From 2000 to 2013, bicycle commuting saw a 62% growth nationwide, according to a report by the League of American Bicyclists. In his latest documentary, Kickstand, local filmmaker Keith Ten Eyck takes a comprehensive look at the current state of cycling, using Cleveland as a case study to explore the growth of bicycling culture and its effects on urban areas.
Having never driven a car or received a drivers license, Ten Eyck found inspiration for the film from his own daily interactions as an avid cyclist. “When you’re on a bike in a motor city, designed specifically for cars—where cycling infrastructure is sparse and undoubtedly inadequate—you’re a minority,” he said. “With that stigma, you’re marginalized. From cars not seeing you and almost hitting you, people harassing you, let alone abysmal potholes.”
Kickstand tackles complex questions such as how cycling can boost our economy or lead to a paradigm shift in mass transit. Speaking with local lawmakers like councilman Joe Cimperman and Chief of Sustainability, Jenita McGowan, the film touches on the progress and pitfalls facing the city in its efforts to expand and improve the infrastructure to meet the demands of a growing cyclist community.
Through interviews with historians from the Western Reserve Historical Society, local shop owners, and fellow bike advocates, Kickstand chronicles the history of cycling from the Good Roads Movement of the 1890s to modern day critical mass. In certain cities in Europe and Asia, cycling has been a long established means of transportation, supported by the large number of cyclists and the attendant infrastructure . In contrast, it’s clear that the U.S. is still in its infancy. Kickstand aims to ignite a movement stateside to follow in the footsteps (or pedal revolutions in this case) of our more advanced overseas counterparts. “Cleveland is simply behind as far as infrastructure and education goes. The numbers however, in growth of bicycling culture here, have proved there is a need for world class infrastructure,” Ten Eyck urged. “We are looking to define why and highlight that it’s not only possible, but will undeniably be a part of Cleveland’s continual resurgence as a great American city.”
This summer, Ten Eyck and producers at Transitions Studios will begin the process of shopping for a distribution deal, hoping to secure a spot on national television or as a Netflix documentary—both of which would provide them greater opportunity to share the joys of cycling while reaching communities like Cleveland all over the United States. Kickstand at its core is a call to action, promoting the need for better education among motorists and cyclists, while encouraging audiences to engage in the conversation and ask themselves—what does the future of my city look like?