Originally published on Bikocity.
Did you know that General Motors slowly took over mass transit in the LA area and then all but eliminated it? Award-winning Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten informs us in his latest documentary, Bikes vs Cars — We Are Many, about this and much more. He creates a fascinating, educational study revealing more about bicycle culture than even avid bicyclists may know. Meanwhile, he juxtapositions this information against info regarding automobiles.
Gertten adds this new documentary to his remarkable list of progressive and informative documentaries, which also include Burma VJ, Bananas!*, and Big Boys Gone Bananas!*. This new film is worth everyone’s time. Up till now, we have seen many important documentaries break through to the mainstream. However, this could be the first feature-length documentary on bicycles to do so.
A Kickstarter campaign has been launched to fund this documentary. Check it out: BIKES Vs CARS — WE ARE MANY. Check out the trailer for a taster:
As the Kickstarter page notes: “Bikes vs Cars is not only a film, we are a part of a global movement. This feature-length documentary, a work-in-progress aiming for 2014 release, is meant to be used as an engine for all of us that think change is needed and possible…. The film will investigate the politics that keep the car model thriving.”
And here’s a note from director Fredrik Gertten
I was born in Malmö, Sweden, a city where the bike is the natural choice for going from one place to another. I’ve traveled the world wondering why there is so little space for bikes, why it’s so dangerous when it’s so much more fun to explore a city by bike. The car model as we know it has reached an extreme level with constant gridlock and millions of productive hours lost. The frustration is growing and cities need to look into new models.
The urban biking movement is growing. Beginning just for the passion, the freedom on the bike, it has evolved into a political movement asking for better city-planning, safe and separate bike lanes. We also suffer from the the anxiety of climate change, but we are at least doing something about it. In Copenhagen and Amsterdam forty percent commute within the city on bikes. Try to adopt that number to other huge cities in the world and you have an existing utopia.
Oftentimes it is documentaries that are the lifeblood of true education and social justice. There are so many to mention. This one looks like it will be up there with my favorite — The Garden, an amazing documentary revealing what became of the area of South Central LA in which Rodney King was horribly beaten. The documentary revealed that the area lay abandoned and essentially in despair until hardworking folks made it into an amazing organic community garden. There is much to that story, which involved numerous community activists and the ever-present humanitarian Daryl Hannah.
There are many lovely shorts that remarkably state the awesomeness of bicycles and bicycle-friendly places. Hopefully this will be the big one.
DC Streetsblog recently interviewed Gertten on the film and why he is using Kickstarter to crowdfund it. One of the significant images from the interview is here:
If you drive through the big American cities, you can see these big car pool lanes, and there’s no cars in the carpool lane. So there is one person in every car, and together they can consume all the space. Imagine if you 100 years ago said, ‘oh in the future we will all be sitting in big boxes and we’re not going anywhere, we won’t get anywhere because we’re all waiting for each other.’ Somebody, a professor in L.A., said that if you put all the space created for cars and you put it flat out in L.A., it would cover 80 percent of the livable area. Can you imagine selling that idea? People would say it was crazy.
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