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Posts tagged "Hal Ruzal"

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Comedy as Transportation Advocacy: Fun Streetfilms to Employ

As you can see above, we just had some pretty huge numbers with our Peatónito production, following the masked superhero around New York City filming him protecting pedestrians from bad car drivers in the crosswalks. It just got me thinking: over the years we have used humor quite a bit (though not as much as I always want to) to make our advocacy beliefs stronger, to engage the public and to educate the general population about transportation.

Below is a nice curated list of our best work. Hopefully it will get those of you who may be pondering ways to get the attention of your community that viral comedy/parody done right, can yield results - sometimes better than years of hard work.

As many of you already know, we got so, so lucky to get a chance to work with Kate McKinnon, the funniest current cast member of Saturday Night Live and now segueing into a Hollywood megastar. We did a series of Streetfilms featuring her as Veronica Moss, an auto lobbyist fighting for the rights of car owners in D.C. Here we placed her in the midst of the recently made car-free Times Square to offer her thoughts. One of the favorites on our site.

Working with established groups is a great thing. The Riders Alliance in New York City was conducting campaigns trying to get New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to agree to fully fund the MTA capital plan for subways, buses and commuter rail. We hatched a great idea: get a cardboard cut out of the Governor and have him actually ride the trains and interact with customers. Eventually thanks to the work of probably a dozen groups he agreed to fund it (though update: he still has not actually dedicated the money!)

I used to put myself out there to try to get attention. When New York City installed its first protected bike lane under Janette Sadik-Khan we wanted to highlight it in a great way different than the rest of the press. This was the result.  Believe me, just about every group of advocates have a class clown or humorous spokesperson that you can put on camera to do the same. (Though this is also coming from someone once wore a Sasquatch costume to explain traffic calming.)

A lot of people love our four Streetfilms featuring the hysterical, but critical Hal Ruzal from Bicycle Habitat showing you the dangers of locking your bike improperly. The numbers on these popular videos are always so high, we can't go too long without asking him back to do another one. 2016?

Finally, sometimes you can twist the ridiculousness of what city agencies and polices are and show how absurd they really are. For example, in NYC we have about a dozen or so "Gridlock Alert" days around the holidays. These do mostly nothing. But you can go out and have some fun with them as Mark Gorton, one of our biggest funders and supporters, shows during this hilarious poke that can easily be duplicated in your city.

We have had plenty of fun on Streetfilms. I recommend exploring more to find ways to make shorts that are fun and sometimes ridiculously fun!

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Hal Grades Your Bike Locking 2014

It's hard to believe, but it's been nearly five years since we last went traipsing around SoHo grading people's bike locking with Hal Ruzal from Bicycle Habitat. So it was time for the next chapter with the mechanic who wears pink-purple socks, admonishing you about how to lock your wheels, frame, and seat correctly.

The process is simple: Hal and I spend about an hour walking around, and whatever happens, I try to capture it on the fly. (Which is harder than it sounds.)  This time it led to quite a few surprises and -- as usual -- many hilarious moments.  Among other things, we learned that Hal has become an international celebrity. And wait until you see the scenes at a Citi Bike station. Let's just say Hal was impressed.

The previous three Streetfilms in the "Hal Grades Your Bike Locking" series have received at least 300,000 plays.  Here they are for your viewing pleasure.

2003: Hal Grades Your Bike Locking (originally from bikeTV)
2008: Hal & Kerri Grade Your Bike Locking
2009: Hal Grades Your Bike Locking 3: The Final Warning

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Streetfilms Shorties: Hal Teaser, GoPro Citi bike Test, Guadalajara’s Plazas


Sometimes I have bits of video or short stories that don't amount to a full on Streetfilm, but I want to get them out in the world anyway. On our Vimeo account you'll often see some of these thrown up with little fanfare, most with only a few hundred plays. But every once and a while I'll  get one with thousands of views.

So I wanted to post some of them here for your enjoyment. The first one (above) is a fun excerpt from our next installment of "Hal Grades Your Bike Locking" which features George Hahn and Hal discussing bike theft.

The next one shows what happens when you finally get a GoPro and test it out. I decided to take Citi bike jaunt down Lexington Avenue to see how it handles.  It looks a little scary, but my goal was to attempt to do a sort of PSA about legally riding while moving my head as little as possible. It's your call whether or not it worked.


And finally, a few weeks ago I realized I never posted this Guadalajara Streetfilms Shortie I weaved together in 2011 while at the Houston airport waiting for my connecting flight home!

While I was in Guadalajara, I was amazed by the richness and network of their car-free public plazas and streets. Especially since there was a tremendous amount of the city that was inrcedibly dangerous to walk or bike - or even drive! Even when you had the walk signal you needed to be on high alert!

