Movie review of “Bike vs Cars”: The documentary makes the case that bicycles are the solution for the traffic woes strangling the world’s cities with gridlock and poisoning them with pollution. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.
The documentary “Bikes vs Cars” jumps all around the world — from São Paulo to Los Angeles to Copenhagen to Bogotá and Toronto, among many other cities in many other countries (though not, however, Seattle) — to make the case that bicycles are the solution for the traffic woes strangling those cities with gridlock and poisoning them with pollution.
Director Fredrik Gertten breaks little new ground as he salts the picture with statistics in support of interviews with bicycle proponents to buttress his theme.
Advocates include Raquel Rolnik, a São Paulo urban planner who asserts that traffic jams are endemic, and epic, in her city.
Movie Review ★★
‘Bikes vs Cars,’ a documentary directed by Fredrik Gertten. 91 minutes. Not rated; for general audiences. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.
Dan Koeppel, a Los Angeles-based writer and bike rider, provides a wistful minihistory lesson of a time — it was 1900 — when the L.A. area had a short-lived elevated bicycle freeway. Long-dismantled, its route is now occupied by the Pasadena Freeway.
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The picture presents a disheartening roll call of politicians under the sway of big oil and automotive companies, thanks to their big donations of campaign cash. And it points out that as middle classes grow in countries — China is a prime example — car use burgeons and bicycle use plunges. And smog worsens.
The most controversial cycle opponent shown is former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who vowed to end, on his first day in office, what he termed “the war on cars” and backed up that pledge by ordering the removal of the city’s bike lanes.
Despite what “Bike vs Cars” identifies as a growing passion around the world for a shift away from car-centric societies to bike-friendly ones, it’s difficult from the evidence presented on-screen to see how the world gets there from here.