PSAs Rock! Watch the Winners of TA’s “Biking Rules” Video Contest

As you may know, Transportation Alternatives put on a red carpet premiere Tuesday night for the "Biking Rules"
PSA competition at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The contest pitted
video entries against each other in two main categories: "Why Biking
Rules" and "Street Code."  

box_office.jpgVideos in the "Street Code" category encourage
people to use lights, bells, stop at red lights, ride with traffic and
generally ride safely and courteously. "Why Biking Rules" is pretty self-explanatory.

Out of some 80 total
submissions, about 40 PSAs (and a slideshow of photos) played to a sold
out theater. The shorts were truly impressive and scored a well-earned victory over George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, and Mariah Carey at the box office.

Above is one of the winning high-def entries in the Biking Rules category: "Lights Turn Heads," by Aldo Arias and Pam Tietze. You can see the rest of the winners here.

  • i don’t like the idea of that entire campaign — PSA’s to keep cyclists from killing people when cars are the real culprits — BUT — wow, that’s a pretty amazing video.

  • BB

    What was that thing by his pedals?

  • Alright, before I say anything else, I think all the other winners were absolutely superb!

    HOWEVER, I can’t understand how TA could have chosen the featured video as a winner?!?! The cyclist in the PSA “Lights turn heads,” is still breaking the law! I watched it several times and the rider never turns on a front headlight. At best (and I’m being VERY generous), it is unclear.

    I know of no state that allows cyclists to ride at night without a front headlight.

    While a technical and artistic triumph, any PSA promoting proper legal behavior no matter what the activity, must show everything done within the letter of the law otherwise it is a total failure. Heck! The rider is even wearing a helmet which is not required and I wouldn’t have cared if he didn’t. To me this oversight is totally unacceptable and would have eliminated the entry from a prize immediately if I were a judge. It is just as bad as if the creators of “Lights turn heads” then showed the rider riding the “Wrong Way” as was the theme of the other $2,000 winner.

    I sorry but I’m would have expected TA to be just as critical of the oversight. It’s a matter of credibility!

    I quote from the NY State Vehicle and Traffic Law – Article 34:

    Section 1236. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.

    (a) Every bicycle when in use during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible during hours of darkness from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red or amber light visible to the rear for three hundred feet. Effective July first, nineteen hundred seventy-six, at least one of these lights shall be visible for two hundred feet from each side.

  • Andy,

    I think you really need to chill out. It’s a very nice PSA, obviously the message is to ride with lights at night. I have no idea if there is a front light actually turned on in any of the shots, but I can say that this entire video is just a series of photos (if you look carefully those black “things” under the pedals are props to hold up the feet so it actually looks like they are riding.

    The filmmakers obviously wanted to concentrate on the red lights coming out of the back and to highlight that, because you can’t create shapes out of a front white light going forward.

    Since you never see a shot of the bike head on, you can’t even validly make your claim anyway. You got 30 seconds to pack a punch, sometimes you can’t show every single little thing.

    You are being extremely nit picky. If it was a 3 minute video on how you should ride a bike with proper lights at night, then of course you have a case if they never showed a light being turned on. Here it is a creative decision, turn the light on – cut to the artistic coolness – end promo. That’s all.

  • Clarence,

    I have the utmost respect for you and your work but I respectfully and firmly disagree.

    The devil is most definately in the details!

    Details are VERY important for a PSA about the legal operation of a bicycle, particularly at night. The PSA should have made a point to show a white light at the front of the bike or showed it being turned on like it shows the rear light being turned on. It could have easily been slipped in for 0.5 secs during editing. As is, the message is that ONLY a red rear light is necessary.

    I also would have expected TA to catch this and not let it slide.

    Like I said, “it’s a matter of credibility.”

    Otherwise I think it is a brilliant little piece of animation.

  • At 0:18 to 0:20 when the bikes are pictured from above, biking passed the sharrows, it is clear to me that they do not have front lights which is therefore demonstrating the illegal operation of a bicycle at night.

