When and why did you decide to become a Bike Austin member?
I chose to become a Bike Austin member fall 2016. One of my classmates (Miss Shavone Otero) involved with Bike Austin, convinced me to join. Plus, I received a sweet $20 gift card to Bicycle Sport Shop, which I used for repairs on my bike. I’m also an avid cyclist, so it felt right to do so when I was approached. 

You’re a student member.  Tell us what you’re studying and why/if you think the $20 is a cool deal for students. 🙂
I’ve been a student for what seems practically all my life! Not kidding. I’m currently finishing a dual master’s degree in Latin American Studies and Community and Regional Planning from UT Austin, focusing on Haitian migrants’ lives and their relationship to where they live and the role of the Dominican and Haitian government in contributing to the exodus from one’s country to another as well as the role, or lack thereof planning plays in mitigating or exacerbating said migration(s) from Haiti to the Dominican Republic. This is not a new phenomenon. Across the Americas and Europe or in the Middle East, migration is changing the demographics of countries throughout the globe. As global citizens, we must respond ethically and compassionately to people who become displaced or flee wars because of greed, power, and negligence of governments due to capitalism and exploitation.

José & his main mode of transportation. 🙂

What benefits or positive outcomes have you enjoyed as a Bike Austin member?
I have been invited to an array of events advocating for and on behalf of cyclists throughout Austin. I have also found it helpful to meet other avid and passionate cyclists who care about the future of cycling in Austin. In addition, it’s a great way to stay informed about what is happening in Austin with various initiatives or improvements to cycling lanes in conjunction to city laws or ordinances directly affecting cyclists.

Why is Bike Austin important to the Austin cycling community?
Bike Austin is important to the Austin cycling community because it helps serve as a mediator and advocacy group between cyclists in Austin and the city. More importantly, it helps to teach and inform various members about all the possibilities cycling may afford to them in the city, in addition to the education classes offered, specifically in keeping cyclists safe when riding their bicycles. Bike Austin has also strived to work with minority communities in improving road conditions and creating complete streets. As a Latino man, I have witnessed the complicity within planning and city governments in road conditions, sidewalks, or in general, providing access to public spaces or amenities. The people disproportionately affected or who become overlooked tend to be communities of color, and Bike Austin can help bridge the disconnect that exists.

Why/how are donations important to Bike Austin’s Advocacy Fund and education programs?
The Advocacy Fund and education programs are important to provide the resources to Austinites, particularly to youth about the benefits of cycling. With the right resources, cycling can become more than just riding your bicycle to work or school, but help improve your health holistically. Growing up, I had the opportunity to learn how to use a bicycle and the privilege to own multiple. I would ride my bicycle to school, the pool, or even to the library. I still ride my bike to and from the university, or when I run errands, and bring it on the bus. The ability to combine physical activity with cycling helps me feel like I’m getting exercise, even if on that day, I am not able to go exercise. Through these programs, youth and adults can be better informed about cycling and its benefits.

Anything personalized or fun about your experience as a cyclist and why Bike Austin has made this more possible, empowering, safe, groovy, etc.
I have never owned a car and have relied on public transportation and cycling to navigate the cities I have lived in, including Austin! Bike Austin’s influence with the city of Austin, particularly in improving bicycle lanes and creating a social space for other cyclists to come together is something I am thankful for in its many goals! Shout to my home girl Shavone for helping make Bike Austin more visible in Austin!