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NYC Bike Month Montage (2010)

Wanna see a slice of the glorious NYC bike month that was?  There were dozens of great May events from Bike to Work Day in the Bronx to the David Bowie Dance Ride in Manhattan to Bike to School Day at MS51 in Brooklyn. Of course we couldn't get to all of them, but we managed to drop by quite a few extravaganzas.

In this funky montage wrap-up you'll see many special guest stars including Hal Ruzal, Randy "The Ethicist" Cohen, Mary Beth Kelly, and Eben "Bike Snob" Weiss, just to pick out some of the dozens of faces.  But none so special as an appearance by our very good purple friend - Zozo, who you'll get to see out scooting on his bike!

And for heaven's sake, don't miss the "bike rockstar montage" near the end.  We certainly have a lot of hip cyclists in NYC.

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Hal Grades Your Bike Locking 3: The Final Warning!

It's Bike Month - which means there are scads of neophytes out there nationwide giving cycling a try.  Oh goody!  But, oh baddy - it also means more improper locking - and we all know there are predators just licking their chops at the thought of stealing all or part of your bike. So we want to do all we can to preach good locking technique and thwart thieves.

We need a sage in these times to remind us how easy it is to roll your bike.  Once again enter the immortal, Bicycle Habitat mechanic Hal Ruzal to give us the straight dope in what he's calling "your final warning" in this last chapter of our exclusive trilogy.  Let's hope the third time is a charm!

This time around Hal's not only grading bike locking ability of anonymous locker-uppers, but he also shows you how he secures his bike so you too can score an "A" (or at least have a decent shot at an A- or B+.)  And if you love the humorous anecdotes and musings here, don't miss our first two chapters:  "Hal Grades Your Bike Locking" and "Hal (and Kerri) Grade Your Bike Locking".

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Hal (and Kerri) Grade Your Bike Locking

Nearly five years ago, legendary bike mechanic Hal Ruzal and I walked the streets surrounding Bicycle Habitat and graded the bike locking ability of New Yorkers - producing many humorous and enlightening anecdotes. The resulting video aired frequently on bikeTV and at many festivals, and because of it - Hal is still frequently asked by complete strangers to judge their bike locking.

I always endeavored doing another, but as with most sequels you need a new wrinkle. This time we thought we'd give Hal some company and invited former Recycle a Bicycle mechanic Kerri Martin (and founder of The Bike Church in Asbury Park, NJ) to weigh in with her expertise.

Again, bikes on the streets of SoHo provide lots of fodder for laughs and lessons to learn.We didn't plan to but we walked the same loop and even used the same one-hour time frame. The results? The grades were a little better than five years ago. Sure, still some bad locking out there, but many more people are now sporting multiple locks and better strategies! Good news, maybe we made a difference after all...

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David Byrne Celebrates NYC Bicycling in Style

Last night, I was one of 1200 lucky ticket holders attending "How New Yorkers Ride Bikes" a David Byrne presentation at Town Hall as part of the 2007 New Yorker Festival. Stuffed with laughs, entertainment, and bicycle inspiration, it was hard not to be psyched about the current state of cycling in NYC. In fact, my pyschedness level is off the charts!David Byrne yellow

Of course our MC for the night, Mr. Byrne, who has been using a bike for transportation for 30 years, pedaled to the theater. In fact, the night started with helmet cam footage he shot as he biked thru Times Square to the venue. Some Byrne-musings which drew the most applause/ laughter as he navigated the entanglement of peds, cars, and street furniture included: "...once you get used to it, riding thru the city gives you a nice jolt of energy", "42nd Street would make a nice pedestrian mall", and probably the biggest laugh-getter, "if this was a bike lane, there would probably be a truck from New Jersey parked in it."

Mr. Byrne, dressed in black and sporting his cool taxi-yellow bike helmet (see our previous StreetFilm here) then rode onto the stage and locked up. Moments later Hal Ruzal, NYC bicycling icon and mechanic at Bicycle Habitat, emerged from behind a curtain to pick his lock with a variety of tools. Mr. Ruzal's advice on not getting your bike stolen? "Have a bicycle lock that is real expensive, and a bicycle that's really cheap." True dat.

Read more...

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Hal Grades Your Bike Locking

Since it's officially the first week of Bike Month, we resurrected this 2003 bikeTV classic that was my first work to gain worldwide noterity in the alternative transportation world.

We hit the streets of Soho with the help of Bicycle Habitat's most famous mechanic Hal Ruzal - who humorously grades the bike locking ability of New Yorkers. Sure he's harsh, but also damn funny while dispensing useful anecdotes from his many decades in the biz. Hopefully you'll learn how to keep your bike safe and avoid a failing grade.

Note: Make sure to catch the sequel!