- Half the Road
The Bicycle Film Festival Womens Program at the 2014 Los Angeles stop of their tour had only two films: a short by local racer and former BFF producer, Jen Whalen, and the documentary ‘Half the Road.’ There seems to be a lack of women focused or directed films about biking out there, so perhaps it isn’t a surprise that the major take away is: gender bias in cycling is freakishly bad and geared towards silent acceptance. With 10+ years of riding, racing, organizing and advocating for bikes behind me, I was thrilled to see so many legendary female racers open up about their personal stories, lives and how the shameful lack of respect for women in professional cycling is unnecessary.
When the the film reviews for ‘Half the Road’ started getting published online, I agreed and felt defensive. Was it too long? Yes. Did it take an aggressive name calling stance towards the evil UCI officials/henchmen keeping women from opportunities or respect? Yup. The cinematography and production values could have been better too, but seriously? In telling the movie going audience that a movie is too long and negative, you’ve just killed off the audience that will be the most impressed by this movie: the ones who are not already super familiar with these issues and are more likely to have that “ah-ha” moment watching it.
For those of us tired of hearing how things are broken, it was actually really awesome to watch director Kathyrn Bertine point fingers at specific UCI officials, name names, cite specific discriminatory rules and respond to dismissals with epic stories of a forgotten women’s TdF, massive endurance events and the incredibly moving first hand story of Kristin Armstrong’s latest olympic gold medal. Bertine points out exactly how things can change. Is it biased? Absolutely. Now, it’s up to the audience to act on it and thankfully ‘Half the Road’ provides that roadmap.FRI APR 25 in SAN FRANCISCO, CA at Bicycle Film FestivalSUN APR 27 in NEWPORT BEACH, CA at the Newport Beach Film Festival 11:30amMON APR 28 in NEW HAVEN, CT at Rave North Haven 12 at 7:30pWED APR 30 in NEWPORT BEACH, CA at the Newport Beach Film Festival 8:15pmWED APR 30 in GRAND JUNCTION, CO at Carmike Seven at 7:30pmSAT MAY 3 in SILVER CITY, NM at the TOUR OF THE GILA / Besse-Forward campus auditorium, 7pmTUE MAY 6 in BALTIMORE, MD at the Landmark Harbor East at 7:30pmWED MAY 7 in BOISE, ID at Northgate Reel Theater at 7pmWED MAY 7 in SEATTLE, WA at Landmark Harvard Exit Theatre at 7:30pmTHUR MAY 8 in MEQUON, WI at Marcus North Shore Cinema at 7:30pmTUE MAY 13 in BOULDER, CO at Century Boulder 16 at 7:30pmCANADIAN PREMIERE! TUE MAY 13 in SASKATOON, SASK. at Broadway TheaterMON MAY 19 in BOCA RATON, FL at Cinemark Palace 20 7:30pmAUSTRALIAN PREMIERE! MON MAY 19 PERTH, AUSTRALIA Windsor Theater, 6:30pmTHUR MAY 22 in CHATTANOOGA, TN at Carmkike Majestik 12 6:30pmSUN MAY 25 in PORTLAND, OR at Hollywood Theater 7pmSUN-TUE JUNE 1-3 in ALBUQUERQUE, NM at the Guild TheaterTUE JUNE 3rd in CHICAGO, IL at AMC River East 7:30pm
SCOTLAND PREMIERE! MON JUNE 12 in EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND at Edinburgh Festival of BicyclesTUE JULY 15 in SALT LAKE CITY, UT at the Utah Film Center
- Women Take Center Stage at National Bike Summit
Photo by Heather Mayes GleasonLaura Solis of Bike New York and Ayesha McGowan of WE Bike NYC at the 2013 National Women’s Bicycling Forum.
The National Women’s Bicycling Forum at the 2014 National Bike Summit in Washington, DC, on Monday, March 3, 2014 was an inspiring success with 450+ registered participants and an amazing level of engagement. More than any other part of the summit, the Women’s Forum is an interesting framing point for where bicycling advocacy and transportation equality are right now.
