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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    School yourself on two wheels: learn bicycle mechanics at BICAS

    School yourself on two wheels: learn bicycle mechanics at BICAS

    If you find yourself in a bit of a slump this semester, get yourself in gear at BICAS, an underground haven for self-powered movement. It’s green, it’s affordable and it’s certainly radical.

    The Tucson non-profit collective Bicycle Inter-Community Art and Salvage is not a bike shop. It is an organization that provides the community with the knowledge, resources and space to fix a bicycle and set yourself in motion.

    The underground concrete space that houses BICAS is extensive and spacious, the beams adorned with hanging bicycle wheels in all shapes, sizes, colors and degrees of imperfection. More than a few bike aficionados bustle about the workplace, and a sea of bicycles in the center of the room imbues the viewer with a feeling of whimsy.

    Boxes of parts are scattered about the shop, cordoned off by the purpose they serve. For those already familiar with the componentry of of a bike, BICAS feels like a candy shop and you’re a greasy little kid. yet if you’re mechanically challeneged, this is the place to learn familiarize yourself with the tools of the trade, while being guided along every step of the way.

    The BICAS community are the kind of people who welcome newcomers with open arms, albeit with grimy hands from bicycle repair. But a little grease never hurt anyone, and in this case, it’s for a good cause.

    “We have trained thousands of youth and adults in the trade of bicycle repair, maintenance and safety, and restored thousands of bicycles, saving them from the waste stream,” reads a message on the collective’s website.

    Kylie Walzak, BICAS’ administration coordinator, has been involved with the organization five years this April. “I got involved with BICAS after taking one of the Build-A-Bike classes offered, and was so thrilled to find a place that offered such dynamic community outreach programs,” Walzack said.

    Sustained entirely by donations and recyclable materials, BICAS is a collaborative space. It’s an alternative kind of community outreach, fueled through community donations and participation. This symbiotic relationship has sustained the organization since 1994.

    The patrons of BICAS are a colorful microcosm of greater Tucson, “older folks, families, people like you and me, students from the [university] … we see just about everyone,” said Monique Laraway, a member of the BICAS collective.

    BICAS operates as a maintenance location, bicycle education center, sustainable arts complex, supply shop and community outreach program, with a wealth of recycled bicycle riches.
    And who doesn’t love saving money? BICAS caters to the student budget with a work-trade program that awards volunteers earn eight dollars of store credit an hour to put toward a used bike.

    As all the available materials and bicycles are either salvaged or donated, this is by far the most economic and environmentally friendly means to get moving. For bicycle enthusiasts, BICAS’ recycled parts mean that there’s some gems to be found amidst the plethora of parts. A keen eye and resilient disposition can score you high-end track hubs, Italian road bike handlebars or even retro racing framesets.

    Keep coming back to BICAS and you may be lucky enough to put together a two-wheeled beautyß that will warrant the jealousy of even the most seasoned cyclists.
    You’ll probably meet some characters, too; that’s one of the charms of BICAS.

    “I like the diversity of people coming in to use BICAS’ services,” Walzak said. “There will be an entire family with little kids working side by side next to a student, who’s working next to a homeless person,”

    The mission of BICAS is to get people moving, to create a collective space for growth and self-fulfilled opportunity. It is engaging people in a sustainable practice that ultimately benefits everyone, a practice that those at BICAS feel is by no means losing momentum.

    For those in need of a new perspective, a new ride or just a certain bike part, BICAS is the place to go.

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