Bikes Not Bombs at 30: Still True to our Name, Still True to our Mission

News released on: 
Dec 11th, 2014

BNB Founder Carl Kurz in Nicaragua 198530 years ago, Bikes Not Bombs brought bicycles to Nicaragua in support of the Nicaraguan people's movement and their reforms to redistribute wealth and create a more equitable and just society. Bikes Not Bombs' act of solidarity with the people of Nicaragua was also an act of protest in opposition to US financial and military support to the counter-revolution in Nicaragua, which resulted in years of war, extensive human rights violations and the eventual shift of power to a neoliberal government serving US interests.

Bikes Not Bombs continues to use bicycles to create a more equitable and just society in Boston and around the world, and today our communities are facing “bombs” that are rooted in the same systems of oppression we confronted at the time of our founding. The bombs of racism, economic inequality, gender-based oppression, militarization, mass incarceration and the climate crisis, are exploding across our communities. Corporations like Monsanto, Koch Industries, Lockheed Martin and Chevron are amassing huge profits directly from the injustice and environmental destruction of these bombs, and are protected by the politicians they fund, the media outlets they own and the legal system that defends capitalist interests, white supremacy and patriarchy.

On a daily basis, youth of color that participate in our Youth Programs experience injustice – when looking for jobs, when being racially profiled by the police, when being forced out of their communities by gentrification, when not being able to afford healthy non-GMO food, when trying to access basic opportunities and afford transportation, and when struggling to breathe due to asthma. BNB international partners are bearing the unjust political, economic and environmental costs of neocolonialism – when facing extreme economic inequality, when fighting for land and resource rights against extraction and pollution by transnational corporations, when experiencing shortages of food and water due to climate change, when trying to access basic resources and afford transportation, and when struggling for essential healthcare and peace.

These struggles are all connected, and we have the power to transform them. We are strong, resilient and ever-more organized. Bikes Not Bombs is overcoming these “bombs” with community power, with shipping containers filled with bicycles and tools, with youth leadership and youth jobs, with international solidarity, with our Earn-A-Bike after-school program where young people gain mechanics skills and urban riding skills, with Chain Reaction our youth-run mobile bike shop bringing the bike shop to the community, with international mechanics trainings and bicycle enterprise development, with Bicyclists Organizing for Community Action (BOCA) offering youth the tools to change their community, with the World Bicycle Forum building the international network of bicycle organizations, with Unity Rides engaging youth around justice and equity issues of biking in Boston, with Bike-In our open-mechanics space for youth, with the Bike Shop refurbishing bikes for the community, with Vocational Education offering advanced mechanics training to youth, with bicimáquinas / bicycle-powered machines, with the Youth Bike Summit building the movement of youth bike activists across the country, and with long-term bicycle infrastructure and resilient bicycle economies around the world.

Bicycles are both a tool and a solution. They facilitate access to resources, create sustainable communities, and build community power. Bikes Not Bombs uses bicycles to offer opportunity, share knowledge and connect communities so that people can survive and thrive. Through Bikes Not Bombs, we share our struggles, figure out how to make a difference and find our unity. Together we are a movement that can transform the systems of oppression to build an equitable and just society. Together we can be the change we seek.

Authors David & ModestoBy Modesto Sanchez, Youth Educator and David Branigan, International Programs Director