Bicycling can be a lifestyle, a mode of transportation, or a recreational getaway. No matter what your relationship is with your bike – or a rental – it requires both physical and mental effort. One year from now, San Antonians will have BScuela, a school that will foster those relationships by teaching interested community members everything from bicycle safety and maintenance to proper road etiquette and nutrition.

Local cycling activist Cristian Sandoval co-founded Earn-A-Bike Co-op (EAB), a local bicycle outreach organization that offers bicycle maintenance and education classes to community members, and is leading the effort to expand EAB’s footprint in the Westside with BScuela, which grew out of experiences he had while operating Earn-A-Bike and his own time on the road as a cyclist.

“We see that there is an opportunity for us to bring more bicycle awareness and education to our community so that we create a greater degree of advocacy for cycling as (a form of) transportation and as a lifestyle,” he said.

To earn funds for BScuela, Earn-A-Bike Co-op in partnership with the San Antonio Tuesday Night Bike Club will host the inaugural Bike October Fest “World Heritage Ride”  on Saturday, Oct. 10 starting at Alamo Brewery. The day-long event will include bike building workshops, polka dancing classes, a pumpkin carving contest, live music, an SA Tomorrow stage, and a narrated World Heritage Site ride for those who want to tour the newly-designated Missions. Four rides will be available to cyclists, ranging from a two-mile, one-hour ride to a 25-mile, four- or five-hour ride. Click here for a complete schedule of events. Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff will attend the event to kick off the tour of the Missions.

The Rivard Report is a media sponsor for the event.

Jeff Moore, the leader of the Tuesday Night Bike Club, said hundreds of people participate in the weekly rides who usually meet at the Pearl Brewery near Sam’s Burger Joint. He said the ride has taken off in the past two years and has attracted people from throughout the city.

“It’s fun and it’s safe,” he said, adding that downtown streets are empty during the night. Moore and his fellow bike club members will lead the Mission rides from Alamo Brewery during the Bike October Fest.

Cristian Sandoval speaks to the children. Photo by Scott Ball.

“San Antonio Earn-A-Bike Co-Op is one of the most innovative programs in the nation,” Judge Wolff said. “It is a significant outreach effort to young individuals that fosters a healthy lifestyle.”

Sandoval said the interaction between cyclists and drivers is often one against the other. Both want access to the road, but oftentimes either the cyclist or the driver end up feeling like “they own the road” and aggression, instead of continuity, is often surfaced between the two.

BScuela will teach “holistic ways of thinking” to quell the tension between the cyclist and the driver.

“We need to create people who are capable of being open-minded,” Sandoval said, adding that BScuela will act as a catalyst for growing a “smart cycling community” that is sensitive to the interests of everyone sharing the road.

“If we keep going at the rate we are going and don’t take the time to expose our youth to (cycling) … then they are going to gravitate toward buying a truck and they are not going to be sensitive to cyclists,” Sandoval said.

Friends from Earn-A-Bike Co-op came to help assemble bikes during the Chiquitas Ciclistas event in the Eastside. Photo by Rachel Chaney

Sandoval purchased the property – including an adjacent vacant lot – at 2619 Guadalupe St. in 2011 to create Earn-A-Bike, which currently operates out of a house and a small detached garage.

A long rectangular two-story building that consists of a bicycle mechanics station, a classroom area, and a computer lab, will be constructed on the vacant lot, which overlooks the Apache Creek.

An aerial view of Earn-A-Bike Co-op’s expansion plans for BScuela. Image courtesy of Urbanist Design.

The mechanics station will serve as a place for visitors to tune up their bikes, the classroom will provide students an area learn about bicycle safety and nutrition, and the computer lab will give entrepreneurs a place to develop business plans. Along with a place to learn about cycling, Sandoval said he wants BScuela to serve as an incubator for cycling businesses.

The home will be renovated for its continued use as an office area and a meeting space for local cycling organizations.

Apache Creek, part of the Westside Creeks Restoration Project, will link to the citywide Howard W. Peak Greenway Trails System once construction is complete in March 2016. A 10-foot wide path will run the length of the creek and connect to the street, providing those at BScuela access to an ever-growing linear trail system.

“As a city we are trying to create more access to these natural resources that we have,” Sandoval said, adding that he plans to host cycling classes along the creekway. “We are promoting the river as a great path to get from one place to another … and not only rely on the street where there are vehicles.”

The historic home will become office and meeting space for Earn-A-Bike Co-op and its new BScuela. Image courtesy of Urbanist Design.

“As a city we are trying to create more access to these natural resources that we have,” Sandoval said, adding that he plans to host cycling classes along the creekway. “We are promoting the river as a great path to get from one place to another … and not only rely on the street where there are vehicles.”

Urbanist Design Principal Architect Jonathan Card, who is designing the BScuela bike shed, said the school’s proximity to the creek will activate the trail system while providing students a safer place to ride their bikes.

“Some of those streets are pretty busy and (using the creek) … reinforces all of the efforts the City and everyone else has put into the Westside creek revitalization,” Card said.

Card said BScuela is providing a service that “seems so obvious but nobody else saw it.” He said more cycling organizations will likely springboard out of the creation of BScuela.

“It’s a whole cultural thing that is happening, or needs to happen, there are so many people who are starting to ride bikes but there still are safety issues because either drivers aren’t familiar with cyclists or cyclists are familiar with how to coexist (with drivers),” he said.

Earn-A-Bike Co-op, Card said, has attracted people from across the city to come together to learn about the cycling culture and BScuela will enhance that cohesion by connecting people “from different vantage points (who are) working toward common goals.”

*Featured/top image: A rendering of the future BScuela warehouse (red) and Earn-A-Bike facilities. Image courtesy of Urbanist Design. 

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Joan Vinson

Former Rivard Report Assistant Editor Joan Vinson is a San Antonio native who graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She's a yoga fanatic and an adventurer at heart....

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