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Bike Cave fosters community, encourages alternative transportation

By Philip Hadley
University News Service
October 25, 2007

Nestled in a small garage on the corner of North and Vista, the Bike Cave stirs with activity as patrons and employees methodically click away at repairing their bicycles while engaging in casual conversation.

The location might be small, but business is big and often overflows outside the 170-square-foot space. Hundreds of tools, bicycle parts and tires line the walls.

August 31 marked the first official day of business for the community bike shop founded by Texas State University-San Marcos students Taylor Powell, international studies senior, and Matt Akins, nutrition and foods senior, both from Austin.

The shop is provided entirely free of charge to students and residents and offers both major and minor bicycle repair. Powell, clad in a grease-stained white T-shirt, said the idea for the shop has been several years in the making.

“We were talking about the university master plan two years ago and saw that there was a need for increased amenities for bicycles,” Powell said. “We thought that this would be a great resource for the San Marcos community to come and fix their bikes.”

The shop received funding from the university auxiliary services to promote alternative transportation. The founders have not only fostered a resource for the community, but also a culture. The bike shop is run with the help of several volunteers like Kara Sweidel, philosophy senior from Spring, who says she enjoys hanging out at the shop and making new friends.

“The most rewarding aspect of the Bike Cave is the community that it offers,” Sweidel said. “We like getting together to work on bikes, talk and hang out. I’ve made so many friends here.”

Sweidel participates in bike building classes provided by the Bike Cave. The class teaches participants building and repair techniques. Akins says the classes are free of charge and encourage people to repair unused bicycles.

“There are so many people here that have bikes, but they don’t know how to fix them when they break or want to spend money to fix them,” Akins said. “We thought that this would be a great way to encourage the use of auxiliary transportation.”

Both founders say their goal is to create a new two-wheeled community ethos.

“We want to change the culture of bicycling, and the way motorists and cyclists share the road,” Powell said. “We want to get more people on bikes and provide them with a service to get cheap bikes and free parts.”

Bicyclinginfo.org says that cycling has numerous health benefits including reduced risk of heart disease, stroke and improved quality of life.

“Cycling is great for mental health and it’s great for the environment,” Akins said. “It also reduces the number of vehicles on campus. More people should try cycling because when you cycle you see the world outside of a box.”

The Bike Cave is open Monday and Wednesday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Friday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Motorists beware: there is no parking at the Bike Cave for traditional four-wheeled vehicles. For more information visit www.thebikecave.org or contact Paul Hamilton, auxiliary services, at (512) 245-2585.