By Dean Campbell
Tales of a Yellow Bike takes viewers on a journey around to world to discover different versions of Bikeshare programs. Visits to France, the Netherlands, Columbia, China and the United States allowed her to explore multiple approaches to bike sharing, and the relationship the world has with bikes.
In late 1997, Hahn was approached by Todd Parsons at the Community Bicycle Network (CBN) to create some public service announcements for the soon to be introduced Bikeshare program. Though the PSAs never materialized, the conversations planted a seed for a future project, Tales of a Yellow Bike, a film all about the bike, what it means to people around the world, and how one of the first Bikeshare programs is now facing its own reinvention.
“I thought it was a great idea for a documentary, even back in 1997,” said Hahn. “Back then there was no broadcaster interest, so nothing came of it.” Hahn continued to stay in touch with the folks at Bikeshare, and almost ten years after her initial contact, she received a phone call from Maogosha Pyjor, Bikeshare Project Manager. The program had failed to receive funding and was to be shut down.
With just 24 hours notice, Hahn scrambled to arrange a crew and get to the meeting where the end of Bikeshare would be discussed. The start of her film project came at the end of the Bikeshare program as it was known at that time. “I knew the film couldn’t be a doom and gloom story, as people want to know what they can do (to make change),” said Hahn. Working with Pyjor, Hahn developed a pitch that focused on the use of bikes around the world, and how different places view and utilize bikes in their daily routines. OMNI television stepped up with funding and the plan was put in motion.
The film was first screened at the Toronto Planet in Focus film festival in October 2008, and has since been shown worldwide, with screenings in China, Vancouver, and Israel. “In Vancouver, someone came up to me and said, ‘You’re the bike lady, right?’” said Hahn. “It’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.”
Those interested in watching Tales of a Yellow Bike are in luck – OMNI television will air the documentary in the the fall of 2009. Those hoping to see Toronto’s Bikeshare reborn may also be in luck. During the interview, Hahn and momentum visited CBN to rent a yellow bike. When we arrived, four students were heading out on rented yellow bikes, and upon our return two young women were delighted to see us returning so they could take their turn.
True to Hahn’s desire to offer a constructive commentary, the film looks at the best systems in use today. “What we saw when making the film was that change can and will happen,” said Hahn. “There has to be a fundamental shift, and we just have to figure out how to trigger it.”
Dean Campbell is a freelance writer specializing in sport. When he's not on one of his bikes, he's usually thinking about them. firstname.lastname@example.org