Where are you from? I grew up in Connecticut, but I’ve lived in New York since 2001.
When did you start biking in the city? When I moved here, I brought two things: my iMac and my bike.
When did you start making movies about biking in the city? The first bike movie I made in New York was with my brother Van. He biked through the Holland Tunnel during rush hour on a Friday night.
And? It’s a great video. You can watch it on YouTube.
Why do you ride? In New York, so much of your movement is restricted by things outside of your control. If you ride the subway, there are the crowds and delays. If you take a cab, you have to catch it and deal with traffic. Even if you’re walking, there are tourists and people stopping for no reason. When you combine that with the crazy non-stop lifestyle in New York, you have this anxiety-inducing commute that’s going all the time. It makes me—well—anxious. The one exception is cycling. It’s an antidote. I can get anywhere, exactly when I want. Traffic, congestion, the weather: it doesn’t matter. I know I can be where I need to be when I need to be there.
Do you do a lot of thinking on your bike? I’ve always made movies about whatever I’m dealing with, so as a cyclist, I’ve made a lot of bike movies. That’s definitely what’s behind “Bike Thief” and “Bike Lanes.”
What kind of bike do you ride?
A Jamis fixed-gear commuter with my handlebars cut the width of my shoulders and hips.
Any tips for new cyclists? Biking is like owning a puppy. It’s a responsibility, but if you fully embrace it, it’s the greatest thing in the world.
Has biking in New York gotten better? It has. But cyclists still have to make sacrifices in order to enjoy all of the freedoms that come with biking. For all the time savings and for all of the control, you pay a price. It’s risk. It’s property. And in the last couple of years, there’s been a misguided effort by the NYPD to “improve cycling safety.” That has become another price to pay. And that one is ridiculous.
What do you think of all the video cameras on handlebars and helmets these days? As a cyclist, and an advocate for cyclists, I think all the cameras are great. As a filmmaker, I think most of those videos are annoying. No one really cares about someone getting pulled over for something, but if you can do something else with it—make people laugh, tell a story, whatever—then people will care.
I know you were doing an HBO show for a while. What are you working on now? Right now, I’m exclusively focused on making videos for YouTube. That’s really been my big focus for the last year.
Any more bike videos in the works? You’ll have to wait and see.