The winner of an award at the Green Shorts Film Festival last spring, Ride is a two-minute film about riding your bike to work in Santa Barbara that features commuter Seinn Schlidt, and ponders why so few people are willing to do so in places near and far. Director Chris Yasko recently answered some questions via email.
Does Seinn still ride his bike to work everyday?
As a matter of fact, Seinn does ride every day to work — even in the rain.
You state that less than 1 percent of the country commutes. Why do you think more American don’t ride to work?
I can understand in a larger city where it might be more dangerous or where long commutes might prohibit more people from biking but the whole idea of the movie really grew out of this question and I’m not sure I have an answer.
Awhile back when I first started riding to work, I had this ongoing conversation with a coworker who also commuted by bike and we were wondering aloud about how few people we’d see on the road but how inspiring it was getting it to and from work every day. Later when I was doing a little research about bike commuting, it turns out that Santa Barbara is actually one of the communities where the numbers are pretty high. I don’t remember the exact figure but I want to say that like 6 percent of people in Santa Barbara commute by bike, which is actually pretty close to Portland which is one, if not the, leader in bike commuting in the nation.
Even with those high figures locally it really seems like the bike lanes are pretty empty aside from all the weekend road cyclists.
Your film is also a great travelogue of Santa Barbara’s nicer spots but also some of our slightly more urban settings too. How did you decide to film where you did?
Thanks for noticing that. Actually some of that came from where Seinn rides every day like, for instance, Butterfly Beach, but I did make a conscious decision to show some more unusual areas so the audience wouldn’t get to hung up on seeing one scenic spot after another. I did this because I think another aspect of being on a bike is that you really get to see things from a different perspective than you do in a car. It’s a really different viewpoint and you see things you normally might not notice and I felt like if I showed some places that the audience might not recognize I might capture a little bit of that experience in the film.
Has your film inspired anyone you know of to bike to work?
You know, I don’t think too many people have seen the film but I’ve had some great feedback from people who say that it has inspired them to ride. I am really proud to say that the spirit of the film had a big impact on the ad agency where I work to significantly reduce waste and energy usage and even pursue an official “green” designation from the city. After seeing the film there was a great enthusiasm and excitement about the small ways we can all make a difference and next thing I knew several people across the agency had put together a “green” committee to look at all the ways we could be more responsible environmentally which has been a really great outcome that I never saw coming.
Ride screens as part of the Santa Barbara Shorts on Thu., Jan. 31, 4:30 p.m,, at the Lobero Theatre and Sat., Feb. 2, 7 p.m., at the Museum of Art.