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Bikes vs. Cars 

Wednesday, Dec 2 2015
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Spoiler: The bikes win. (Philosophically, anyway.) Fredrik Gertten's documentary Bikes vs. Cars is proudly pro-handlebars and anti-steering wheels, and if it never makes a convincing argument for how to find a balance between the two, that's because it doesn't really try. Gertten looks at how the auto industry made bikes and public transportation effectively go extinct in the early-to-mid-1900s Los Angeles, as well as how activists around the world are working to make more bike-friendly cities. Copenhagen is held up as a shining example, while the pro-car forces are represented by the likes of Toronto mayor and noted hookers-and-blow enthusiast Rob Ford. Some of the ideas of Bikes vs. Cars have merit, but many — such as the suggestion to eliminate cars by making driving prohibitively expensive — have a noticeable whiff of able-ism, and the film pays only minor lip service to people for whom biking everywhere always is not an option. Bikes vs. Cars preaches to the choir, who may also accept film's questionable utopianism; indeed, one interviewee describes the famous 2012 "Carmageddon" closure of Interstate 405 as a utopia because, among other things, people ate in local restaurants that weekend. (So the desire to cross town is the real villain, then?) But the thing about utopias is they never last more than a weekend.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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