BiciCoop, or the Bicycle Services’ Cooperative, is a joint co-op of work and consumption, dedicated to bicycle maintenance, repair and rent, as well as the sale of bike accessories (i.e., helmets and pedals) in order to achieve a safe bike use on campus. Their mission is to promote and increase the use of the bicycle by providing jobs, services, and activities to both the campus community and Mayagüez. They also promote bike riding as a way of transportation and cooperativism as a model of negotiation and sustainable development.
BiciCoop came to life between the years 2015 and 2016, when the UPRM Master Bicycle Plan, alongside members from the Ride a Bike association, came together to integrate all the sectors which support bike use. These sectors are known as the “Five E’s:” engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, evaluation and planning. The association currently counts with nine UPRM students as members of the directive, two of them being Luis Miguel Rivera Malavé, a fourth year Horticulture major, and Valeria Ortiz, a third year Animal Science major, who are president and vice-president respectively. According to Rivera Malavé, the American Cyclist League certifies those universities which support the cyclist movement by creating lanes specifically for bike riders and by providing bike repair stations and bike shops. BiciCoop’s goal is to achieve this certification, therefore making Colegio the first bike-friendly university in the Caribbean.
Just like any association, being a member of BiciCoop has its perks. Two of these bonuses are receiving a 15% discount in the co-op’s services and being able to work in the bike shop, which is located on the third floor terrace of the student center. “As a cooperative model, we’re trying to help each other out,” Rivera Malavé expressed. As long as you’re an 18-year-old or older UPRM student, alumni, or faculty member, you can become a member. With this initiative, one is both promoting bike riding as transportation, gaining professional experience and helping BiciCoop make Colegio a bike-friendly university.
BiciCoop is an example of how, little by little, people can make a difference. It’s promoting the safe and important use of the bicycle as, not only recreational, but a transportation vehicle. Reducing the use of cars and starting to ride your bike more often will create a positive impact in our campus, community, and our world. Just like Rivera Malavé said, “la vida es más bonita en bici.”
Make sure to check out their Facebook page for more updates on BiciCoop’s upcoming activities.