A new 7-part public television series that examines bike culture in North America begins Saturday in some major cities, just in time for National Bike Month.
“Pedal America” is hosted by Ira David, a New York City native and avid cyclist who has criss-crossed the country many times on his bicycle to benefit charities and causes in the past.
Aiming to “educate, inspire, and motivate cyclists of all ages to rediscover the basic joys of cycling,” David and co-host Kati Lightholder visit far-flung locations to find examples of bicycling goodness in people and places for Pedal America.
Produced by Out-Write Media LLC and distributed by American Public Television, the half-hour weekly program is starting with a 78% coverage rate at PBS stations across the US. The list of cities where it’s showing includes Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, Detroit, Denver, Cleveland, Austin, Raleigh-Durham, Indianapolis, Columbus, Greenville-Spartanburg, Knoxville, Columbia among many others.
Missing from that list is Seattle. I contacted KCTS-9 to see if they had plans to air the show. A station spokesperson said the seven episodes had been recorded, were not scheduled to air immediately, but to check back in 5 weeks.
I certainly look forward to KCTS airing Pedal America in Seattle, a gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community and one of the Top 10 cities to ride a bike in the nation.
Pedal America episodes
Here’s a rundown of the episodes as shared by WTTW National Productions:
#101 – “Let’s Keep It Weird” – Austin, Texas
Austinites don’t just party, they celebrate with bicycles to give added value to the city’s motto “Let’s Keep It Weird.” Ira David hails Austin as a bicycle-friendly city when he visits a bicycle zoo and pedals in a bicycle parade. Journey along the Lance Armstrong Bikeway and Trail at Lady Bird Lake. A visit to Austin’s Yellow Bike Project teaches the role bicycles can play in giving back to the community.
#102 – “In Search of the Raystown Ray” – Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania
Learn the story of The Allegrippis Trail System at Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania as Ira David introduces mountain biking to beginners while hoping to catch a glimpse of this town’s version of the Loch Ness Monster.
#103 – “Y’all Pedal and Eat Now!” – Savannah, Georgia
Ira David tours southern Americana in historic Savannah, Georgia. Pedal around the city’s architectural squares and visit The Wormsloe Historic Site, Bonaventure Cemetery, and Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room for authentic southern fare; plus, a look at the city’s initiatives that helped to earn itself “bicycle-friendly” status from the League of American Bicyclists.
#104 – “Bike the Vine” – Napa Valley, California
Come for the wine, but stay for the cycling. From Calistoga to the city of Napa, Ira David pedals his way along wineries and art museums to showcase Napa Valley as a family-friendly bicycling destination.
#105 – “From Liquor Bottle to Water Bottle” – Chicago, Illinois
Ira David pedals along The Windy City’s magnificent lakefront and downtown neighborhoods to show why Chicago is consistently ranked among the top five bicycling towns in North America. Stops include Museum Campus, Soldier Field, and the Lookingglass Theatre Company. Also, meet one Chicago resident, a former chain smoker and alcoholic, who traded in his liquor bottles for water bottles when he discovered the benefits of bicycling.
#106 – “Women of Red Rock” – Sedona, Arizona
It took 230 million years for Sedona, Arizona to surface from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, but its receding waters left behind a spectacular field of red rock vortexes that many claim to heal and cleanse the body. Ira David pedals his road and mountain bike through the Bellrock Pathway and Mystic Trail to learn why women who visit Sedona choose never to leave and the role the vortexes and cycling have played in their newly found lifestyles. Learn about gear and apparel unique to women who bike.
#107 – “Living in Harmony” – Tampa & St. Petersburg, Florida
Ira David addresses the more serious issue of why this now “bicycle-friendlier” city was plagued with bicycle fatalities in 2009 and how the city responded to a create a dramatic increase in tolerance and understanding between cyclists and motor vehicle operators.
Where to watch
The first program in the series begins airing Saturday at WTTW11 in Chicago, home of WTTW National Productions, which is the presenting affiliate. Other cities on the list can run the program whenever they choose, so viewers will have to check local listings for dates and times.
The American Public Television website has a “Where to Watch” application on its Pedal America page to air in your search for stations airing the program.
This is a great idea for a series and I hope all the best for co-hosts David and Lightholder. The episode guide says the list is for Season One, so this may become a regular TV series.
The Pedal America website has a blog and other information about the series.