This article was published in 2015, in Newsletter 121.
Cambridge was recently visited by Streetfilms director Clarence Eckerson Jr who spent three days filming cycling and other sustainable modes of transport. Based in New York and created all over the world, Streetfilms has over 500 videos that are freely distributed online and are used to educate campaigners and decision-makers about sustainable transport solutions. As the leading city for cycling in the UK, it was Cambridge’s turn to be in the spotlight.
Clarence started his visit with a tour of Cambridge, led by Jim Chisholm and Robin Heydon. They showed Clarence a number of important parts of what makes Cambridge special for cycling, including Riverside Bridge, filtered permeability, the core traffic scheme and improvements to key roads such as Hills Road. The group then rode out on the Genome Path and back up The Busway to the City Centre. Clarence was particularly delighted with The Busway. Within 24 hours a video of The Busway and an interview with Jim was posted to the Streetfilms website with views from all over the world.
The next day was Roxanne’s turn to host Clarence, accompanying him to a range of interviews. First up was Mike Davies from Cambridgeshire County Council with Riverside Bridge in the background. This was followed by a visit to Outspoken with the perfect opportunity to observe a Bikeability course in action and to interview Outspoken trainers, couriers and new head of bike maintenance & events, Judy Duddridge. The day finished with an interview with Hugh Salt from Dutch Bikes, where Roxanne was able to try out her skills behind the camera to capture the scene of Hugh cycling around Hope Street Yard (with Clarence sitting in the infamous yellow clog).
In many places, taking videos of people cycling requires waiting around for many hours, so when you see two or three people at a time you have to jump off your bicycle and quickly capture them. Clarence soon realised that this was not going to be a problem in Cambridge and instead just stopped wherever he wanted and took lots of shots of people of all ages on bicycles. The oldest was a 93-year-old, the youngest was probably three (although she was going too quickly to ask!).
The Campaign also made the most of Clarence’s visit and hosted a Q&A session and video screening of some of his favourite videos, including one of Groningen in preparation for the Campaign’s study tour. There was an excellent turn-out from interested campaigners who were keen to learn not only about what Clarence had seen around the world but also how we could produce excellent video footage to assist with campaigning.
A highlight from Clarence’s visit was the realisation of one of his dreams, to be number one on a bicycle counter. This was filmed with great comedic value at the Parker’s Piece cycle barometer after a very late night trying to get the timing right (a challenge considering the clock on the cycle barometer was incorrect).
Clarence also spent a few days in London before and after the Cambridge visit to interview Rod King from the 20’s Plenty campaign and capture the increase in cycling in London.
Streetfilms from around the world, including one about The Busway, can be seen at www.streetfilms.org. The official Cambridge film will be released in early August. In the meantime a preview can be seen at www.vimeo.com/133631594
Roxanne De Beaux