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Playlist: Bikes

Compiled By: PRX Editors

 Credit: <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?searchterm=bike&search_group=&lang=en&search_source=search_form#id=98638544&src=_sEKDqVzkz08GmqjvVOvmg-1-1">Shutterstock</a>.
Image by: Shutterstock
Curated Playlist

May is National Bike Month. Ride on!

Below are picks chosen by PRX editorial staff. You can find more pieces appropriate for National Bike Month by using our search.

Hour (49:00-1:00:00)

1992 First Critical Mass Ride

From Action Speaks Radio | 53:31

Bicyclists take to the streets en mass in a fight over the ‘right to the city’.

Criticalmass002_small_small The revolution may no longer take place first in the factories, but as Seattle anti-NAFTA Demonstrations and Occupy Wall Street has shown, might be in the streets, in the parks and--to the anger of many--in traffic.

Critical Mass began in 1992 in the city of San Francisco when bicyclists decided to meet monthly in downtown rush hour auto traffic to join the commute home. Beginning with 50 cyclists, Critical Mass gatherings grew into the thousands in cities throughout the world, often engendering police retaliation and motorist anger. While occasionally members of the ad hoc community fought back against recalcitrant authorities and angry automobile drivers, many within the movement evolved an understanding that the best method for recruiting others to a non-fossil fuel economy was to create a sense of joy, celebration and sociability with their ride through the city. Critical Mass' horizontal, rather than vertical leadership became a model for subsequent protests, like the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle and, in many ways, Occupy Wall Street. Critical Mass continues to this day and some assert that its battle for the 'Right to the City'  has been partially responsible for the rise in bicycle friendly policies in both urban and small town US communities.

Our panelists:

Zack Furness, Assistant Professor of Communications at Pennsylvania State University and author of One Less Car: Bicycling and the Politics of Automobility. He is also editor of Punkademics , co-editor of The NFL: Critical/Cultural Perspectives , and has written for several edited collections, journals, and non-academic publications including Punk Planet, Souciant and Bitch Magazine.

 

David Herlihy,  author of  Bicycle: The History,  which greatly clarified the true origins of the bicycle, and The Lost Cyclist , the story of Frank Lenz’s ill-fated bicycle trip around the world in the 1890s, a Publishers Weekly 100 Best Books of 2010. 

 

Nicole Freedman, Executive Director of Maine Huts and Trails and former Director of Bicycle Programs for the City of Boston under Mayor Thomas Menino. During her tenure for the city (2006-2012), Boston transformed itself from the worst cycling city in the country to a recognized leader in cycling. Nicole also competed professionally in bike racing from 1994-2005, winning two national championships and competing for the United States in the 2000 Olympics in Sidney.

 

Recommended Reading:

- Bicycle, The History by David V. Herlihy  Yale University Press, 2006

-The Cyclist's Manifesto; The Case for Riding on Two Wheels Instead of Four by Robert Hurst; Falcon Guides (2009)

-One Less Car: Bicycling and the Politics of Automobility by Zack Furness (Temple University Press, 2010),

-Critical Mass: Bicycling's Defiant Celebration Edited by Chris Carlsson AK Press (2002)

One Shoe In the Road: Struck Cyclists and Their Stories

From Don Godwin | 58:57

struck cyclists talk, with original score by survivors

Oneshoecover_small Have you ever pulled up to a busy street on a bike, been waved across by a waiting truck driver, only to be creamed by a speeding car just as you pass the hulking semi into supposed safety? Have you ever been biking blissfully down a quiet neighborhood hill with friends, when suddenly out of nowhere a van gunning its engine, hurtling down the sleepy street mercilessly plows into you and two of your companions from behind, killing them and severely mangling you? Have you ever looked both ways and carefully started across an intersection, only to be blindsided by a driver babbling on their phone, ignoring the stop sign, sending you tumbling under the vehicle "like a pile of laundry" with the car wheels crushing your neck and pelvis? Have you ever seen the underside of a car as it continues after hitting you, with the wreckage of your bike sending out a shower of sparks as the vehicle drags you both down the street? These are just glimpses of the stories presented in One Shoe In the Road: Struck Cyclists and Their Stories, a one hour radio show put together by Erin Yanke and Don Godwin. It features stories of several cyclists from New Orleans, Louisiana and Portland, Oregon recorded in 2004, and edited together at KBOO in Portland. It is a very intense and graphic mix of intimate recollections, put together with the hope that car commuters will stumble across the program on their radio as they move through the streets, and start to consider the experiences of those who operate outside of the isolating confinements of the vehicle.


Half-Hour (24:00-30:00)

The Bike Ride of '76

From Hugh Duncan | 27:45

Two young children and their dad try to bike across the country before the Fourth of July.

