Bicycle Film Festival Boston, with Joshua Kampa.

This week the Bicycle Film Festival hits Tokyo and Boston.

In my ongoing series of interviewing festival directors in various BFF cities I spoke with Joshua Kampa who is running things for Boston. He is the owner of the new bicycle shop in Somerville, MA called Open Bicycle. This is one busy cyclist but he was kind enough to take a minute and tell me about what’s going on for BFF Boston and the local bicycle culture.


-Name. Age, where you live (ride)

Joshua Kampa, 30, Owner of Open Bicycle in Union Square, Somerville, MA. I live up the street on Spring Hill, in Somerville. It’s like the Brooklyn of Boston, but Brooklyn 10 years ago.

-what bikes do you own?

Daily ride is a somewhat beat-up Kiyo Miyazawa track frame with a mix of Japanese and Italian track components. MTB is a 69’er-ed rigid Surly 1×1 that has lived through many different incarnations- cargo bike, XC machine, commuter. Road bike is a box of NOS Sugino 75 road components waiting for the right frame- sold my ’79 Paramount (and everything else) to fund the shop start-up…

-what will be your next bike purchase?

That perfect (and hypothetical) ’84 Rossin Ghibli C-Record machine, whenever it hits ebay….

-what got you involved in the BFF?

Boston needed a producer and I seem to have a masochistic streak.

-has the BFF been to Boston before? How did it go?

Last year was the 1st year I attended BFF in Boston- I’m formerly a Minneapolis kid. It was fun last year but a bit spread out and under-represented. This year is going to be amazing.

-what’s going to be going on this year?

We’ve got some great parties and events lined up with loads of local and national sponsors bring out the goods to help support them. Boldsprints and DJs kick of the weekend at Middlesex Lounge on Friday night, and a cool brunch / specialty shop & framebuilder tour will take attendees on a trip around the area on the way to the screenings. A late-night alleycat will get the Festival attendees thirsty for the Afterparty at Flat Top Johnny’s.

-who’s coming out?

Anyone who’s anyone and all of their cool friends.

-any local films or filmakers in this years festival?

Local helmet-cam celeb Lucas Brunelle has a film in the Urban Shorts screenings, as well as my Good Friend Steve Shinnerer for Quarter Productions, who shot a little tounge-in-cheek video about our shop last winter (on the coldest day of the year, to boot).

-what do you hope people ride away with from the festival?

A sense of the very positive and creative global community of cyclists that they are a part of. The Festival, to me, acts as a record of the evolution and power of the rapidly changing worldwide bike culture.

-what is the bike culture like in Boston, critical mass? Bike polo? Alleycats? Freestyle fixed gear?

All of the above. Boston is home to a very diverse community of students, professionals, families, and creatives. Despite the narrow and confusing streets, cycling runs in our blood here, and it is displayed in many forms and subcultures. Alleycats are a near-weekly occurrence, the local polo kids are pushing to have the North American finals here in 2010, and our shop sponsors some of the most cutting edge fixed gear freestyle riders on the East Coast… not to mention the strong community of commuters and car-free citizens of Boston the surrounding metro and their rides, parties, and advocacy.

-good places for cyclists to hang out at?

At my shop, Open Bicycle, of course. We host monthly art receptions in our attached gallery, Chorus, and provide an open community spot for folk to learn about and work on their bikes. There’s a ton of decent pubs, cafes, and clubs to meet-up for rides or end the evening at- I’d tell you my favorites but then the secret would be out…

– what’s it like biking in these cities?

Boston is no Minneapolis, but it’s getting better. The winters are kinder 😉

-how is the bike infrastructure? What needs the biggest improvements?

Mayor Menino has appointed a Bike Czar to help the city get in line with the infrastructural improvements that many other US and global cities are implementing. Things are improving, slowly, as they tend to, but we are seeing new bike lanes, lock spots, and cyclist rights laws all the time.

Bike sharing?

That’s a tough one. I just read an article about the Velib program in Paris and the fact that 80% of the original bikes have been stolen or damaged beyond repair. I think it’s at heart an awesome idea but subject to some of the fundamental flaws that stem from the nature of contemporary urban psychology and culture. There are several bike rental and tour companies, and that serves the tourists and visitors well…

-your future cycling goals?

Global culture change? No, I’d settle for incremental but steady improvement. And a week off for a tour up to Nova Scotia.

-anything you’d wished I’d asked you?

Actually, now that you mention it, there are some amazingly wonderful people you should check out:


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