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
Bike Snob Eben Weiss in New York City. Screenshot via Vimeo.
I got off the train and started to jog. I was in Inwood at the very northern end of Manhattan and I was late for my meeting. Given that the man I was holding up has made his name as a scathing critic, I was a little worried. But when I arrived at the Indian Road Cafe, Eben Weiss greeted me at the door and quickly forgave me when he found out I was visiting from a subwayless city. As we waited for our waitress, Weiss explained that the park across the street from us is supposedly where the Dutch bought Manhattan from the Lenape Indians and that the confluence of the Harlem and Hudson Rivers was just around under the Henry Hudson bridge into the Bronx.
Weiss is, of course, Bike Snob NYC. He launched the wildly popular blog in 2007 as an anonymous and acerbic cultural critic, picking apart the booming fixed gear fad, the racing world, and the bike industry with daily posts. In 2010, as a lead up to the publication of his first book, Weiss came out to the world as the Snob. At the time, people wondered if the unveiling would mean the end of the blog. But five years and another two books later, Weiss is still posting daily as one of the most vocal cycling world pundits. Over the course of our lengthy lunch, we talked about the start of his blogging career, his evolution as a bike advocate, the oddities of bike world celebrity, becoming pals with Lance Armstrong, and much more.
Posted in Cycling Media, Interviews
Tagged bike blog, bike snob nyc, BSNYC, eben weiss, enlightened cyclist, fixed gear fad, indignity of bike communiting, janette sadik khan, lance armstrong, new york bike renessaince, new york city bike advocacy, new york city cycling
Photo by Elly Blue.
Noah Budnick is Deputy Director of Transportation Alternatives, a New York City bicycling, walking, and public transit advocacy group. TransAlt is regarded as one of the leading-edge transportation advocacy groups in the United States and Noah is right in the mix organizing and educating New York residents, pushing for policy and infrastructure reform, and more. Part one of this two-part interview covered Noah’s personal attraction to cycling, views on transportation options, and more. Part two picks up with New York City’s major bike infrastructure overhaul and its impact on ridership, how to increasing biking nationwide, and the anti-bike federal transportation bill.
Speaking at the Los Angeles Bike Summit. Photo by flickr user Gary Rides Bikes
Noah Budnick is Deputy Director of Transportation Alternatives, a New York City bicycling, walking, and public transit advocacy group. TransAlt is regarded as one of the leading-edge transportation advocacy groups in the United States and Noah is right in the mix organizing and educating New York residents, pushing for policy and infrastructure reform, and more. In part one of this two part interview, Noah discusses his early love affair with bikes, his views on the severe crash that hospitalized him in 2005 and his eventual recovery and return to bicycling, his appreciation for transportation options, and more.
When did you first get into bikes? Were you one of those kids who learned to ride and never stopped or did bikes come later?
I rode growing up in Vermont. Low traffic dirt roads, potholes to “jump,” lots of coaster brake skids. Fun.
I don’t think my experience growing up and riding is that different from most people. In fact, if you’re the type of person who rides a lot and is really into bikes and doesn’t think there’s much more to say about biking, then I’m writing this for you. I’m writing this for me too, to see what kind of new ideas come out, what new ways there are to talk about ideas, how people will react to them and then what we can do with it all.