The_bike_ride_of_76_small Midway through his career, a college professor decided to act on his lifelong desire to take a grand adventure.  His plans became more complex when his two young children joined him.  While trying to meet a summer deadline, they discovered some interesting things about family, freedom and the Fourth of July.

Destination DIY: Cycling

From Rendered | Part of the Destination DIY series | 27:58

An exploration of human-powered transportation.

Destdiy2c_small In this installment of the monthly show Destination DIY, you'll hear about the recycled bikes, unicycling, commuting on two wheels and other quirky stories from Portland's cycling community.

Beat Pedaler

From Vanessa Lowe | 30:01

Beat Pedaler is an in-depth exploration of rapper, inventor and educator Paul Freedman’s passion for bike culture.

Playing
Beat Pedaler
From
Vanessa Lowe

Fossil_fool_small

He goes by the name Fossil Fool.  But Paul Freedman is nobody’s fool.  He’s a rapper, an inventor and an educator.  And he’s on a mission to spread the word -- about biking that is.  He does this in a number of ways – the most visible involves embodying his alter ego, “Fossil Fool, the Bike Rapper”.  Fossil Fool rides around on El Arbor, a 15 foot Tree that is also a bicycle, as he performs original rap music about bike culture.  Beat Pedaler is an in-depth exploration of Freedman’s passion for bike culture, and his motivation for calling it from the mountaintops.  Freedman envisions a world where “bikes are cool and cars are lame”, where everyone has discovered that shedding the protection of cars allows them to become more connected to their local communities.  Getting people out of their cars has another benefit for a nation dependent on petroleum.  Fossil Fool believes that creating community by celebrating bike culture will fuel a shift in attitudes and behaviors that just might save the planet.


Segments (9:00-23:59)

It's Like Riding A Bike

From Canadian Broadcasting Corporation | Part of the CBC Radio's Outfront series | 13:25

For Christa Couture, the simple child's pleasure of riding a bike has eluded her until recently.

Prxoutfrontplain_small It's Like Riding a Bike by Christa Couture Producer: Yvonne Gall "It's like a riding a bike"...a wonderful catch phrase for something never forgotten. But for Christa Couture, a simple child's pleasure has eluded her for many years...until recently. Broadcast on CBC Radio's Outfront October 5, 2004 SEE ADDITIONAL LICENCE TERMS Outfront Opening and Closing Theme available - (see Rundown section for more details)

Diary of a New York City Bike Messenger

From WFUV | 10:13

NYC Bike Messenger Keeps an Audio Diary

Bilthycat_small You've seen them rocketing up and down the streets of Manhattan, but what's the life of a New York City bike messenger really like? Bill "Bilthy" Meier recently strapped a mic to his bag as he made his delivery rounds. At the end of the day, he'd recorded his thoughts on biking, life, and the people he meets along the way; and a fair share of musical interludes.

Cars, Scars and Handlebars

From Sarah Lange | 09:03

The Life of a Bike Messenger

21932prev_small What is it like to be a bike messenger in the hectic city? How does the public view them? What are the hazards and why would someone want to spend their days navigating the busy streets?..... i wanted to find out. This is my take on the life of a bike messenger, or otherwise known as.......Cars, Scars and Handlebars!


Cutaways (5:00-8:59)

The Sharing Economy: Bilingual Bike Repair in Oakland

From KALW | 07:22

Bike culture in the Bay Area runs the gamut, from high performance racing to hipster fixies. Keeping a bike can be an expensive hobby, and as with cars, some people use their bikes as an extension of their personal style. At ColectíVelo, a community bike shop in East Oakland, bicycles are still seen for their primary purpose: transportation. The shop provides free space and tools, bike repair training in Spanish and English, and access to bicycles for those with low incomes. KALW's Jen Chien reports.

Cimg3974_small

Bike culture in the Bay Area runs the gamut, from high performance racing to hipster fixies. Keeping a bike can be an expensive hobby, and as with cars, some people use their bikes as an extension of their personal style.

At ColectíVelo, a community bike shop in East Oakland, bicycles are still seen for their primary purpose: transportation. The shop provides free space and tools, bike repair training in Spanish and English, and access to bicycles for those with low incomes.

One Bike at a Time

On a recent afternoon, Juana Paredes adjusts the gears on a kid-sized bike, mounted on a stand. Her hands are streaked with black grease, and her head tilts to the side as she stands back to watch the wheel turn, testing the adjustment.

She says she has worked here at ColectíVelo for about five Saturdays: cleaning, opening, and closing the shop. That's how she earned her first bike. 

Paredes’s work exchange experience is not an exception here, it’s the norm because ColectíVelo operates without the use of money. The shop offers the use of its bike repair tools, equipment and space free of charge; but in order to take bikes or parts home, people are asked to volunteer their time and skills to benefit the shop.

