Magic City Bicycle Collective aims to ‘demystify’ bikes

By | June 25th, 2012 | 10 Comments
Girl on a yellow bike

Miami’s burgeoning bike scene keeps on rolling with the launch of the Magic City Bicycle Collective. — photo by Robby Campbell

Miami is a notoriously sprawling metropolis that many long ago wrote off as a cyclist’s nightmare. But the huge popularity of the monthly group bike ride Miami Critical Mass (held the last Friday of every month, including this coming Friday) is an undeniable sign that the local bike scene is coming into its own. Then there’s the the proliferation of bike lanes and sharrows, the success of bike sharing programs like DecoBike, and even the launch of a Miami bike polo club.

While Miami still has a long way to go to catch up with the world’s most bike-friendly cities, it certainly has its wheels rolling in the right direction. The latest development is the launch of the Magic City Bicycle Collective, which will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, June 30, at its downtown space. To learn more about the event and the collective itself, I recently exchanged emails with one of its founders, Dario Gonzalez.

What is the purpose of the MCBC? Please elaborate on the stated mission.

DG: The purpose of the MCBC is to demystify bicycles and encourage the general public to incorporate practical bicycling into everyday life. People enthusiastically embrace bicycling until they get a flat, bend a wheel, or get a sticky brake. The next stop for this broken bike should be a repair shop rather than a storage room, balcony, or backyard. We aim to get people over these hurdles by teaching them how to repair and maintain their own bicycles. The MCBC provides a workspace, tools, and knowledge to fix your own bike.

How does the MCBC fit into the overall development of Miami’s bike “scene”? How will it further catalyze it?

DG: We are looking to expand bicycle knowledge to everyone. Anyone that rides a bicycle ought to know how to fix a flat. The MCBC shows curious riders how bikes work and what’s happened when they don’t. Knowing how to fix simple issues builds confidence. The aim is to encourage anyone with errands to run to seriously consider riding a bike. The MCBC will also be a place to share and grow a smarter and broader culture. Miami’s bicyclists will become smarter in the ways of fixing and maintaining their bicycles. Miami will also grow in the number of people accepted into the bicyclist community; we don’t have to identify first as bicyclists in order to be contributing members to the bicycling community.

Who is behind the MCBC? Any sponsors? Funding?

DG: The MCBC is the product of people and community groups talking, planning, and dedicating their time to acquire a workspace and fill it with practical activity. We’ve consulted with several Florida bike co-ops and have been supported by several community groups including The Miami Bike Scene, Miami Bike Polo, and Emerge Miami. While The Corner has donated use of their space, all funding for this project has come from a community of bicyclists concerned with growing and maturing bicycle culture in the Miami area. We hope the bulk of our expenses are covered by grants from local foundations but we will also sell memberships and charge hourly for repair time and used parts.

Beyond the party on Saturday, what events/workshops does MCBC have planned? What is the long-term vision for the MCBC?

DG: The MCBC is building toward a sustainable workshop that can provide essential services to bicyclists for next to nothing. This is a workshop as opposed to a local bike shop. We are not competing with businesses that sell and repair bikes. We will raise the community’s capacity to do for itself and we will always charge for parts or services. Until we are self-sustaining, we will continue to apply for grants, ask for donations, and hold occasional fund raisers. Also, the MCBC will always be found providing simple services to Critical Mass participants on the last Friday of the month at Government Center.

How can the average Miami cyclist/bike owner get involved?

DG: Average Miamians transform into superheroes when they volunteer (at the MCBC or elsewhere). Volunteers power the Magic City Bicycle Collective, and everyone has something to offer. Monday night meetings are at The Corner at 7:30pm until operations are running smoothly. Though your time is essential, cash covers our unavoidable expenses.

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For more information on the Magic City Bicycle Collective, visit magiccitybike.com. Here’s the event flyer.

MCBC Grand Opening Flyer

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10 Comments on “Magic City Bicycle Collective aims to ‘demystify’ bikes”

  1. 1 kaelsie said at 9:46 pm on June 25th, 2012:

    very exciting! definitely needed here…hope many more get involved and donate their time to this.

  2. 2 Pat Santangelo said at 12:28 pm on June 26th, 2012:

    My name is Pat Santangelo. I am currently the spokesperson for Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. Mayor Regalado is very supportive of the bicycle community.
    Also, I am a candidate for Florida State Representative, District 108, which includes North Miami, Miami Shores, the Design District and Upper East Side of Miami. Improving bicycle and pedestrian safety is my passion and is one of the reasons I chose to run for state office. If I can help in any way, let me know.

  3. 3 andy said at 3:26 pm on June 26th, 2012:

    Maybe the writer should learn that the mechanism to make a bike stop is called a brake, not a ‘break’

  4. 4 Jordan Melnick said at 3:40 pm on June 26th, 2012:

    Andy, thanks for pointing out the error. Please find it in your heart to forgive me.

  5. 5 The Dog said at 1:31 am on June 28th, 2012:

    I love my bike on South Beach and use it often. I also love my scooter.

  6. 6 lorraine said at 9:36 am on June 28th, 2012:

    How do we keep from getting our bikes stolen, inspite of them being locked up. We have had 4 bikes stolen in the past year. Any suggestions?

  7. 7 billy said at 10:16 am on June 28th, 2012:

    @lorraine Ulocks are the best.. And don’t leave bikes outside overnite on a regular basis. Ever.

  8. 8 Rydee said at 10:16 am on June 28th, 2012:

    Lorraine, the type of locks used may have played a role in the 4 bikes getting stolen. Did you use a cable lock? Also, were the bikes parked overnight on the street? It’s almost impossible to protect a bike 100% from theft, however using 16mm u-lock along with a bonus lock is usually your best bet against theft. It will at the very least make it much more difficult for the thieves.

  9. 9 Athena Smith said at 10:51 am on June 29th, 2012:

    Mr. Santangelo:

    I am a 2nd generation Miamian transplanted to Portland, Oregon. The bike culture here, as you may have heard, is awesome. Something you may or may not have heard about is something we do called “Sunday Parkways”. It is a take-off of Bogota, Columbia’s “Cyclovia”. It is where you close a certain amount of your community’s streets to car traffic for a specified amount of time, to open them to human-powered traffic. It’s a lot of fun, and has done much to get the community to see how much fun bicycling can be, while being healthy and leaving a tiny footprint on your environment at the same time. Cyclovia closes 70 miles of their streets to motored traffic every Sunday – all year, I believe, because weather doesn’t impinge on them. We only close 6-9 miles of traffic on a Sunday once a month, from May to September, from about 11-4. (It has varied as we have tried different timeframes to see what works best.) It is also showcases each community to the rest of the city/metro area, and shows off what infrastructural improvements the city has made to promote bicycling and make it easier for cyclists not to get hit or killed (sharrows, bike boulevards, etc.) It’s a festival – we invite food vendors, health and safety organizations, musical groups, carnival performers, all kinds of community organizations contribute, and we use a loop to connect up city parks, where events are happening. And the City of Portland sponsors/runs it, with help from various organizations like Kaiser Permanente (our major sponsor). That’s where you come in. If you would like to hear and see more, please contact Linda Ginenthal at the City of Portland, at: Linda.Ginenthal@portlandoregon.gov
    She’s a great lady, and the director of our program. Good luck, and here’s to bikey fun!

  10. 10 BTJ said at 8:30 am on July 2nd, 2012:

    Jordan’s error brakes my hart.


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