That's me above in a promo for bikeTV!
Many of you know that before I got heavily involved in what was to become Streetfilms, I produced a cable access show in New York City called bikeTV. We had a lot of fun and the main goal of the half hour weekly slot was to show New Yorkers how much fun it was to bike places in the city with friends, how much better biking could be and to cover the advocacy world (Transportation Alternatives, Time's Up, 5BBC, etc) and what they were promoting.
Recently, I took the time to finally upload some episodes from my work (and other contributors) to Vimeo and Youtube. It's quite amazing some of the work we did - usually trying to produce a new half hour show every month. I still have people come up to me and say they discovered biking through bikeTV!
So here are a few things I excepted and posted that I found intriguing for one reason or another. If you would like to explore full episodes, click here to go to a playlist on Youtube of about ten full episodes there. So much to see like the T.A. Century, bike riding in other cities like Portland, Seattle and Providence, folding bike rides the Bike Haiku Brothers, too much to list!
I'm a very, very lucky person to be able to meet important people trying to change our cities and hang out with them even for a few minutes. Mayor Mike McGinn is an awesome guy and I actually got to hang out with him for a few hours. Back when he was running for Seattle mayor in 2009, his website featured a few of our Streetfilms including "The Removal of the Embarcadero Highway" from San Francisco.
These days he is the host of a new podcast "You, Me, Us, Now with Mike McGinn" and last week he interviewed me. You should take a listen, there are some very entertaining bits as we talk about my life journey and especially the time I came to Seattle to bike with him to City Hall for a Streetfilm (around the 14 minute mark). It was such an easy going interview back and forth, certainly one of my favorites doing "press" for Streetfilms (or me).
Just click here to listen to the podcast on the MyNorthwest site.
And in case you haven't seen it, here is the fun 2010 Streetfilm when he was mayor of us biking to Seattle's City Hall one foggy morning. Most of the film is totally impromptu. I literally had no idea when I showed up at his house at 6 am to meet his family how jovial a guy he would be, where we were going to go, what we would see, if it would start raining (a little), and what he would want to chat about. As usual, trusting the energy of the world produced a great little film.
If you're like us, you're probably sick of the standard mainstream news media treatment of safety measures for pedestrians, bicyclists and - yes - drivers. Most times the coverage is sensational, often featuring a small group of really loud voices or annoying protesters claiming street safety measures are unnecessary, because, well because.
One topic nationwide that always generates that usual friction is speed cameras. Often going by the same playbook wherever you live, you'll hear common refrains that the tickets are a "cash grab" to "hardworking taxpayers" that are "unfair speed traps" which "infringe on our personal liberties" and "don't save lives." Some of these groups are even referred to as heroes and even destroy (yes, destroy!) hardware meant to keep people safe. You'll rarely find any of these stories take time to interview pro-camera community leaders or talk with someone who lost a loved one to speeding.
So we thought it'd be good to draw up a comic that makes it takes on the myth perpetuated that the poor, poor driver is so unfairly treated. Though our story takes place in New York City, many cities nationwide have some or all of the same limitations placed on their use.
Thus presenting our second Streetfilms Comic (although Treehugger has taken to calling them Street Comics) on Speed Camera Myths. And don't miss our first here on the #sneckdown phenomenon. Click the image below to see it in all it's larger glory.
A few days ago, amNY cobbled this truly cringeworthy list of "Worst Things About Bicyclists in New York City". The clickbait appears as if it was quickly culled together just moments before publishing deadline. Many of the items are illogical, and as usual (and they know it) serves to amplify the war on cycling.
But take a gander. Some of the things on their list are completely idiotic like: "Those who don't wear helmets", "Citi Bikes and tourists" and "Spandex". Yes, those are actually three of them. There's even one: "They have no fear" featuring a rider riding up an avenue in what looks like about five inches of snow!
I can only give them support for "They ride on the sidewalk", yes we certainly shouldn't. And also "They go too fast in the park", which I would qualify as times when parks are heavily-populated on weekends/holidays/etc in the afternoons. But if cyclists are trying to avoid crowds and ride respectfully, they have a right to get a workout in the park as much as anyone.
I've waited for amNY to do their journalistic due diligence and give us the opposite list regarding drivers. I suspect one isn't coming, so I came up with my own "list".
They Kill People
— Amy Cohen (@amylcohen) July 13, 2015
They Kill People
— Gothamist (@Gothamist) May 10, 2016
They Kill People
NBC New York publishes an article about a fatal collision in which 1 pedestrian dies. No use of the word "driver." http://t.co/52TqHXeuoF
— Second Ave. Sagas (@2AvSagas) October 12, 2015
They Kill People
— Eric Adams (@BPEricAdams) April 24, 2016
They Kill People (more…)
The 1968 "Playstreets" video above just blows my mind - and probably will yours if you love open streets and ciclovias. I had no idea PAL (the Police Athletic League) was closing down streets/blocks in New York City for kids for so long. In fact since 1914, over one hundred years ago!
I found it while looking thru the Prelinger Archives which has made over 6600 vintage mini-documentaries, news reels and random works free to use by the public. There's so much history to peruse. I re-edited the "Playstreets" to under 3 minutes and added a bit of Streetfilms-style music to make it more swift & modern.
But really, some of the archives can be sad and stark. For example, check out this victim blaming 10 minute short produced to air in schools titled "The ABC's of Walking Wisely (1959), an attempt to cleverly "educate" children by using the letters of the alphabet to demonize walking behaviors. Never once in the film does the female narrator talk about the responsibility of drivers, instead choosing to call school kids insulting names while championing, "Don't be a J-Walker, be an A-Walker". I trimmed this down to several cringeworthy moments you'll be aghast by including the narrator saying, "show consideration for the drivers - and be safe yourself." I'll add: there are several moments where it looks like the producers dangerously put the children in potential harm filming around cars. Oh yeah, definitely watch.
There are dozens of transportation films I found in Prelinger sponsored by (who else?) car companies pushing the idea of how wonderful the modern conveniences of the car are. Some are somewhat harmless like fun family car vacations but others push highway building, parking and the oil industry showing how the propaganda-filled 1950s set in motion some awful transportation policies.
And we are still recovering from the auto's invasion of our cities. "Give Yourself the Green Light" (1954) is a half hour bonanza chock-filled with moments that will make you groan, and likely, get depressed. I selected about 4 minutes filled with items I found particularly egregious. You'll see: a frustrated Miss America searching in vain for parking, a narrator saying "the best investment a town can make is parking" plus some vintage highway footage on the Gowanus Expressway and BQE Brooklyn Heights where the script unbelievably notes that these are structures which solved transportation problems "without disturbing life below." (Yeah anyone seen Sunset Park under the elevated highway?)
You'll find full-length copies of "Give Yourself the Green Light"on Youtube if your interest is piqued and you want to consume the full film. But I fully encourage you to browse and use the Prelinger Archives. I watched 100s of them this past week. So much fun.