“It’s important to women as a means and a metaphor in that it allows women to take themselves where they want to go … And learning about bike mechanics … because it teaches us that we can fix any problems that come up along the way.” – Liz Jose, founder of WE Bike NYC.
Speaking to several of the women from WE Bike NYC about the history of the 3-year-old Women’s Forum it was heartening to see how far we’ve come so quickly. In 2012, the first year the Women’s Forum was held, the feeling participants, organizers, and supporters shared was one of overcoming major hurdles so that it could exist at all. In 2013, the mood was jubilant and expansive. But, even before the 2014 summit began, there were already rumbles that segregating the Women’s Forum from the main Summit was no longer the way to move forward. Why not? Because the Women’s Forum had the most exciting, intellectually creative, and actively diverse sessions, speakers, and participants of the entire Summit. Clearly those are things that should be front and center in the national dialogue, not partitioned off from the main business at hand.
And that’s pretty exciting because it means that bicycling advocates in America, thanks to its’ pioneering women, are finally beginning to realize a diverse, inclusive movement. After all, it benefits no one to have women and minorities in a room all agreeing that women and minorities should be included. By including the women’s forum into the National Bike Summit – and making it financially accessible to grassroots leaders in the form of scholarships – we are so incredibly close to the dream of creating a uniquely American cycling culture. One that isn’t divided along the usual tribal lines but is uniting us for all the reasons we love bicycling in the first place.
From the opening plenary with female business, government, and advocacy leaders to the packed hall of pop-up shops run by female entrepreneurs and the six breakout sessions covering everything from education and storytelling to cultivating the all-powerful bike lobby, it was a non-stop marathon of women who refuse to wait for change. Even more impressive was the constant theme of generosity and empowerment. “This is how YOU can do it” seemed to be the unofficial theme behind all the talks and presentations, from Kidical Mass to media outreach, community development, and business strategy.
It’s also important to note how many men were there. Men who wanted to discover what innovations were happening in the women’s biking movement or who wanted to support their friends and colleagues. Turns out that the women’s biking movement is simply the American biking movement. It was such a delightful experience to go from a fancy lunch keynote with Terry O’Neill, President of National Organization of Women, to hearing the brilliant discussion moderated by Dr. Adonia Lugo with Senior Transportation Planner Dorothy Le and then head over to a session on Cultivating the All Powerful Bike Lobby moderated by SF Bike Coalition’s Executive Director Leah Shahum with a 100 percent female presenter line up.
Much of the credit for the successes in the women’s forum belongs to The League of American Bicyclists Communication Director, Carolyn Szczepanski, who organized and made possible so much of what happened at the Women’s Forum and the National Bike Summit. Another great reason to hire brilliant women to senior positions!
- The Backstory
So happy to see Carolyn Szczepanski’s profile of the last 10 (!) years of bicycle + culture projects get published in Momentum Magazine today. My favorite thing about press is that it’s like knowing you’ll get a present, but you never really know what it is until a bunch of your friends send you links or have a giant smile on their face while waving a magazine in the air.
(PSST: Also, it was super fun to shoot that image in downtown LA with the awesome Hal Bergman. I’m already thinking about what a gallery installation of his apocalyptic #bikeLA photos and stop motion pieces would look like…)
- Save Wolfpack Hustle’s #marathoncrash
- Call Eric Garcetti/ LA Mayor’s office and let him know that without Wolfpack Hustle thousands will still crash the L.A. Marathon; without control, safety checks or insurance. Save#marathoncrash 213.978.0600 firstname.lastname@example.org
While at the National Bike Summit in Washington DC, I learned from Don “Roadblock” Ward that the Wolfpack Marathon Crash Race, due to take place in only a few days – had receive a letter from the City of L.A.
(Wolfpack Marathon Crash Race) “is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment in county jail for a period not to exceed one year. You may incur liability for any costs related to City services deployed for an event held in violations of Section 41.20.”
