Recyclistas beginnings coincided with a growing community bicycle movement in North America that drew inspiration from the international Bikes Not Bombs organization. Bikes Not Bombs was originally dedicated to providing sustainable, human-powered transportation to communities in developing countries by setting up in those countries local community bicycle maintenance spaces and training local bike mechanics. Similar needs were identified within the US & Canada and community bicycle education organizations emerged in larger inner cities.
Early community bicycle education organizations had ambitious visions of addressing many social issues using bikes as a tool to create social change and a pedal-powered future. Skill development for low income people was a particular focus. Recyclistas has maintained this direction focusing on providing affordable educational opportunities and used bicycles and parts.
Recyclistas was founded in 2003 by Milenkovitch 86, Ryan Harris and Marcella Obdrzalek. Milenkovitch and Ryan learned bike mechanics at a community bicycle education centre called BICAS in Tuscon, Arizona before bringing their inspiration, commitment and great ideas to Vancouver Island. Marcella found the perfect location on the corner of the Galloping Goose and Lochside trails and provided the extra motivation to get the shop up and running.
The cycling movement has changed quite rapidly over the last decade. In the earlier days, it seemed like the shop was on the fringes. There is now considerable worldwide effort to promote cycling as a legitimate form of public transportation. Many cities have prioritized cycling, developed cycling infrastructure and have worked to make it easier and safer to ride a bicycle.
Recyclistas is now situated in a new social context where the bicycle is becoming more mainstream. Recyclistas aims to work with people across social divisions and sectors in innovative ways to maximize its triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. Enterprising people and local businesses are an important aspect of building resilient communities. Recyclistas is making a difference in its own homegrown way and contributing to creating a vibrant and healthy community. There are many reasons to be excited about the future.