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