In Sao Paolo, Toronto and Los Angeles, bicyclists are the brave few who fight against an overwhelming car culture, many of them paying for their devotion with their lives. Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten’s Bikes vs Cars recounts the lonely campaign waged by bicycle activists against cars in these cities, suggesting it’s no coincidence that Copenhagen and Amsterdam — which may be the only two cities in the world where a substantial percentage of residents commute by bike — are in countries with no automobile industry.
The mounting horrors of a car-dominated global economy are increasingly impossible for even car enthusiasts to ignore. Unending congestion, ever-longer commutes, exorbitant costs, wasteful land use, poor urban planning, air pollution and climate change — not to mention traffic deaths — seem like intractable problems.
Perhaps Gertten’s film manages its affable tone precisely because it could all be reduced to manageable size by the single, simple expedient of bicycles.