Show #650 – May 5, 2024

Guests: Christian Sander; John Surico

Hello and welcome to TOC.  I’m your host Diane Jenks.  Thanks for tuning in today.

My first guest is Christian Sander, the producer and writer of Hard Miles, a full-length feature film starring Matthew Modine as Greg Townsend, a social worker who takes a group of incarcerated teenage boys on a 762-mile bike trip to the Grand Canyon.  It’s based on a true story – there really IS a Greg Townsend and he really has taken thousands of kids on this trip.  In fact, Greg was on set every day during the shooting of the movie!

Brian and I went to a local theater last weekend to watch the new movie Hard Miles and we LOVED it!  Unlike so many cycling movies that focus on competition, Hard Miles is about how the bicycle can be a vehicle of transformation, especially to kids serving time in a juvenile detention center.

Christian Sander has known about Greg Townsend, the central character in the movie, for quite some time and saw this story as a movie long before he was able to bring it to the screen.

Greg is played by award winning actor Matthew Modine along with 4 great young men who learn all about how difficult it is to ride a bike 8 hours a day! Cynthia McWilliams, who was the star of Real Husbands of Hollywood, plays the “keep-em-in-line” psychologist Haddie who grudgingly drives the SAG wagon.

The film lives up to everything Christian said and I’d highly recommend it.  If you can’t find a big screen in your area, it will be available streaming later on this summer.  

NY is about to pass a bill regulating eBikes and there has been chatter on some of the bike forums about it.  After hearing the statistics about eBikes in NYC, I think regulation is probably necessary.  There is also a new congestion fee going into effect at the end of June and the money raised will be used for some really important transportation issues.

With almost 700,000 daily cycling trips in NYC, John Surico estimates that at least half of these trips are on an eBike.

And with that kind of ridership, there are a LOT of issues that are beginning to affect transportation in the City.  So next step?  Regulation.  There is a bill about to be brought up for passage in the State legislature.

In addition to what that legislation might look like and who will be affected by it, John and I talk about congestion pricing that will charge cars being driven in Manhattan and how that money will be used to update public transportation among other things.

You can keep abreast of what John is doing by subscribing to his newsletter Streetbeat on Substack.  Even if you don’t live in NY,  John’s insights are most enlightening on a variety of topics.

May 5 Transcript



Show #642 – January 20, 2024

Guests: John Surico; Roff Smith

Happy New Year everyone!  I’m back for a new season of the show and today we begin with conversations with two guests we’ve spoken with in the past.

First up is John Surico.  John’s work is all about sustainability, safety, cities, and transportation.  He melds it all up on his Streetbeat blog on Substack and today we’re going to look back at some things from 2023 as well as look forward to his work in 2024.

In his latest Streetbeat newsletter on Substack, John Surico tells us about Hoboken, NJ, where there have been zero – none, nothing nada – traffic fatalities for 7 consecutive years.  What? Really?  Contrast that with 43 cycling deaths in NYC, just across the river.

We also look at what the Mayor is thinking, with a bit of “NYC can do that too,” and about the expansion of the East Coast Greenway in all 5 NYC boroughs.

Then, we review a new book from National Geographic by photographer/journalist Roff Smith.  Last time we spoke with Roff it was during the pandemic and he created some of the most beautiful and thought-provoking visions for us to gaze upon in a dark and difficult time.

Now, in his new book, 100 Bike Rides of a Lifetime, he offers up great options for every level of cyclist- from the novice to the pro.  It’s one of those books where you can flip to just about any page and say – “yeah, I want to do that!”

While he’s ridden many of the routes he details in the book, he depended upon seasoned riders to fill in the blanks on rides that he believes fit the description, but which he hasn’t done himself. 

The book is definitely a great addition to your cycling library and might just be the ticket for your next adventure.

I’ve also added a photo of his “narrow boat” that will be his home for the next project, as you heard in our conversation.      




January 20_Podcast_Transcript