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Review:  ‘Bikes vs Cars’ shows how L.A., Copenhagen and other cities stack up

‘Bikes vs Cars’

Cyclist navigates traffic in São Paolo, Brazil, in the documentary, “Bikes vs. Cars.”

(Rodrigo Marcondes)

The Swedish documentary “Bikes vs Cars” surveys Los Angeles, Toronto, São Paulo, Brazil and Copenhagen to see how these modes of transportation compare. Each city in the case study presents a different dynamic in the oft-contemptuous relationship between drivers and cyclists.

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Its primer on our local transportation history is nothing short of comprehensive, encompassing the California Cycleway that opened in 1900, General Motors’ conspiracy to dismantle the local trolley system in the 1940s and 1950s, the Carmageddon of 2011, and recent efforts to implement bike lanes in Highland Park.

To give us an idea of how we measure up, we see how Torontonians lost hard-fought bike lanes along with proposed public transit extensions under the notorious mayorship of Rob Ford, how cyclists in São Paulo tirelessly campaigned for and won about 250 miles of bike lanes, and how 80% of Copenhageners own bicycles.

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Although the film qualifies as an advocacy documentary, director Fredrik Gertten has put in the time to capture how these cities’ unique scenarios unfold to mount a compelling case against the powerful automotive, oil and construction lobbies. Florencia Di Concilio’s lush orchestral score is icing on the cake.

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‘Bikes vs Cars’

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No MPAA rating

Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

Playing: Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood


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