The newly released documentary Bikes vs Cars is for bikes, what Food Inc and Forks Over Knives was for food.
The film follows cyclists from major cities around the world, including Sao Paulo, Los Angeles, and , Toronto exploring what it is like to bike in that city. The answers range from difficult to deadly.
The cyclists in the film then seek to uncover why this is so.
Why is transportation infrastructure promoting further and longer car drives, failing to move people about the cities any faster, and not offering viable alternatives?
The cycling advocates in Bikes vs Cars quickly discover that city infrastructure is directed and funded at every level and in every country by the automotive industry.
Inspired to continue cycling and promoting a movement toward cycling as primary transportation, and also defeated at the idea that the system is so big, and so against my favor.
And Bikes vs Cars also highlights consumerism. Cars were once a novelty status symbol of the elite, now cars are seen as a basic necessity. But this perspective was carefully cultivated over decades by the automotive industry, which - in possibly the greatest marketing ploy known to man - has crafted transportation systems in most every developed country that have made owning a car a basic requirement to living.
After watching Forks Over Knives or the slew of similar investigative-style documentaries released over the past few years, many Americans considered that their food choices (and health outcomes) were in fact, not made by them in the aisles of the grocery stores, but in sneaky legislation passed after closed-door meetings with Monsanto millionaires and our elected officials. Bikes vs Cars has the potential to show motorists that maybe they never actually wanted to buy that car, maybe the decision to buy that car was made over their head and behind closed doors, in an attempt to get their money and keep them busy. Sure it sounds a bit tin-foil-hat-ish, but don’t all cover-ups sound outlandish until we learn they are true?
My takeaway from Bikes vs Cars was to make better choices. We live in a society that requires some amount of commuting and also some form of monetary exchange. So I will always be among cars and money…. but it doesn't have to be a war between two ideologies. I can make better choices.
Buying a bike is still a consumerist prerogative, but the choice to bike is much more sustainable for my health and the health of others in my community. If you choose to buy a new bike, bike companies, on the whole, exercise more sustainable business practices. And they create products that are designed to last decades or lifetimes, so, unlike cars, bikes can be recycled and rebuilt for cheap or free. Choosing to buy or build a bike and start cycle-commuting is a poignant consumerist choice that detracts from the glorification, and feeling of necessity, of driving a car.
It is a way you , personally, can make a change for yourself and your community.