Published on January 30th, 2012 | by Rhonda Winter4
Biketopia: Learning about Bike Repair & Transitional Economies
Do you believe that utilizing more bicycles for everyday transportation will help create a more sustainable world? Would you like to learn how to build and easily maintain your own bike? If the answer to these questions is yes, please come visit Biketopia and find out how you can construct your very own own bicycle utopia.
Biketopia is a new cooperative bike shop that opened this month in Berkeley, at 1752 Alcatraz Street, just around the corner from the Ashby BART station. In addition to fixing your bicycle, the shop also functions as a community bicycle education and youth services nonprofit. Biketopia provides bicycle education and full repair services, while also offering both employment and recreational opportunities for local youth.
Last week I took the train to the East Bay to visit the shop and meet with Zach Cohen, Biketopia’s founder. We discussed everything from the inevitable rise of alternative economic systems, such as collectives and cooperatives, sharing and the possibility of non-monetary structures, to more sustainable localized production and Charles Eisenstein’s seminal new book, “Sacred Economics: Money, Gift & Society in the Age of Transition”.
Zach told me that he had never ridden a bicycle regularly before moving from Florida to the Bay Area a few years ago. He explained that the bike shop cooperative model allowed him to merge many of his varied passions for sustainability issues, direct action and transitional economics all together:
“I believe the most important form of activism is the creation of alternatives to the failing establishment. Biketopia’s goal is to address diverse social problems with one comprehensive model that builds community while implementing solutions to youth homelessness, climate change, interest based money, and public health.”
Even though the bike cooperative has been open less than a month, the tiny shop is already beginning to thrive. They have received a great deal of support and help from the community, and are making many strong connections with local businesses. Zach shared some of the details of what the cooperative is working on, as well as their most recent generous gift:
“We just got a massive donation of large quantities of every single necessary bicycle component. It was from the estate of a recently deceased bike collector, and we inventoried the parts at $7,500. It was a pretty random stroke of luck, the beneficiary of the estate just happened to see our name on craigslist and gave us a call asking if we wanted it.
We’re also now working with new contacts at the Berkeley Police Department and the city office of economic development to scale up our programs and are applying for our first grant of $45,000.”
Time Bank Currency
In addition to finding good uses for recycled bike parts, and helping people learn how to properly maintain their own bicycle, Biketopia also encourages alternative economic models and time share currency. Locals can participate in work/trade exchanges or volunteer; the shop has also been approved as a member of the BACE Timebank, and has been working with NOBAWC (pronounced No Boss), the Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives.
The new Berkeley bike cooperative offers mechanics classes every month from 12:00p-2:00p Saturday and Sunday, before regular business hours. Biketopia is committed to educating and empowering local residents to build, maintain, and ride bicycles, as well as also helping to teach useful life skills and vocational training to young people in need.
The cooperative welcomes your bicycle repair business, as well as donations of tools, money, bikes and other needed resources.
Biketopia Hours for Repairs:
Mon, Tues, Thurs: 6:00pm – 8:30pm
Sat, Sun: 2:00pm-6:00pm
For more information please email: