Bicycle Film Festival-Houston and an Interview with New Orleans

So the Bicycle Film Festival is also in New Orleans and Houston this Weekend.
(schedule for Houston)
BFF Houston_online postcard-thumb
Here is a video from the Houston Fixed Gear scene:

Houston Fixed Chopped and Screwed from donny hall on Vimeo.

I got a chance to interview Kate Drabinski who is the festival director of New Orleans:

-Name. Age, where you live (ride)

Kate Drabinski, 34, New Orleans, LA

-what bikes do you own?

I ride an old cruiser gifted to me by a good friend that gets me around town on my daily commute. I’ve also got a Surly Long Haul Trucker for when I want to clip in and pedal for hours. God, I love that bike.

-what will be your next bike purchase?

I love my Surly, and I want another one. Pacer, please.

-what got you involved in the BFF?

Like most things, happenstance. Another BFF producer ran into one of my old college friends selling baked goods at the Memphis farmer’s market. They started talking, then talking bikes, and my blog about riding bikes around New Orleans came up. BFF needed a local contact, and I was contacted locally.

-has the BFF been to New Orleans before?

Nope, it’s the first year of what will hopefully be a long run. We like bikes and movies in New Orleans, so it’s a good match.

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

We’ve got an opening night party with goldsprints and a dj and then the film fest followed by an afterparty at the Saint, a great bar in the Lower Garden District. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

-who’s coming out?

All the cool kids, natch. By which I mean everybody who likes bikes, movies, or both.

-any local films or filmakers in this years festival?

Frederic King, one of the producers of B.I.K.E., is originally from New Orleans and one of the directors, Anthony Howard, lives here now.

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

I hope folks ride away with a sense of the many ways one can live a life on a bike.

-what is the bike culture like in New Orleans, critical mass? Bike polo? Alleycats? Freestyle fixed gear? Mutant bike events?
nola bike polo
NOLA is a great place to bike. We’ve got bike polo, monthly critical mass rides, Saturday group rides for the racers, and a heck of a lot of bicycle commuters and recreational cyclists. Lots of people don’t have cars here, for a wide variety of reasons. People really do go by bike here.

-good places for cyclists to hang out at?

If you are willing to be creative about your bike rack, there’s no end to the good places to hang out. You’ll find us at one of our many bike shops, on the levee bike path, in coffee shops and bars in every neighborhood—we’re everywhere. You’ll find lots of us at Rue, Mojo’s, Envie, Flora’s, or Sound when we want coffee, the Saint (home of our afterparty!), Allways Lounge, the Hi Ho, or Molly’s when we want beer, and Bicycle Michael’s, Mike the Bike Guy, Bayou Bicycles, or Bicycle World when we’re picking up yet another patch kit. But really, we’re everywhere.

– what’s it like biking in these cities?

This city is flat as a pancake, the weather’s temperate, you’ve got huge numbers of fellow travelers. There is absolutely no reason not to bike everywhere. The wonderful people over at Nolacycle will tell you how to get there.

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

New Orleans is a poor southern city with the infrastructure that comes with that. I have never seen potholes like the ones we’ve got here. The roads themselves are the biggest hazard. We’ve got a couple of bike routes, though—the bike lane on St. Claude that takes you from the Marigny through the Lower 9th Ward, the lane up Jefferson Highway to Mid-City, and the levee paths. The Metro Bicycle Coalition is actively working to improve the situation as the city continues reconfiguring its post-Katrina infrastructure.

-your future cycling goals?

I want to ride the entire Mississippi River bike path. And retrace the Underground Railroad route. And bike to the Hoover Dam. I’ve always wanted to see the Hoover Dam. I’ve got an entire lifetime to go by bike, thank goodness.
-anything you’d wished I’d asked you?

Are you interested in continuing to help the New Orleans recovery effort, and you’re in to bikes? Please consider checking out and donating to one of the several fantastic bike groups in town, rebuilding the city one bike and one bike route at a time:

RUBARB bike workshop (picture of Rubarbike)
RUBARB bike rodeo

And check out my blog about riding in New Orleans!

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