  • BicyclesOnly

    Andy, As you may know, TA’s “Biking Rules” campaign has drawn criticism from some who not unreasonably question why a cyclist and pedestrian advocate. should divert any resources from the urgent task of controlling the routine unlawful and life-threatening conduct of motorists, and toward instructing cyclists on the law (see Peter’s comment #1 above). These critics can rightly point to the culture of traffic lawlessness in NYC (motorists who routinely speed, fail to signal, or fail to yield or pass at a safe distance; pedestrians who routinely cross outside of crosswalks and/or against the light), and ask why cyclists should be held to a higher standard, particularly when those seeking to impose that standard rely on demonstrably false generalizations about dangers caused by urban cyclists. At the same time, we have large numbers of novice cyclists entering traffic over the last few years many of which don’t know the traffic laws (and an even larger number of anticipated cyclists who will enter the road if a well-designed, robust public bike share program can be implemented). So there is a need to educate cyclists about traffic safety, but given the overall lax NYC traffic mores and the and the discriminatory double-standard asserted against cyclists, you come off as unrealistic and preachy, and alienate more cyclists than you educate, if you demand 100% compliance wih all laws. There’s plenty of room for reasonable argument on where to strike the balance, but in my opinion, automatically excluding the “Lights Turn Heads” PSA because the bikes were not fully equipped with the lights required by law goes too far in the direction of unrealistic and counterproductive insistence on 100% law-abidingness for cyclists. And if you want a better understanding of the difficult context for cycling law and safety education in NYC, go visit a ride leaving from Union Square next Friday night, and see how far you get quoting from your VTL to the cyclists.

  • Matthew

    Andy, really, is that what you spend your time on? Perhaps the front light was a blinky and the shutter caught it on its off-phase? Reading your comment I thought I missed some front-on shots without a light, but a wide-angle from 12 feet up??
    Go volunteer with a bike group and stop this online armchair quarterback nonsense.

  • Andy’s right. There’s no front light, and there should be.

  • Such domination by the helmet! I wonder how many groups of people who – when planning or writing a submission – argued if the cyclists should be shown wearing helmets, and if to not do so would risk success since indeed TA pushes helmets in “Biking Rules”. Only of the winning videos shows no helmets. It’s non-scientific mind control!

    So, “Biking Rules” mixes something optional and controversial, though recommended by TA and some others (helmets) with something which is more of a philosophy than a law (pedestrian priority – which I agree with) or “bike salmoning” (which NYC Bike Snob uses as a negative, whereas I would argue that going upstream to spawn and perpetuate the species is natural in a watercourse or city with one-way streets and this desperately needs to be legalized) and with actual traffic codes of NY. It is an imprecise and even dangerous framework for cycle training.

    That said, “Lights Turn Heads” and the retro one are quite good examples of what should be expected from media makers in the media capital of the Universe. I am using the Beta version of “Helmet Blocker” (like Adblock) which digitally removes “head protection” to a level set by the user.

  • Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    There is simply no argument that can be made that the rider does not have a front light on. If the filmmaker is taking photographs (this was not video) whether or not the light is on may or may not show up. You can’t determine from above whether this is so.

    This is ridiculous. I have moved on.

  • (This is my last comment on this and maybe my last on Streetsblog)


    If your right and it is not realistic to expect bicycle advocacy organizations in New York City to teach and expect 100% law-abidingness of cyclists, then I want no part of those organizations.

    Just because there is a continued culture of lawlessness on the streets of New York City due to lax or non-existent enforcement (in my opinion) does not make it right for a bicycle organization not properly educate it’s constituency group.

    In this particular example you should know that lights do more to protect cyclists then anything else!

    Right now there is a quite a bit of a brew-ha-ha about bicycles and the law in Philadelphia. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia continues to demand that all cyclists follow all vehicle laws that apply to them, no exceptions, despite a rather high level of lawless behavior by motorists. That is exactly the position I would expect and demand of the Coalition.

    And Matthew, just click on the hyperlink on my handle if you want to see what I’m involved with, with regards to bicycle advocacy.

    Also, I’m a League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor (LCI) so that will probably give everyone a good idea why I’m such a stickler about this issue.

    Still wishing everyone a cycling utopia in NYC. Just don’t forget that bicyclist behavior is a critical part of that dream.


  • Andy – to paraphrase Lebowski, you’re not wrong, you’re just filling an internet comment board with something you’ve blown out of proportion. (Also I don’t think you can tell from those camera angles.)


    Nice PSAs all around.

  • Have no opinion worth posting about the aesthetic value of the PSA (okay: the music is off-putting in the extreme; it sounds identical to the music used to torture patrons at the IFC) but isn’t it weird that in a PSA about lights it’s not absolutely clear that this person’s front lights are on? It’s a PSA only about back lights? And isn’t it in the nature of PSAs to get all the general ethical things right, even if it kind of slows things down?

    And Mr. Todd Edelman, are you really advocating for bike salmoning? Personally, I’d rate it the most pernicious thing humans on bicycles regularly do to other humans on bicycles. I mean, when you’re bike salmoning at me, where am I supposed to go: into traffic? Thanks! Closer to car doors? Thanks! Great choices all around!

    As always, I’m grateful to all the other people on the road willing to sacrifice my life to their convenience.

  • John

    Sorry, that Category 2 Best DIY video is terrible. Just ugly and negative and looks like it’s a parody.


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