In the winter of 2000, space was allotted in the Rhizome Collective warehouse to build a not for profit bike shop. Over time donated bicycles and bicycle parts were donated to the shop, sparking discussion on what to do with the contributions.
During this time, attention was brought to the Mexico-United States border, only 3 hours from Austin, where assembly plant workers in Mexico spent at least 15% of their earnings on transportation.
The Comite Fronterizo de Obrer@s (CFO), a grassroots labor and human rights organization located in Piedras Negras, Mexico expressed a need for autonomous transportation. In the spring of 2001, a 20 person delegation, including circus performers, artists, activists, bike enthusiasts, and mechanics set out for the border, carrying more than 80 bicycles, a complete bike tool set, circus performances, puppet shows and visual arts. It was at this point that we learned first hand that the policies of “free trade” are made for corporations, not for small non-profit groups and people. At the border, we were asked to pay 700 dollars in import taxes to get the bikes across the border. Although the bikes were not for sale, we had to be creative in order to cross the bikes into Mexico without paying unaffordable taxes. With the help of numerous volunteers from both sides of the border, we spent the entire day unloading the large trailer and riding each individual bike across the border for the price of $0.25, thus meriting the name of our organization
Over the years we have performed puppet shows, comic illustrations, banners, workshops and circus shows to accompany our bike shipments and create dialogue about the political, environmental and social issues which inspire our work.