- This Week
The Fossil Fool pushes bicycle advocacy in the direction of music, art and parties
05.10.11 - 6:02 pm | Steven T. Jones |
Freedman, who studied at Harvard, has designed innovative sound and lighting systems for his art bikes.PHOTO BY ADAM AUFDENCAMP
FF Yeah, I feel that transportation choices are the main thing people need to examine about their lives with respect to their impact on global warming. And that's not just a feeling, that's the consensus of the Union of Concerned Scientists. They say that if you want to have an impact on the planet, positive or negative, the first thing you should consider is your transportation habits. So that means flying, it means driving, and everything else. I don't think it's really beneficial to focus on what people need to do with a car, like they need to drop their kids off. It's more important how people do the optional things with cars like the trips to Tahoe, and the flights to Mexico. It's those optional things I want to focus on, which is why I'm so interested in Sunday Streets, which is like the antidote. It's this thing you can do here, that you can walk and bike to, that's as fun as driving to Tahoe.
SFBG Through your technology and design work, it also seems like you're showing a broad range of what people can do on a bike, with lots of cargo or a whole performance stage setup. Do you think design is convincing people that bikes are more versatile that they thought they were?
FF Oh yeah, I think that would be a really beneficial outcome of this work. By riding through town with our music gear, of course people are going to look at that and think, oh yeah, I could probably go to Rainbow Grocery and buy a bunch of food for my household on a bike. So it would be a great outcome if people would make that connection.
SFBG Is there anything about San Francisco that makes people here more receptive to your message?
FF San Francisco is a very tight city geographically. It's not like Phoenix. The blocks are pretty short here and the distances are pretty short here, and you can ride year-round here, which is not true in Boston where I grew up.
SFBG The focus on technology and design here also probably helps, right?
FF Oh, for sure. This is an awesome place to be prototyping and doing funky mechanical, electrical art. There's a lot of support for it. There are places like Tap Plastics for learning about fiberglass. There are lots of electronics stores that serve the Silicon Valley tech developer communities. You can buy stuff there that's helpful. You can learn about Arduino [an open source microprocessor] at Noisebridge. There are a lot of resources for doing interactive art here or for doing bicycle-related projects. There are a lot of welders here.
SFBG Where do you think we are on the arch with this stuff — the beginning, the middle? — in terms of gaining wider acceptance of biking as an imperative and an option for anyone?
FF I think there's an important generational shift underway, and I don't know whether it's my focus on bikes that leads me to meet all these kinds of people, but it feels like I'm meeting more people these days that are going to pick their next city or their next neighborhood based on how it is to bike there. They're bringing it up in conversation, it's not me. So it seems like people are really considering what their daily life is going to be like and how the community feels, and biking is one of the symbols of a whole swath of other beneficial things. They know that if they see a bunch of bikes when they visit a place, then there's probably a lot of other cool stuff like music, arts, farmers markets. Those kinds of things are sort of linked together, and the bike is the key indicator. So there's been this generational change of thought. The idea that having a bigger, faster car is better, I just don't think that's popular with these people. They no longer believe it.
SFBG It's having cooler bike.