Rolling cameras: the bike-umentary makers

Cycling shorts

Philip de Roos and Paddy Cahill working on a Cyclingwith video

Philip de Roos and Paddy Cahill working on a Cyclingwith video

 

Cycling makes you happy, according to Irish filmmaker, Paddy Cahill. “There are loads of good reasons to cycle for society and the individual but I don’t cycle for health or environmental reasons. I cycle because it’s the quickest, most convenient way to get around and it makes you happy,” he says.

A keen everyday cyclist, Cahill believes that cycling is a key to more liveable urban communities.

Together with Dutch lawyer Philip de Roos, Cahill developed a cycling video project last year. It started when de Roos was working in Dublin, blogging on DutchinDublin. wordpress.com. Now, once a month, de Roos cycles a large upright Dutch bike while Cahill films from his perch on a cushion on the front carrier of the bike. “It’s a surprisingly comfortable position,” says Cahill.

Each month, they upload a new cycling video to the site cyclingwith.com. So far, they have about 12 videos of about 10 to 15 minutes each, filmed while cycling alongside their interviewee through the streets of Dublin or Amsterdam. Interviewees range from architectural historian Ellen Rowley to performance artist Amanda Coogan and the former mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen.

“We’re really interested in people’s stories. There is something about cycling that promotes a gentle pace to the conversation. The city becomes another character which in turn affects the conversation,” says Cahill.

“Our mission is to film 100 Cyclingwith documentaries,” says Cahill. The site has about 1,000 regular followers.

“It’s amazing how a web-series like this can be shared all over the world. I’m still excited by that. Just this month, our videos were shown in a film festival in Edmonton, Canada.”

Cleaner air, less traffic . . . reasons to get on your bike

It is Government policy to have 10 per cent of all trips made by bike by 2020. Some 400,000 workers and students travel 4km or less by car every day. If these people changed to cycling or walking, urban traffic jams would disappear. This would lead to more efficient and, arguably, cheaper transport of people and goods.

The Smarter Travel initiative (smartertravel.ie) in the National Sustainable Transport Office promotes cycling, walking and public transport use through campaigns in schools/universities (green schools and campuses) and workplaces (Smarter Travel workplaces).

Companies and hospitals have introduced the initiative, and studies have shown car use dropping 10 to 30 per cent as a result.

Limerick, Dungarvan, Co Waterford, and Westport, Co Mayo, have been designated Active Travel Towns, with schemes to improve cycling networks and infrastructure, reduce urban speed limits and get more people on their bikes.

A new street design manual views streets not as traffic corridors but as places used principally by pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.

A doctor of cycling

Damien O’Tuama was one of the founders of the Dublin Cycling Campaign 20 years ago.

A passionate everyday cyclist, he has campaigned tirelessly for good cycling infrastructure in Dublin.

He is doing a PhD on Dublin Bikes which he says is “an exploration of the social and multi-sensory aspects of being on a public bike in Dublin in comparison to other ways of moving about”.

O’Tuama has also written a chapter in Enabling Cycling Cities – Ingredients for Success (Civitas Mimosa) which will be launched in Dublin during National Bike Week.

“Cycling infrastructure is increasingly becoming a grassroots demand from environmentalists, neighbourhood councils and cyclist associations,” says O’Tuama, who is just back from the international Velo-city cycling conference in Vienna.

He says strong involvement from cyclists at early planning stages was what led to the National Cycling Policy Framework (Department of Transport, 2009).

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