The Best Amateur Music Videos in Support of Active Transportation

Transit and bike activists are creative folks. More and more young, car-eschewing millennials are making their case in amateur music videos. The result is funnier and more imaginative than anything you’ll find on basic cable.

Check out this one from the University of Michigan. Production value, casting, script — this video is almost too good. Extra points for creative use of puppets and originality in drawing on the tradition of the Broadway musical:

More than Broadway, however, the active transportation advocacy music video genre tends to draw its inspiration from hip hop. Who could forget this Legoman rap video promoting center-running light rail for Detroit? This was also produced by some wildly talented folks at the University of Michigan.

This is one of my favorites. TARC — that’s the Transit Authority of River City in Louisville, Kentucky — produced this rap video to explain how to use front-mounted bike racks on city buses. The rapper, Mr. Theo, is a bus mechanic during the day and a musician at night, reports Active Living by Design. And we LOVE the dancing bus drivers.

Now, here’s one that’s a little more serious. Produced by East Oakland’s Youth Uprising, it makes the case for East Bay Bus Rapid Transit, which was approved by Oakland City Council just last month. These kids have some real musical chops and pretty great picture quality and lighting.

Next, Houston’s The Transit Boyz — Ch-Chilly Chad, Jack Jack and Cool Hand Liam — are clearly bound for great things. These elementary students (with suspiciously post-pubescent voices) have starred in multiple music videos, styled after the Beastie Boys, proclaiming their love for transit.

Is one of these boys the next Justin Beiber? They’re awfully cute. Ch-Chilly Chad says his favorite color is blue and Cool Hand Liam says his hobby is “eating chocolate.” And we have to give them props for including puppets, as well as a dancing panda.

Although rap videos are clearly hard to beat, alternative rock is not to be completely unrepresented in our musical tributes to sustainable transportation. Gothamist carried four video odes to New York’s G Train, procuded as part of a contest by a Brooklyn bar.

We think this girl is sweet. Plus, it’s the first video we’ve seen that was actually recorded inside public transportation.

Here’s another gem. San Francisco power pop group The Real Numbers honors local bikeway “the Wiggle,” a winding route that makes dealing with SF’s famous hills a little easier. If this song doesn’t help you remember where to turn, nothing will.

And finally, not strictly a music video — but a fine video montage (set to music!) from the folks pushing for Atlanta’s transportation referendum. They lost the vote, but they won ours hearts with this clever production. Love the clips from Breaking Away. Classic!

So, transit loving filmakers, what lessons can we draw from this? Make your next transit or bike campaign creative and dial up the awareness by generating viral hits. Also, make sure you have a puppet or two on hand.

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