Twelve years ago, Brendt Barbur was happily riding his bicycle through the streets of New York City when one oblivious driver doored the hapless biker, throwing him into the path of an oncoming bus. “I saw the light,” Mr. Barbur said, quickly adding, “just kidding.” While he was able to walk away from the accident with limbs in tact, it inspired him to found the Bicycle Film Festival (adorably acronymed BFF) to “do something positive for bikes,” he said. Since its 2001 founding, the festival has traveled to over 30 cities around the world, including Moscow, Sydney, Paris, San Francisco and, of course, New York. This weekend BFF is back for the 12th annual Bicycle Film Festival NYC, and before the credits roll tonight at Anthology Film Archives, Mr. Barbur sat down with The Observer to talk about snooty bikers, lemonade massages and Meryl Streep’s secret biking fetish.
What’s the best bicycle scene in a big time movie?
One of the most tragic scenes is when the son in Bicycle Thieves sees his father get caught stealing another bike. And I really like Large Marge in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure–when the guy at the diner is telling the story about Large Marge. That was just funny. But there aren’t too many Hollywood movies [about bicycles]. I guess there’s Quicksilver. The messengers are doing tricks on their bikes.
Who is your favorite New York bike celebrity?
I don’t know her at all, but I heard Lucy Liu was riding a bike. She’s just cute. I also heard that Meryl Streep was. Oh my god. I’m not supposed to say that … I don’t think Meryl Streep wants people to know she rides bikes. I know that Cindy Sherman’s riding bikes. I like her. I’ve named all women so far, haven’t I? My favorite really is Blonde Redhead. I don’t know if they’re celebrity or an unknown band. Oh! Matthew Modine–my only celebrity friend is Matthew Modine.
What do you think of Mayor Bloomberg’s new bike-share program?
I’ve used the one’s in Paris and Montreal and London, and I think it’s great that people are talking about bikes.
What’s your favorite bike route in New York City?
I do really enjoy going over the Williamsburg Bridge. The view is nice and the hill.
What is the most ridiculous New York biker habit?
I think it’s really funny how new bikers are kind of snooty toward other bikers. You can tell they’re new bikers. Bicycle etiquette is very funny.
One film in the festival this year, Line of Sight, has gotten some flack for the crazy stunts it features. What is the wildest bicycle stunt that you’ve ever done?
At the Bicycle Film Festival, I had to jump on a BMX in front of hundreds of people, and I hadn’t done that since I was a kid. I’ve done a lot more wild things. I mean, I’ve ridden all over the world. I think I’ve ridden with three people on my bike before. Well, two people, three including myself. Someone on the handlebars and then someone with their feet on the bolts on the back wheel.
After a really long bike ride, what’s your favorite thing to do to relax?
I like to get a massage. The pros, they get massages before and after races. And maybe some lemonade. A lemonade massage. On our roof garden. You should see our roof garden. It’s a beautiful roof. So, a massage and lemonade on my roof garden.
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