Clarence Eckerson Jr. is founder of Street Films. Photo courtesy Clarence Eckerson Jr.
I’m pretty sure my introduction to Street Films was “Hal Grades Your Bike Locking.” In it, a brash, dread-headed bike mechanic named Hal Ruzal walks around New York City grading people’s lock jobs (mostly Fs) and explaining how they could do better. The point was not to show how dumb New Yorkers are about protecting their bikes. It was to educate people about the very real threat of bike theft. Education is the point of all of the nearly-500 Street Films that have been produced since its launch in 2007. They show the best of biking, walking, transit, and street design (and occasionally the worst) to help people learn improve their own communities and lives.
That Street Films is driven by positivity and a desire to educate is little surprise given how cheerful and positive its founder Clarence Eckerson Jr. is. Through the course of our phone interview, his answers were constantly punctuated by laughter. In between laughs, Eckerson told me about Street Films’ history, his life as a filmmaker and streets advocate, the critical intersection of advocacy and mass media, and much more.
Posted in Advocacy, Cycling Media, Interviews
Tagged aaron naparstek, bike advocacy, bike advocates, bogota, ciclovia, clarence eckerson jr, copenhagen, cycling films, gronigen bikes, mark gorton, new york city cycling, open streets, street films, streets advocacy, streetsblog
Brook Negussie on the University of Washington campus. Photos courtesy Brook Negussie.
This year’s national Youth Bike Summit kicked off with short, TED Talk-esq presentations by advocates, industry execs, a former Olympic track racer and others. After the polished professional speakers had given their spiels, a young man named Brook Negussie stepped up to the podium to share his own powerful story. A 19-year old freshman at University of Washington, Negussie has immigrated to SeaTac, Washington from Ethiopia when he was 9. When he was in high school he got involved with the Major Taylor Project, a program run by Cascade Bicycle Club that brings bike clubs to under-served schools in the Seattle area. The kids in Major Taylor learn bike repair skills, go on after school rides, participate in bigger ride events and races, and more. [Read The Bicycle Story’s interview with Major Taylor Project founder Ed Ewing.]
Speaking to the crowd of youth and adult advocates at the Summit, Negussie credited the Major Taylor Project for giving him the skills and motivation necessary to tackle any challenge. I sat down with Negussie at a coffee shop near the UW campus to learn more about his experience immigrating to the U.S., the role bikes have played in his life, Major Taylor’s impact and more.
Adventure Cycling Association’s Executive Director Jim Sayer.
As winter turns to spring and the weather starts airing on the side of nice, cyclists give in to powerful daydreams of summer adventures to come. Staff meeting bullet points are lost to fantasies about dry singletrack in remote forests. Dreadful morning commutes in the pouring rain are rationalized as preparation for that big ride marked on a distant page of the calendar. And now, more than ever, those summer cycling trips are taking the form of bike tours. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but the cycling world is experiencing an undeniable bike travel boom, from fully supported luxury rides to self-supported cross-country tours to family bike rides out to the local park for a night of camping. Nonprofit Adventure Cycling Association has played a role in that growth. For the past 43 years, ACA’s been mapping routes, leading tours, and advocating for better bike touring conditions in North America. Executive Director Jim Sayer has been at the helm for the past 10 years. I spoke to Sayers about ACA’s work, his love for cycling and bike travel, bike tourism advocacy, the huge economic impact of bike travel, and more.
Posted in Advocacy, Bike Touring, Interviews
Tagged aca, adventure cycling association, bike advocacy, bike overnight, bike touring, bikepacking, cross country bike tour, great divide, jim sayers, s240, us bike route 66
Amanda Carey atop the podium at the 2013 Trans-Sylvania Epic. Photo via Trans-Sylvania Epic.
Amanda Carey is Newton’s First Law personified. She started moving (and moving fast) a long time ago and seems incapable of stopping. Since college she’s been a Jackson Hole ski bum, land conservationist, bike and pedestrian advocate, professional mountain biker and cyclocross racer, coach, and Executive Director of a mountain bike advocacy nonprofit. Often times she was doing a few of those at any given time. As a pro mountain biker she focused her energy on 100-milers and multi-day stage racing, notching wins at the Breck Epic, Trans-Sylvania Epic, and Pisgah Stage Race and earning multiple National Ultra Endurance series overall titles. In December 2014 she started her new role as Executive Director of Mountain Bike the Tetons. It is perhaps unsurprising that we had lots to talk about. I spoke to Carey about her years as a professional racer, the appeal of endurance racing, her new life as a mountain bike advocate, the major access hurdles mountain bikers still face (and fat bikers are starting to face), and much more.
Posted in Advocacy, Interviews, Mountain Biking
Tagged amanda carey, breck epic, endurance mountain biking, IMBA, kenda, mountain bike advocacy, mountain bike the tetons, pisgah stage race, stans no tubes, teton mountain biking, tetons, trail access, trans-sylvania epic
Paul Steely White delivering thousands of letters to NYPD in 2011 demanding driver accountability. Photo via nag-brooklyn.org
New York is one of America’s most progressive bike cities. On one hand that makes perfect sense. As the biggest, fastest-paced city in the country it has always drawn forward-thinking, ambitious people; why not forward thinking, ambitious bike advocates? On the other, it’s kind of insane. New York has a sociopathic driving culture, a police force and political establishment historically apathetic to the idea that fatal crashes are anything but accidents, and millions of drivers, bicyclists, and walkers all vying for the same small space. Yet over the last decade, Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn have been remade into great places for biking and walking with protected bike lanes, pedestrian plazas, and more and the advocates at Transportation Alternatives (T.A.) have been there every step of the way.
Recently they’ve turned their attention to Vision Zero, a radical notion that traffic deaths in New York are completely preventable. Given that the city is still averaging between 200-300 fatal bike, pedestrian, and car crashes annually, they have a long way to go. But T.A. Executive Director Paul Steely White says the Vision Zero framework they’ve laid out can get them there if they can garner the political support and capital funding necessary. I spoke to White about his history in New York City advocacy, his role in one of America’s most influential advocacy organizations, the “golden years” of New York City bike advocacy, transforming transportation with Vision Zero, and much more.
Posted in Advocacy, Interviews
Tagged cycling in new york city, cycling in nyc, janette sadik khan, jon orcutt, mayor bloomberg cycling, mayor de blasio cycling, new york city dot, paul steely white, streetspac, t.a., trans alt nyc, transportation alternatives, vision zero