Dreaming up an Affordable Bike Shop

Five years ago, a public health nurse and her social worker colleagues saw a need for affordable, efficient transportation among the day laborers they served in Fruitvale. They dreamed of a bike shop for them, and for the other low-income residents of the neighborhood. They found a space to launch this dream at the Oakland Catholic Worker House of Hospitality, a resource center that mainly serves the large Latin American community in Fruitvale. One of their services is providing transitional housing for recent immigrants at the House itself. Juana Paredes lived there when she moved to the United States from Mexico, and that is how she found out about ColectíVelo.

Bikes of every shape and persuasion line the walls and ceiling of the semi-open space. Heavy metal shelving holds bike tools and plastic bins of spare parts. There’s a friendly, organized-junkyard vibe to the place.

Kathleen Mills is also here doing work exchange, for a neat little folding bike she is fixing up for her granddaughter. She found ColectíVelo through the Catholic Worker House’s hot meal program. She was experiencing difficulty keeping herself fed, so she started exploring the neighborhood looking for food assistance, and found the Catholic Worker House.

“They gave me some beans and rice, and then I was talking to them, asking did they have job research and stuff like that,” she says. “But then they’re like, no but we fix bikes! I’m like, oh, great! So, I came around and I started working.”

Mills says she discovered her interest for bicycles here at Colectívelo. “I never knew about bikes,” she says. “I’m like almost sixty years old. So, never too old to learn something.”

She has been coming to the shop for five weeks, and has now brought her nephew, Steven Hobdy, into the fold. He is converting an old ten-speed bike into a faster, more efficient single-speed. “I wanted to make something more comfortable, and make me look good on the street, too,” he laughs.

A Safe Space

Juana Paredes has been here every Saturday for the past year. She says it feels like home, a definite contrast to how she feels outside on the streets because of the violence, drug use and muggings that take place.

On this particular Saturday afternoon, a shooting occurred at the car wash next to the shop, a serious reminder that safe spaces are a real need in this neighborhood. ColectíVelo’s main organizer, Morgan Kanninen, says the shared activity of bike repair helps build relationships in the neighborhood that otherwise wouldn’t exist. “It creates a space where people … feel like they belong,” she says.

Building A Bilingual Community

This afternoon in the shop, native Spanish and English speakers are working easily side by side, and Kanninen says this bilingual element makes ColectíVelo special. “They’re super friendly to each other and ... everybody adds to the ambience even if they can’t necessarily communicate directly with words,” she says.

Kanninen believes the feeling of community is also strengthened by the no-cash model of the shop’s operations. When people want a bike or parts, the first step is sitting down to a meeting to discuss possible work exchange scenarios. There are some set volunteer tasks, like helping to open and close the shop on Saturdays, but it is up to each person to propose what they think they can do to help the shop. Kanninen says volunteers have built awnings to protect the bikes from rain, constructed tables for the shop, painted signs, re-organized the shelves, and even created bicycle art to be hung in the shop.

All of the work takes place within the shop on Saturdays, when everyone is there. Kanninen says this is helpful because people can actually see each other doing the work, and it creates more of a communal atmosphere.”It’s kind of inspiring to see people’s different ideas happen,” she says. “I think it creates a lot more appreciation for each other.”

Making it Work Without Money

One of the reasons that ColectíVelo can afford to operate in this communal way is that, unlike other retail bike shops, they have very low expenses. The Oakland Catholic Worker owns its house, and charges no rent to the bike shop. Almost every item in the shop was donated or made by volunteers.

Kanninen says that they occasionally receive cash donations, and sometime people offer money instead of labor for bikes or parts. She says she appreciates the offers, but the shop’s eschewing of money is very purposeful. She points out that even sliding scale systems can contribute to a feeling of inequality among participants. For some, asking to pay at the lower end of a sliding scale can create a “sense of alienation or shame that just does not need to be involved in this bike shop," she explains. "I think it would only hurt the growth of community here, and the real sharing and learning from each other.”

It’s near closing time. As Kathleen Mills starts cleaning and putting away the tools, her nephew Stephen Hobdy puts the finishing touches on his ten-speed to single-speed conversion. This type of conversion has been pretty trendy amongst bicycle hipsters. And though Hobdy admits he does want to look good on his bike, he says he’s mostly concerned with the simple task of getting to work and back. At ColectíVelo, people are getting back to bicycle basics: human-powered transportation. And they’re doing it with the very human power of relationships.

Using Twitter to recover stolen bikes

From KALW | 08:14

If someone steals your bike, it can feel pretty hopeless. So with the police mostly unable to help, bike theft victims are turning to social media – enlisting everyone they know, and everyone they know, to help track down their rides.

