rebuild and repair donated bicycles.

At EAB, participation in advocacy would be encouraged. They view the co-op model as one that promotes cooperation from everyone in the community. If someone has a passion to advocate for policy, they can go forward representing EAB. The organization would support the effort as long as it promotes bicycling and safety.

In the words of Cristian Sandoval, Executive Director and Founder "We don't push our agenda, we prove our points. At the moment, we are tracking the benefits of implementing the Earn A Bike program in a lower income community as a means to reduce high school drop out rates and improve the health of the participant. If successful, we will publish and raise funds from the community to expand the program".

In the spirit of giving and sustainability, EAB embraces researchers, advocates, philanthropists, writers, photographers, sociologists and other members of the community collaborating to prove the outcomes. Un-like the Newark Bike Project, events and activities must be bicycling-related, or they will not be considered. They even have a soldering class that uses old bicycle frames for labs and teaching.

EAB rents their facility for $800 a month. Currently, the lease is volunteer paid, and will be until the organization is solvent - hopefully by the end of 2015. EAB operates with transparency and accountability in all aspects, including program planning and operations, finances, etc. Their primary goal is to provide equitable, affordable and practical services with a priority to those in need.

In the interest of safety, Cristian Sandoval demonstrates the importance of using a helmet.

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