Cyclist(s) of the Month: The Neistat Brothers
Van & Casey Neistat are film making brothers from NYC who specialize in short subject videos. They are also cyclists, and as such, bikes have played an integral part in three of their more famous shorts: "Yogurt vs. Gasoline", "Holland Tunnel" and "Bike Thief," the last of which features the duo blatantly stealing bikes on the street with tools like a hammer and crowbar - yet passerby and police do nothing to stop them.
StreetFilms got to speak with them for a few moments at their offices about their works and views on transportation in NYC. They have made hundreds films, most are available on their site www.neistat.com
Speaker: [00:04] So tell me your name and what do you guys do for a living?
Van Neistat: [00:06] My name’s Van Neistat and I’m a filmmaker.
Casey Neistat: [00:08] Casey, I’m Van’s brother.
Van Neistat: [00:15] Well I was listening to the radio, 1010WINZ, and they do the traffic report every like ten minutes, and they said there was a 35 minute delay in the Holland Tunnel and I’d… I think I’d just started riding my bike in the city and I knew that the tunnel was about a mile and a half long and that we could do it in ten minutes at the most. And then I went through it, it took five. Over a long enough period of time the bicycle is definitely the fastest mode of transportation in New York. I ride a motorcycle too, and you can get from point A to point B faster.
Speaker: [00:47] In your Yoghurt Vs Gasoline…
Van Neistat: [00:49] Yeah.
Speaker: [00:49] Tell me a little bit about that.
Van Neistat: [00:50] So I don’t know where the idea came from, but I think Casey had just gotten a new motorcycle and the race was can a bicycle beat a motorcycle over the course of like 100 blocks in the city. And we just did it one morning during rush hour so the bicycle would have a chance, and I won on the bicycle by like ten minutes.
Casey Neistat: [01:14] This is as fast as we could go. Like I was on the motorcycle and it was just like we were stuck in Midtown traffic, there’s nothing you could fucking do, you’re stuck in Midtown traffic. This… even though I was on a motorcycle, I could get in between some of the cars, you are just stuck. I ride the bike cos it’s the only way to get me from my apartment to this office without dealing with anyone. I don’t have to go through turnstile, I don’t have to buy a car, I don’t have to hail a cab, I don’t do anything except for get on my bike and ride here.
Van Neistat: [01:45] And I think the reason most people don’t do it is the security issue. I just wish the police were more concerned with securing bicycles.
Casey Neistat: [01:55] And the problem isn’t with the thieves, thieves will always exist, they always have. It’s the… it’s the way in my experience the police respond to it. If you walk into a police station, say my bicycle’s been stolen, you get laughed out the door. They’ll make the report or do whatever, but there’s no effort made. And that’s that movie Bike Thief is about. I mean we were literally stealing bikes in public with the most like obnoxious tools we could possibly use, like the most conspicuous tools we could ever use. But the irony of that film was that I was a block and a half away with the zoom lens filming Van stealing a bike, stealing his own bike, and the police literally went by him and come over to me and asked me what I’m filming for, why I’m filming, why I have a camera. And they say you can’t film here. And he’s literally stealing a bike. And for all intents and purposes, he’s breaking through a lock and taking a bike.
Speaker: [02:49] What kind of inspired you guys to like start doing film and dealing with this issue?
Van Neistat: [02:53] Just anger. It’s all we got, you know? It’s all we got. You get frustrated, what are you supposed to do? Bitch about it or kind of show what’s going on. I think that’s what it was for me.
Speaker: [03:03] Did you get a lot of good response from them? Like [unintelligible 03:05] support?
Van Neistat: [03:06] Yeah, yeah.
Casey Neistat: [03:07] It’s a way to communicate something. Like we’ve told the story we’re telling you right now, all these stories to so many people. When you ride a bike there’s always a bike story to tell. But like we’re making that movie about bike thieves, bike thieves, it’s a way for everybody to be able to see exactly what we’re talking about.
Van Neistat: [03:23] Like nobody cares about bicyclists really. I mean that’s what it feels like. The laws and the ways the streets are set up are not to protect bicyclists.
[03:31] And the city was built around cars and that’s the way it is.
I think cars are the problem. I think what Bloomberg’s trying
to do with taxing cars in the city is brilliant. The problem it’s…
it’s when you see one person in a car, that’s like the significant
percentage of people are commuters that they drive all the way into
the city. And that’s okay, that has to happen, but they should pay
for that. They should be paying a lot of money for that.
And then that money should, you know, that money should come round,
make it easier for us.