Bikes Across Borders: Transcending the invisible line

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A group of bikers from the social organization Bikes Across Borders. Photo courtesy of Bikes Across Borders.
Multimedia package by Caroline Hall, Isabella Bejar and Fatima Puri
AUSTIN—“It’s not about charity, it’s about solidarity,” Joshua Collier said.

Collier, a veteran rider for the organization Bikes Across Borders, is referring to the organization’s yearly bike ride from Texas to Mexico, at the end of which the ride participants donate their bikes to local Mexican citizens. Bikes Across Borders does this to fulfill their mission of annual migration to Mexico for the purpose of developing relationships of solidarity and donating recycled bikes.

“In charity, a person is in a place of power, whereas we are donating to equals and also learning so much in the process from our neighbors in Mexico,” Collier said.

This May, Bikes Across Borders will make their 16th annual trip to Mexico since the organization’s establishment in 2000. Starting in Austin, the group of riders, which has traditionally ranged from as few as eight people to as many as 35, travel on recycled bikes through Texas and across the Mexican border, camping along the way.

“I don’t want us to look like we’re locust descending on a place; I want it to look like we’re butterflies migrating through.” Katie Jo Dixon, an original member of Bikes Across Borders, said. “Our intention is to make an impact with our presence in the communities we are passing through.”

Stopping and camping in various Texas communities, which includes the cities of Fredericksburg, Kerrville, Hunt, Leakey and Del Rio, gives Bikes Across Borders the opportunity to spread word of their mission.

“We talk with the communities we stay in about the movement and establish a community connection,” Dixon said.

Another aspect of the ride important to the organization is that all bikes that are used for the ride are donated and are made from recycled bikes and bike parts.

“Bikes are refurbished or made form scratch by the frame at Yellow Bike Project,” Collier said.

Located in East Austin, Yellow Bike Project is a shop open free to the public, in which anyone can come and fix up or rebuild a bike from recycled bike parts.

“We have a lot of charities that come in and fix bikes to donate,” Pete Wall, a Yellow Bike Project employee, said. “Bikes Across Borders is one of the organizations that regularly uses our facilities and parts to fix bikes for donation.”

A Bikes Across Borders member working on her bicycle for the upcoming bike ride from Texas to Mexico. Photo courtesy of Bikes Across Borders.

A Bikes Across Borders member working on her bicycle for the upcoming bike ride from Texas to Mexico.
Photo courtesy of Bikes Across Borders.

Since 2000, Bikes Across Borders has donated over 700 of these recycled bikes to various communities in Mexico and Latin America, through the annual rides as well as bike delivery caravans. The bikes have a large impact on their recipients as they provide free transportation that is usually unavailable in these areas of Mexico, said the organization.

“The bikes are given to Mexican factory workers for transportation to and from work,” Collier said. “Without the bikes, these workers are largely forced to use a huge percentage of their paycheck to pay for the high bus fare required to get to their factory jobs.”

Bikes Across Borders is currently gearing up for its sixteenth ride to Mexico this May and will donate even more bikes to workers in need. The organization said it is always accepting new participants, regardless of cycling experience.

“If anyone wants to join the ride, they should do it,” Dixon said. “We’re all about do it yourself, keep it simple and have a good time.”

 

“I don’t want us to look like we’re locust descending on a place; I want it to look like we’re butterflies migrating through.”

 

Social Media

Bikes Across Borders Facebook
Yellow Bike Project Facebook

 

Photo Gallery

Photos courtesy of BXB


Interactive map of the Bikes Across Borders route from Texas to the Mexican border

View route map for Bikes Across Borders Route on plotaroute.com

 

BXB: The Who and The Why


Learn about two people who will be taking the yearly ride with Bikes Across Borders. Juan Belman heard about the trip through a friend and will start training soon for the long trek to Mexico. Joshua Collier is a veteran rider who recently got back from a cycling trip through South America and looks forward to meeting the new cyclists in the coming weeks.
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