Reviews

You Never Bike Alone logo

In The Tyee, Dorothy Woodend describes You Never Bike Alone as:

"a lovely piece of agitprop. It isn't didactic, nor proselytizing, but blunt and straightforward. The people interviewed seem so sane, so reasonable and so utterly practical that I wanted to ride off in the sunset with all of them. The sight of so many people engaged in a happy act of civil disobedience makes my heart swell, but it's the sense of community that can go grow out of something as simple as riding bikes that prevails in the film."

Read The Tyee review

In The Vancouver Courier, Barry Link writes:

"...the sight of those hundreds of bikes gliding in an unending column across the Burrard Bridge is a beautiful sight to see."

and

"...a compelling and intelligent film. Deftly edited and covering a lot of ground in 80 minutes, it maintains an entertaining pace while examining and celebrating Vancouver's bicycle activists, with the Critical Mass movement at the centre of it.

Read the article and a response to the Vancouver Courier review by Russell Adams, a cycle advocate who is featured in the film.

The Vancouver Sun gave over almost a whole page of its Westcoast Life section for its review of You Never Bike Alone. The reviewer, Kevin Griffin, was mostly appreciative, although he wanted more on the history of Vancouver's cycleways.

"What Alstead's documentary captures is the absolutely exhilarating feeling of riding your bike with several hundred other cyclists on city streets."

Art Threat chose You Never Bike Alone as its "Film of the Week" (August, 2011), Ezra Winton writes:

"You Never Bike Alone is a great 82 minute documentary directed by Robert Alstead that looks at the history of bike activism in Vancouver from the 90s forward and reveals an overlooked history. Alstead accesses a ton of footage taken over the years at various bike-ins, protests and critical masses in Vancouver. The film shows how a sustained movement to get more street space for bikes, with itinerant ups and downs, has had an effect in a city very much at the heels of the autosaurus."

In Carbusters Magazine (issue 31, p.27), Prague, Robert Zverina writes:

"Robert Alstead's documentary about Critical Mass rides in Vancouver, Canada is the best film about the intersection of bicycle culture and civic involvement since Ted White's landmark film Return of the Scorcher (which, incidentally, gave Critical Mass its name).

Both filmmakers have a knack for capturing the humility and righteousness of citizen activists whose simple actions have far-reaching ramifications for the good of society.

Beyond practical information about successful campaigning (of which there is plenty), YNBA is distinguished by its visual and lyric sensitivity.

If you're upset with social and cycling conditions in your town but don't know where to begin to change things, watch this with a friend and take notes. It will provide ample creative inspiration for everyone from anarchists to urban planners and cyclists of every stripe."

In Momentum Magazine, Damon Rao writes:

"You Never Bike Alone is much more than just another Critical Mass documentary. It's a well constructed, historical sequence of events spanning the last 15 years of bicycle advocacy and activism in Vancouver"

The reviewer also posted the unabridged review on IMDB.

Uptown Magazine, Winnipeg gave You Never Bike Alone four stars in its review. Kenton Smith writes:

"an engaging documentary, showcasing a diversity of opinion within bike culture itself — while simultaneously advocating for that same culture."

Mark Wojahn organised a screening at Casket cinema in Minneapolis, Minnesota of You Never Bike Alone. Here's our first organiser's review from the Brave New Theaters network:

"This is a very good indy doc on Critical mass. The issue based film drew the biggest crowd to my microcinema so far. If you get the word out to the activist bicycle crowd (as we did), they will wheel to your place to watch this. I found the film very engaging but with a little too much Vancouver politics for me, but it makes complete sense for the filmmaker's region. Thumbs up!"

The Globe and Mail carried a round-up of films at the Moving Pictures Film Festival, with a paragraph on You Never Bike Alone. Rob Howatson writes:

"The most controversial film in the lineup, at least for Lotuslanders, is local journalist and pro-cyclist Bob Alstead's pedal-power documentary You Never Bike Alone. The film traces the history of bicycle activism in Vancouver, with a focus on the monthly Critical Mass rides that often tie up downtown's rush-hour traffic and act as a ticking time bomb for road rage. Most memorable scene: a 1997 confrontation between protesters and motorists on the Georgia Viaduct -- with a deafening Indy race roaring below."

The first "review" of You Never Bike Alone we know of was in a blog. In November 2006, Reg Harkema, director of award-winning drama Monkey Warfare, was in Vancouver for the premiere of his film. He braved the snow storm for the opening of You Never Bike Alone and writes about it on his blog. Here's the bit with his take on the film:

"Checked out this movie about the history of the Vancouver Critical Mass on Sunday. What could have potentially been a self-indulgent, nepotistic wank was actually a very thoughtfully constructed doc about a wide range of characters changing the urban landscape of Vancouver..."