Standing next to my co-workers from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and other LA bike advocates, we couldn’t help be a little shocked and wonder who was responsible for pulling the plug on an event that had been happening with the support of the LAPD and the wide acknowledgement of the City – while also being a transformative “cicLAvia” like experience awakening people to the wonders of being able to ride 26.2 miles through Los Angeles, car-free. So wonderful is the experience – for first time racers and first time recreational participants – that the event has encouraged a whole new generation of racers and urban bike racing.
Streetsblog LA (as usual) broke the news with an excellent story,
when the LA Times picked it up with their article, Popular pre-L.A. Marathon bike ride canceled after city permit snag
StreetsBlogLA then had some salient points on the LA Times article here.
LA Weekly followed that up with:
Indeed so much hype, lack of clarity and contention between the city’s questionable ‘tactics’ resulted in the LA Times going live with an open discussion on what might actually be happening:
While in DC – advocates from LA and nationally participated in a photo campaign to urge L.A. City to “Save Marathon Crash Race.”
What You Can Do (NOW!)
Call Eric Garcetti/ LA Mayor’s office and let him know that without Wolfpack Hustle thousands will still crash the L.A. Marathon; without control, safety checks or insurance. Save#marathoncrash 213.978.0600 email@example.com
- NYC 2005-2014: Time lapse into a bike & ped friendly city
NYC: Remember when it was impossible to imagine the city could ever be bicycle friendly? Like, just a few years ago? It’s pretty incredible to watch the transition happen – and so inspiring. If you can make complete streets there, you can make it anywhere…
- Changing the Cycle ESRBC
The East Side Riders (and their neighboring crew the Los Riders) are doing amazing things in Los Angeles. I was stoked to see this fun, inspiring video showing some of the great things happening in Watts. Check it out! Giovanni Moreno:
“During the 1992 L.A Riots negative images resulting from the chaos were propagated through news channels and viewed around the globe. Thereafter, the perception of the southern region of L.A, where South Central, Compton and Watts coexist, became tainted. Positive news rarely followed afterward, and when I witnessed positive events in my neighborhood, they went unmentioned in the news. The positive side of this region of L.A, I realized, hardly gets the attention it deserves.
Being a filmmaker born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, while studying Film & Television at UCLA, I made a promise to myself; my first film was going to show the good energies spreading in L.A. When I seen the positive impact East Side Riders Bike Club was making in their community since 2008 (Fighting diabetes, heart disease, feeding the homeless, and getting a diverse community involved by riding a bicycle), I knew this was it. For 4 months I biked with the team around L.A, meeting with different bicyclists from different areas, age groups, and ethnic backgrounds coming together united as one to ride a bike. It amazed me how we were all riding together to one rhythm under the sun. Every pedal we pushed seemed to take us further away from 1992… I just had to capture the movement.
Transforming these towns one by one, little by little, they are Changing the Cycle. They have also been a strong advocate in adding Bike Lanes in L.A and are succeeding at the goal. Now I don’t want to spoil the film for you.. I hope you enjoy the short…Spread the good word.”
- Why BIKE BIKE is awesome.
From Krista Carlson’s
In between workshops attendees went on rides, ate local food, and danced to local live music together, all the while continuing to share stories and ideas.
“I wanted to find my peers who were struggling with the same things at the same point,” said Nona Varnado, “ and I also wanted to be able to share my knowledge so that people can get to where I am faster, and we create more of a peer group of people who are trying to, from the bottom up, create this sort of social change.”
While it was her first time attending BikeBike, Varnado, a key organizer of ArtCrank, L.A. Bike Trains and the Red5Yellow7 bike-art gallery in L.A., is no stranger to community bike projects, and facilitated seven workshops throughout the weekend. “It’s BikeBike—If you don’t do it, it might not happen,” she said.
