An Unexpected Covid Silver Lining: Connecting the Global Bike Community

Contributor: Ayleen Crotty, Filmed by Bike

How the Filmed by Bike film festival persevered during this challenging time.

Movie theater marquee showing Filmed by Bike
Photo credit: Filmed by Bike

In the early months of 2020, people around the world stayed indoors, unsure of what activities were safe during the increasingly confusing and scary global COVID-19 pandemic.

For a while, there wasn’t yet any information on whether or not it was safe to ride bikes, especially in groups.

Group of people with caption Bike Culture, Happy Hour
Photo credit: Filmed by Bike

This had the bike culturists at Filmed by Bike concerned. “We worried about people’s mental health. We know bike riding is how many people stay mentally healthy and keep themselves feeling good physically,” says Festival Director Ayleen Crotty. “In addition to that, for many people riding bikes with others is their social outlet. There’s less pressure to talk and make eye contact while on a bike, which also makes it an important part of life for some people who struggle with social interactions.”

So Filmed by Bike decided to do something about it. As a film festival with, at that time, 17 years of experience and a deep film archive, they knew they could at least entertain people a little bit with some of the films they had on file.

“Of course, we couldn’t make all the challenges of quarantine and the pandemic go away,” Ayleen explains, “But if we could at least take people’s minds off it for a little while, we felt we could make a difference.


Two men bicycling with caption Bike Movies from Turkey with Love
Photo credit: Linus Herbig Matten

Filmed by Bike says they dusted off a rusty old YouTube channel that had never seen much action. They learned livestreaming and started broadcasting regularly. They interviewed bike enthusiasts, experts, and activists from all over the world. They hosted weekly happy hour hangouts to give people a chance to share what was on their minds as cyclists enduring the pandemic. And they, of course, hosted a series of bike movie events where people could tune in to watch movies online. There were people all over the world tuning in at the same time to watch the programs, and the chat windows lit up with comforting and comedic conversations.

“If we really think about it, this was something we had always wanted to do, but it was more of a pipe dream. We never thought we’d actually have the time or the opportunity to make online programming a reality. Quarantine certainly gave us the impetus to get things going. Once we started, we were hooked. We had so much fun truly connecting with people all over the world,” Ayleen explains.

2 men filming a movie on a remote trail
Photo credit: Annalisa van den Bergh

In one particularly interesting episode of their quarantine interviews, Filmed by Bike talked with touring cyclists like Erik Douds, who was stranded in India once quarantine regulations went into place. Erik, who is also a filmmaker and YouTuber (his channel is here), shared the story of how his bike tour was cut short, and he remained in India for quite some time.



Woman standing in front of a bicycle and banner that says Filmed by Bike
Photo credit: Filmed by Bike

The goal, Ayleen says, was to offer some lighthearted entertainment to people at a time when they needed it most. For bike enthusiasts all over the world, like Valerie Ruiz in Austin, Texas, it made a difference.

Valerie is the organizer of Sunday Cruise weekly rides in Austin, and Bike Story Night, a storytelling event that happens throughout the year. She’s used to being on bikes surrounded by many other people, but during quarantine that just couldn’t happen.

“I found Filmed by Bike during this time, and it was such a comfort to be able to watch the bike movies,” she explains.

Now Valerie is looking into the possibility of bringing Filmed by Bike to Austin to share the excitement of this festival in person with her regional community.


Inside image of a full movie theater
Photo credit: Filmed by Bike

The world has opened back up in many regions, and events are once again beginning to happen.

Filmed by Bike’s special Tour Program to make it easy for anyone from anywhere to host a movie event. Bike groups and clubs, riding teams, universities, and individuals like Valerie are putting on shows all over the world. These events are galvanizing bike communities, getting people excited about bikes, sharing a love for riding, and in the process, they’re raising funds for non-profit projects.


Check out the Filmed by bike website to see the array of bike movie offerings and their tour schedule. Follow them on Instagram @filmedbybike to learn more about what the international film festival is doing to bolster a unified and vibrant global bike culture.