Saturday, November 28, 2015

Bikes will never replace cars

From Nick Schager in the Daily Beast (Why bikes can never replace cars):

Cities are congested with cars, and Bikes vs Cars’ answer to that problem is to do away with them—and to replace them with bicycles. Even if rising population numbers will make automotive travel a gridlock nightmare in the coming years/decades, Fredrik Gertten’s documentary forwards no cogent argument in favor of replacing fuel-based vehicles with bikes, for reasons that are painfully obvious. Cars allow people to travel tremendous distances (for work, for recreation, for basic life needs) at great speeds. They allow people to transport things with ease. They let people travel in numbers in a safe and efficient manner. And they afford people the opportunity to get around in horrible weather, cleanly—all things that are not possible, at least in any real way, with bicycles.

Nonetheless, Gertten’s film would have you believe otherwise, positing two-wheelers as the solution to a mounting crisis that, as one Sao Paulo bicycle activist opines, is leading to the collapse of the modern city. Those who live in major metropolitan areas might disagree with the dire view that our urban meccas are on the verge of total ruin. Yet such is the alarmist tone struck by Bikes vs Cars. When not sounding the siren about the imminent demise of our car-infatuated culture, the film lurches to and fro in search of different, barely related arguments to make against the car industry and the global misery and devastation it breeds.

That’s the film’s first shortcoming—namely, that it doesn’t really make a single, lucid point. The director begins by detailing the discontent of a few bike riders in São Paulo as well as an architect in Los Angeles, who lament cars’ status as the dominant mode of transportation in their cities...



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