Long involved with integrating bikes are art to elevate one another, Varnado presented on guerilla bike art to a packed house, sharing ideas and examples of ways to use art to advance goals within the community. This workshop was one of seven that she hosted or co-facilitated throughout the weekend.
- Urban Velo liked this quote so much they re-printed it in their next issue #40 with a photo series from Bike!Bike! 2013 -
“It’s hard to learn all of these things, because you’ve got to learn about bikes themselves, you’ve got to learn about the bike industry, you’ve got to learn about nonprofits and advocacy and how cities work. There’s just so much stuff to learn that if you’re just kind of trying to do good stuff it could take you forever—so this is kind of like a fast track–instead of trying to work really hard and bumble your way through the next 10 years, just go to BikeBike and figure it all out.”
By comparing models and sharing ideas, the trial-by-fire experiences of one organization becomes a learning tool for other groups. Coming out of BikeBike a few years ago, an online think tank of more than 600 contributors provides a forum for information sharing and discourse between annual events.
“A lot of progress comes in the time between two BikeBikes. It all starts off from an idea being shared and getting folks really excited,” said Loconte. “One of the most surprising things is always how that problem your organization is experiencing and battling over and having a lot of issues with and not finding a way to resolve – most other shops will have very straightforward solutions that you never thought of.”
BikeBike 2014 will be in Columbus, Ohio. For more information and resources visit bikebike.org.
- LA Bike Trains on NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’
Listening to “All Things Considered” anywhere in America yesterday, December 1, 2013 and you might have heard this one..
As a lifelong NPR fan it was pretty sweet to get this surprise over the holiday weekend, with friends from all over the country freaking out and reposting it on facebook and twitter.
Check out the full article and audio here.
Of course when you’ve spent a 40,000+ hours on a project it’s hard to hear anything that isn’t the sweet sound of praise. But writer Alex Schmidt did us all a tremendous service by bringing in two somewhat jarring voices. The first Herbie Huff, who is a friend of mine, sort of negatively pointed out that you have to be pretty invested into a bike in order to participate -ie. already have a bike. That’s ..true. It’s a short piece so there wasn’t time to counter that we also work with bike shops to offer super awesome package deals for new commuters and that the cost of biking vs. driving means you could get 17 new bikes each year for the same cost of maintaining one car. (On average according to people who count that stuff.)
Next is the really outrageous part everyone’s talking about (hello, LA Bike Trains?) when a woman, Jackie Burke, agreed to speak and be named saying,
“It’s like they enjoy taking up the lanes,” says Jackie Burke, who has lived in Los Angeles her whole life. She says bicyclists drive her crazy when she’s in a car and has to slow down for them.
“It’s very frustrating, to the point where I just want to run them off the road,” Burke says. “I’ve actually done one of those drive-really-close-to-them kind of things to kind of scare them, to try to intimidate them to get out of my way.”
At first I was a little horrified thinking that anyone listening would be put off from either looking into LA Bike Trains or participating because of such outrageous comments. But in having a national audience, we’re already seeing a silver lining: that recent yet neglected LA City anti-harassment ordinance that no one has been bold enough to use? That might be changing soon. For more commentary check out Niall’s blog post. He does a really clever thing by pointing out that you can contact NPR and let them know how disturbing the quote was, particularly that it was thrown in there without any condemnation or pointing out that it’s super illegal and deadly.
NPR’s listener feedback form.
I would hope that with enough ‘feedback’ a new story directly dealing with this will create a powerful new national dialogue on respect and human dignity.
Here is Niall’s letter that you might consider using as a template for your own response.To the editor:
You deserve praise for covering the L.A. Bike Trains phenomenon, in which experienced bike commuters help novices learn how to travel safely by bike. It was horrifying, however, to hear the comments of Los Angeles resident Jackie Burke, who admitted to wanting “to run them [cyclists] off the road” and said “I’ve actually done one of those drive-really-close-to-them kind of things to kind of scare them, to try to intimidate them to get out of my way.”
