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The University of Texas at San Antonio is converting an old information booth into the Tito Bradshaw Bicycle Repair Shop, named after the late bicyclist-community leader. The opening is scheduled for Sept. 24.
Lani May, UTSA’s director of sustainability who also works with Vision Zero, a city initiative to reduce traffic-related deaths, said the idea for the bike shop was twofold. She wanted to give students an accessible place to fix their bikes, an idea spurred on by a rash of broken bicycles crowding campus bike racks, and also create a landmark on the bike trails that are currently being constructed across the campus.
Plans for the bike shop were already in the works when May heard about Bradshaw’s death in April. Bradshaw, a community activist and the owner of the Bottom Bracket Bicycle Shop, was killed after being struck by a suspected drunk driver car on Houston Street near downtown. Bradshaw’s death prompted meetings, rallies and group rides to bring awareness to improving bike safety in San Antonio. May said Bradshaw and UTSA’s Office of Sustainability, the entity leading the charge for the bike shop and trails, had similar goals of reducing car use while creating a safer place for cyclists.
“We wanted to name it after somebody who meant something about bicycling, community advocacy, improving walkability,” May said. “We understood that he was about pulling together the community and neighborhood, and so I suggested it to the [UTSA] communications department. It was part of the process that we needed to go through to find someone that would highlight increasing bikeability on campus.”
The repair shop is a self-serve station where riders can use tubes, lubricants, and an array of tools to make small repairs on their bikes. The tools and initial costs are under $6,000. Funding comes from the grants awarded by UTSA President Taylor Eighmy’s strategic plan on sustainability. The sustainability office hopes it also will serve as a gathering spot for students. Future costs will be funded by the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant.
On Wednesday, volunteers will lay an 8-foot gravel trail. The path connects a sidewalk from the parking lot at Brackenridge through the Paseo Verde, a green space UTSA is developing. It’s approximately 300 feet long, ends in the inner part of the campus, and is part of a larger trail from UTSA Boulevard.
Justin Malone, an urban planning graduate student working on the trail project, said he has seen a need for the bike repair shop and increased bike accessibility.
“UTSA is in this transition with many possibilities for growth, aside from being car-centric,” Malone said. “The demand is really visible with the bike racks on campus and the paths that students have created in the grass because they are not looking to take the concrete routes. The connectivity is really important.”
Connectivity was a theme of Bradshaw’s advocacy. Henry Lee Parrilla was Bradshaw’s friend for about 10 years and worked with him on organizing the bicycle rides and the social club. Parrilla has been asked to speak at the opening of UTSA’s repair shop. He said that Bradshaw’s work inspired him because he built a Bottom Bracket into a successful business and community.
“[The social club] started out of the grassroots, and when he opened the bike shop I thought that was just even more incredible,” Parrilla said. “He was really motivated and had a vision. He worked really hard at creating what this community needed.”