Laney_bikes_small If someone steals your bike, it can feel pretty hopeless. So with the police mostly unable to help, bike theft victims are turning to social media – enlisting everyone they know, and everyone they know, to help track down their rides.

Keep Honking. I'm Re . . . cording

From Tennessee Watson | 08:27

A sound exploration of car horn linguistics and biker/driver communication inspired by best-selling author and linguist Deborah Tannen.

Tnframedbybike_small I ride my bike in New York City an average of 15 miles a day. I don’t think I’ve gone anywhere on my bike without being honked at. I hear your honking but what are you really trying to say to me? 'Cause all i hear is hostility and aggression, and you scare the crap out of me every time.

It could be a courtesy hello. Or it could be: hey baby you look good. Or it could be: get the #@*% off the road. It happens so fast and I’m focused on the road, so it’s not like I get the chance to look over to get a read on the honkers corresponding facial expression. It would make my ride more pleasant if I was never honked at again, but according to Deborah Tannen asking people to change their communication style may not be the key. She suggests that "knowing what conversational style is and how it works gives you a revolutionary new way of understanding what goes on when you talk to others- and that understanding gives you tools you can use when you're not happy with the way a conversation, or a relationships, is going.”

The honkers have a big piece of metal and a loud ass horn on their side, which is no match for my 10 pounds of 80s vintage road bike and wimpy bicycle bell, but I still think Deborah’s got some sound advice and so I strapped an audio recorder to my backpack, pushed my grudge against honkers aside and set off on my bike in an attempt to revolutionize biker/driver communication.

 


Drop-Ins (2:00-4:59)

From Biking In Sweden...To Biking In Texas

From Youth Spin - KOOP 91.7 FM | 03:00

When Zoe's family spent their summers in Sweden, all she had to get around on was a bike...but could a car-using Texan like Zoe get used to it?

Prxswedenbikes_small When Zoe's family spent their summers in Sweden, all she had to get around on was a bike...but could a car-using Texan like Zoe get used to it? Here Zoe discusses her experiences in Sweden and why people in the U.S. could get used to using bikes and buses.

Ghost Bikes

From Mark Saldaña | 04:26

In Portland, OR, and across the United States, Ghost Bikes mark the sites of fatal bicycle-autombile collisions.

Playing
Ghost Bikes
From
Mark Saldaña

Gbsw14_small This short documentary explores the phenomenon of ghost bikes, makeshift monuments that artists install at the sites of fatal bicycle-automobile collisions, and how family members and community members alike make sense of the symbols. It centers on Susan Kabota, the aunt of the victim of such a collision. The documentary also explores bike culture in Portland, Oregon, and how policymakers are dealing with accidents.

Alleycat Racing

From Next Generation Radio | Part of the NPR's Next Generation Radio series | 04:51

There's more to bike racing than the Tour de France. Some bike messengers organize and compete in their own races called "alley cats." Mac Henry reports

Henry_small There's more to bike racing than the Tour de France. Some bike messengers organize and compete in their own races called "alley cats." They're not sanctioned by the police. They're in live traffic. And they rely on a special blend of speed, navigational skill and humor.

How to fix a flat bicycle tire

From Vermont Public Radio | Part of the Cool How-Tos series | 03:08

Repairing a flat tire on a bicycle is a skill that comes in handy when you're a long way from anywhere and your tire goes flat.

Flat_tire_small Repairing a flat tire on a bicycle is a skill that comes in handy when you're a long way from anywhere and your tire goes flat - assuming you had the foresight to bring along a tire repair kit and a hand pump. Bike mechanic Harris Bucklin at the Old Spokes Home in Burlington, Vermont, gives us a lesson in fixing a flat.

Fixed Gear Bikes

From Jonathan Menjivar | 03:28

An exploration of the bicycle and why sometimes simpler is better.

Fgbikenazhamid_small If you've spent any time in a city in the last five years, you've probably seen a fixed gear bike. Popularized by bike messengers, the fixed gear bike strips down the modern bicycle to its origins. With only one gear, often no brakes, and no freewheel, the mechanism that allows a bicycle to coast, fixed gear bikes offer what some riders say is a closer connection to the road. In this piece, Chicago graphic designer and fixed gear enthusiast Naz Hamid (NAHZ  HAH-mihd) explains how a bicycle works...and why he loves to ride its most basic model. Originally aired on Studio 360 July 1, 2005.

Burger Bell

From Mia Lobel | 03:00

This is a true story about bike commuting, theft, and making the best of a bad situation.

Playing
Burger Bell
From
Mia Lobel

Burgerbell_small This piece was originally produced for the 2007 Third Coast ShortDoc competition - a great exercise in creating a complete, sound-rich story in just three minutes.