This kind of sociopathy is seriously disturbing, and I as I ride my own bike around the streets of Los Angeles, I shudder to think how many motorists hold the view that it is ever OK to use a motor vehicle to intimidate or threaten another human being. Does Ms. Burke not realize that she is admitting to having committed menacing and assault?
I urge Ms. Burke and others with a similar attitude to get some perspective. City and suburban streets are not freeways. They provide access to homes and businesses and have to be usable by everyone and by all types of vehicles, including slower-moving ones. There is no entitlement to drive as fast as one wants all the time, and drivers need to be prepared to share the street with different types of vehicles that are legally allowed to be there. Sometimes this means waiting for a few seconds until it’s safe to overtake. And it really is a matter of seconds — I drive on Los Angeles’ streets too, and I rarely spend even so much as 30 seconds waiting to pass a bicyclist. Considering that traffic signal cycles can sometimes create delays of a minute or more, the delays caused by bicyclists are trivial, and certainly not worth risking the serious injury or death of another human being over.
With gas prices rising and the cost of living in urban areas going up, bicycles are going to be a fixture on the streets of American cities for many years to come as commuters try to slash costs. We need to cultivate a more humane environment on our roadways to accommodate this new reality. A well-connected network of protected bike lanes, separate from car traffic, would do wonders to ease tensions, as would bicyclist and motorist education regarding the rules of the road for each.
Until we get these things in our cities, would-be bicycle commuters are left to their own devices, and groups like L.A. Bike Trains are going to keep using safety in numbers to bring novices into the fold. Instead of threatening these people from the inside of her vehicle, perhaps Ms. Burke should go on a ride and get a cyclist’s perspective on traffic.
- Ten Years of Ghost Bikes
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: Friday, October 24, 2013
TIME: 7 -11pm LOCATION: 4357 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, California 90029
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Opening Friday, October 24, 2013 The international art movement begun in 2003 celebrates ten years of art, advocacy and community with the first ever gallery show. Family members, Ghost Bike and transportation advocates, artists and friends will be in attendance. Ghost Bikes are memorials honoring cyclists who are fatally – or sometimes critically – injured due to unnecessary collisions on streets not designed for shared traffic.They are a unique and positive response to a terrible event. By using art communities around the globe have begun making individual memorials a powerful public awareness tool. Ghost Bikes are not put together by family or friends, but by local bike advocates to pay respect while making it publicly known that a death has occurred and making it obvious that a street or intersection is dangerous. Ghost Bikes of LA is an informative and inspiring look at how art and awareness are bringing people closer together and changing our cities for the better.
- Sunday, Oct. 27: 12 – 4pm family members speak + How to make a Ghost Bike
- Saturday, Nov. 2: Ride to Hollywood Forever’s Day of the Dead
- Thursday, Nov. 14: 7pm LA Memorial Ride on Andy’s Candle Light Vigil
- Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013: 4-8pm Closing Reception
Red#5 Yellow#7 is a gallery dedicated to advancing the mainstream dialogue on contemporary cycling issues.
- bicycle convention season
A few weeks ago I was in Las Vegas for Interbike, focused on the mass commercialization of bicycling (meh) and spent last week in New Orleans ( <3 NOLA!) for bike!bike! the indie non-conference mainly focused on bike co-ops. Next month I’ll be in the bay area for the CalBike summit. I’ve just finished giving 7 (!!) talks on things from working with non-profits, city agencies and community outreach to branding, bike trains, illegal activist art and getting more women on bikes. In other words, it’s been exhausting, rewarding and revolutionary.
And I want to share it with you!
So please be patient (and encouraging!) while I bring all these things together, collect images and links. If you’ve got a few dollars, donate me some coffee (or better yet – New Orleans DAIQUIRI) dollars.
Here’s what’s coming up:
- Guerrilla Bike Art: History & Techniques
- Supporting Cities to Support Cycling
- Bike Trains & Bike Caravans in “Car Orientated Cities”
- The Real Secret to Getting Women on Bikes