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VOL. 126 | NO. 98 | Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bikes on the Big Screen

Bikesploitation Bike and Film Festival hits Memphis


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What has two wheels, costs nothing to enjoy and promotes healthy living? A film festival, of course.

Employees of archer>malmo regularly ride their bike to work, including Robby Grant, left, and Richard Williams. Friday is National Bike to Work Day. 
(Photo: Lance Murphey)

Organizers of Live From Memphis’ Bikesploitation Bike and Film Festival hope the mixture of bicycles and film will add one more layer of learning and fun to the Center City Commission’s second annual Bike to Work Day, set for Friday.

“We support local film, art and culture,” said Sarah Fleming, co-owner of Live From Memphis and director of Bikesploitation. “Any time we can blend multiple cultures together, we really like to do that.”

Bikesploitation will take place Friday at 6 p.m. with film screenings from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Warehouse, 36 E. G.E. Patterson Ave. The Downtown event is free and features about 17 short films, six of which were made locally. The rest come from New York, California, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand and Africa.

Food vendors and a cash bar will be onsite.

Fleming said all of the films are less than eight minutes, including “Tall Bike,” a local documentary by Christopher Reyes about making a bicycle by welding two bike frames.

The film was shot at the Metal Museum.

Fleming serves on the CCC’s Bike to Work Day committee, but she said that it just made sense to do a festival about biking, which has become more and more popular in Memphis in the last two years.

Bikesploitation, she said, could be considered an after-party for Bike to Work Day.

“There are lots of bicycle-themed festivals around the country,” Fleming said. “I just had a bicycle-themed film that I did, which screened in New York. We also as an organization have lots of experience doing themed-based festivals. That’s part of Live From Memphis’ mission.”

Live From Memphis had already sponsored bike-themed festivals organized by a similar group in New York, but Fleming’s volunteers suggested that this year was the time to do their own.

“It’s extremely topical right now,” she said.

Last year’s Bike to Work Day involved about 122 employees of 56 Downtown businesses riding to work. The CCC will offer gift bags and snacks at energizer stations on three routes to Downtown and a lunchtime Bike Expo at Court Square.

The CCC and Revolutions Community Bike Shop have been offering bike safety courses and forums to discuss the logistics of transporting work clothes and office needs by bike throughout March and April.

“It was a lot of fun, but I rode in my work clothes, which was a terrible idea,” said Jeff Hulett, public relations coordinator for the Church Health Center and a participant in last year’s Bike to Work Day.

The CHC will host an energizer station in this year’s event and has added bike racks to both Midtown campuses to try to encourage its employees to participate.

“This year I’m going to ride in shorts and a T-shirt because I got so hot,” Hulett said. “This is the second year in a row for us to say, ‘Hey, if we’re all about healthy living, then let’s walk the walk or ride the ride.’”

Hulett plans to meet a group of riders at a café in his neighborhood and ride to work together.

The opening of the Shelby Farms Greenline last summer created a surge of demand for new bikes and repairs to old bikes. Area riding clubs like the Memphis Hightailers saw sharp increases in membership and local bike shops had weeklong waiting lists for repairs through the end of the year.

But the explosion of biking-enthusiasm hasn’t been without controversy. Public meetings to discuss adding bike lanes to Madison Avenue and Cooper Street in Midtown were met with opposition from business owners, chiefly over concerns about on-street parking and possible rerouting of traffic.

Bike lanes have already been added to portions of Southern Avenue and Broad Avenue. They were among campaign promises made by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.

Dawn Vinson, the CCC’s director of marketing and special events, said that while Bike to Work Day is focused on commuting to work, she hopes participants will simply increase their bike-riding even if they don’t commute every day.

Hulett said it did just that.

“My wife and I try to ride as much as we can in our neighborhood,” he said. “On Good Friday we rode out on the Greenline all the way to Shelby Farms. It was amazing. Now we’re definitely pro-bike.”

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