Filmed By Bike through the eyes of a recent transplant

Posted by on April 17th, 2010 at 11:49 pm

The following article is by Jennifer Clunie. Formerly the executive director of the New York Bicycle Coalition, Clunie has been a Portland resident for less than two weeks. She came for no other reason than to immerse herself in a city where bicycles are part of the culture. In the article below, she shares her impressions from opening night at Filmed by Bike.

A DJ kept the crowd moving at
the Filmed by Bike street party
Friday night.
(Photo: BikeRanger/Flickr)

A recent transplant from New York State, I finally witnessed first-hand the remarkable experience of rush-hour bike traffic Friday night. Cyclists poured out of their offices, shops, restaurants, and public buildings and flooded the streets from every direction, whirling and clicking in syncopated rhythm. This phenomenon was part of no group ride, designated charity event or heavily promoted race with cash, points or pride on the line, but rather individuals choosing to transport themselves to their destinations via two wheels, rather than four.

And on this particular Friday night, all roads for cyclists seemed to lead to the Clinton Street Theater for the opening premier of the 8th Annual Filmed by Bike film festival happening this weekend (April 16th-18th).

Event volunteer Skye Blue.
(Photo: BikeRanger/Flickr)

Fellows on full-carbon Pinarellos co-mingled with cargo bikes, mountain bikes and commuters in Day-Glo neon green jackets, fenders, and heavily-laden panniers. A mom was spotted arriving with a double Tag-Along and two small boys in tow, promptly followed by a young woman wearing fluorescent purple hair, short skirt and black garter belt and stockings. From Pearl Izumi to polka-dot print dresses and pumps, hipster jeans to sequined scarves and proud display of “I [BIKE] PDX” tees, Filmed by Bike attracted a crowd as flavorful and varied as Portland itself.

Reflecting the scene outside the theater, the films chosen for opening night featured a mix of mediums and messages ranging from silly to serious, fervent to fun. Whistles and cheers erupted as the moral of Travis Wittwer’s Rack Attack! broadcast: “bike racks are an indicator species of a healthy community.” Locals must have felt right at home as kilt-wearing and bagpipe-playing Everyman rolled past Ankeny Square, VooDoo Donuts, and through the stacks at Powell’s Books on his unicycle. Snaps for catchy bike rap tunes go to I’m on a Bike! from Fort Collins, Colorado and would-be roadie theme song Performance, the film that took the web by storm when it debuted back in August.

There was wacky and there was wonk. Copenhagen’s Climate-Friendly, Bike-Friendly Streets inspired and excited. Upon learning of of Copenhagen’s latest implementation of special LED lights and sensors notifying motorists when cyclists occupy the right lane–preventing the dreaded right-hook collision–one gentleman stood up and shouted, “I’m moving THERE!”

Crowds packed into the theater.
(Photo: Filmed by Bike)

The film that won the lion’s share of cheers, laughter and huzzahs! was, hands-down, Mein Fiets. A parody of Hitler wants to ride his mountain bike which had gone viral on YouTube earlier this winter, North Portland resident Allan Folz pulls no punches when examining current the state of affairs regarding Critical Mass in Portland. Whether you’re a Zoobomber or “rich square” at the BTA, expect to get called out on how the land once regarded as “Little Beruit” now (in our dubious protagonist’s opinion), offers nothing more than a series of “campy theme rides.”

At the inaugural event in 2003, Filmed by Bike organizers hoped for 40 attendees: they rejoiced at 80. In the seven years since, the festival has expanded into a three-day affair, with two separate programs and an expected attendance of between 2,000-2,500.

While Filmed by Bike receives submissions from independent filmmakers from around the world, the roster is dominated by those who hail from Portland, Oregon — a reflection of the vibrant culture in this city, according to the event’s founder Ayleen Crotty. “Portland is so advanced in bike culture beyond advocacy.” While still an important and valued element, Crotty acknowledges, “[advocacy] is so well-covered and so many are engaged, it gives freedom for more artistic elements to flourish.”

During the Opening Night Street Party, amidst dancers, stilt-walkers, and performers with glow-in-the-dark Hula Hoops, I caught up with Matt Case from Team Beer outside the New Belgium beer garden. “It’s pretty diverse — and impressive. With relatively different and diametric opposite groups, people seem to be able to get along.” Citing events like Filmed by Bike and Pedalpalooza, Case comments, “It all coalesces here in Portland. It’s pretty cool.”

Filmed by Bike continues on Sunday, with films airing at 5 (followed by filmmaker Q+A), 7 and 9pm. Those looking to celebrate all facets of bicycling as we know it are welcome and encouraged to attend.

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revphilJennifer ClunieTodd BoulangerAyleenThe Biking Viking Recent comment authors
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Steven Vance

I scheduled my first Portland vacation around the Filmed By Bike festival! I had an awesome time in Portland and a great time at the Filmed By Bike festival. I want to come back.

(By the way, I came from Chicago. Neither the chocolate, coffee, beer nor pot brought me to PDX – it was the bicycling.)

Paul Cone
Paul Cone

Actually “The Hitler Meme” has been around way before the bike community got ahold of it…

Yes, definitely an A+ rendition (even better than Hitler Plans Burning Man —

DJ Anjali

My name is Anjali! Hope you liked the tunes…

Scott Mizée

Great article. …and love to read words from someone outside of our microcosm culture of portland bicycling.

Please publish more of Jennifer Clunie’s writing!

Bob New
Bob New

Any photos out there? I know a few people caught some great photos including myself on stilts for a short portion of the evening (before the 9pm show). Thanks!

Steven Vance

Always check Flickr for new photos of events. Here’s the “filmed by bike” tag:

The Biking Viking
The Biking Viking

It’s kind of sad, but I didn’t even try to get in this year. Twice before I’ve waited in line for hours, only to have barely missed getting in to the sold out show (only a handful of people in front of us). Usually I’d just shrug something like that off, but there are so many people who “save spots” in line for others, it can be frustrating. Not that I have an answer, just wanted to rant.


Huge thanks to everyone who came out this year!

To Biking Viking – We had advance ticket sales online for people who didn’t want to wait in line wondering if they’d get in, earlier sales (5:30 for all shows on Friday) and the weekend shows very rarely sell out. There are plenty of opportunities to get tickets and get in, so I hope you’ll join us next year!

And here’s an insider tip: The 11pm show on Friday never sells out AND you get to catch all of the Street Party action before going into the movies.

See you next year!
Ayleen + Team FBB

Todd Boulanger
Todd Boulanger

Hi Ayleen,

Sorry I missed my first Filmed By Bike this year…are there any DVDs left to buy? $?

Needing Some Bike Love in Abu Dhabi…

Jennifer Clunie
Jennifer Clunie

Thanks for all the comments and positive feedback, folks! Glad to hear both locals and out-of-towners who were able to attend the event enjoyed themselves.

Stay tuned from future articles from this New Yorker who’s now sporting a PDX zip code, as she continues to write, inquired, investigate and celebrate all things bike-related here on the “Left Coast.”

In the meantime, if you’re looking for more FBB photos, Jonathan Snell sent me some amazing ones well worth 5 minutes of your viewing time:


congrats ayleen and allan