At half past six we stood with our guests Lerke Tyra, Dr. Stephan Keller, Norbert Czerwinski, Prof. Thomas Fenner, Dr. Suthold and moderator Jan Gathmann from Bike Tour Magazine in the foyer of the Metropol cinema. The slight fear that the number of spectators would remain quite manageable arose. Fifteen minutes later, the queue at the checkout extended to the street and Kalle Somnitz from the art cinemas asked why our visitors come so late. At least one reason for a delay became clear in front of the door, the area around Brunnenstrasse is not only a difficult place to park cars, the number of places where you can lock a bike is also quite manageable. At least this led to a funny bicycle sculpture right in front of the cinema.
At our request, there was a short trailer of the organization before “Bikes vs Cars”. World Bicycle Relief , which teaches us that the daily struggle of road users in our metropolitan areas is also an outgrowth of our lives of luxury and abundance. For many people, their radius is limited to the area that can be reached on foot. In rural areas of Africa, for example, the journey to school, work or a customer can be so long that a bicycle can change a life. And not just the life of the person who gets the bike, but sometimes the life of his entire family or those around him. The bicycle is known to be a very efficient invention that can still improve the quality of life in our high-tech world.
“Bikes vs. Cars” also sees the bike as a solution to our traffic problems, but the approach is of course different. While Africa is about bridging distances, in the world's metropolises it's more about resolving the gridlock and ensuring mobility again. Cars, as we use them today, take up too much space, too much energy and harm the environment. It doesn't matter whether they are moved or simply parked. The vanishing car remains a utopia for the time being. Space is too valuable a factor in cities to give much of it to a vehicle that is mostly used for trips under 5 kilometers away. Bicycles can help flow traffic because they can replace cars.
The participants in our post-film discussion have their own diverse relationships with cars, bikes and traffic, all of whom are certain that the bike is part of the solution to our problems. While a car-friendly city appeared to be a worthwhile status for planners, retailers and politicians some time ago, the realization has now matured that car traffic at least does not improve the quality of life in cities. In the past, the bicycle was happily removed from the road to ensure free passage for cars. Today it's getting back on the road, mainly because cycling is becoming more visible and therefore safer.
The past has proven that it doesn't matter how many roads have been or are being built for automobile traffic, they are not enough, because they always bring more cars with them, but cities have long since run out of space. Therefore, alternative concepts must be sought and found for conurbations. The bicycle made people mobile even before motorisation, and it still does today. If conflicting interest groups such as ADAC and ADFC and their representatives are largely of the same opinion, you can be sure that these are not empty phrases, but the simple realization that the path of motorized individual transport is so as we know it today has no future there.
The immense need for discussion that exists between urban planning, regulatory authorities and citizens on the subject of cycling became clear. Even if the approach in the film was more of a global nature, the citizens of the discussion group very quickly went to the local level, Düsseldorf was the topic. The city sets itself high goals: According to Dr. Keller, to be the most bicycle-friendly city in NRW in 2020. But it became clear on stage and in the auditorium that there is no traffic in empty space. Everything that happens happens almost exclusively on existing surfaces that have to be redistributed. And here the interests of all must be taken into account. Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians must be treated equally.
The bottom line is that the topic of traffic with a focus on bicycles obviously interests a wide variety of citizens. There is a need for information and exchange, a circumstance from which everyone can benefit. It is a pity that our local print media were not there to continue the discussion with their own resources. A topic that moves so many people certainly deserves a little more attention.
An exciting thought at the end: the film has to be shown in front of a car-loving audience. A cinema full of commuters who get stuck in traffic jams every day, full of drivers who demand more space for cars to park and drive. The perception and acceptance of the film will be different. It would be interesting with what results. Because everything we want to do differently in our future can only be done together, in consensus.
It remains exciting.
But since we from the cap are a bicycle café and bike shop, we can be a little biased. If only to include this wonderful quote from the Motor City Five here:
“Brothers and sisters, the time has come for you to make a choice. Are you going to be part of the problem or the solution. It is time to testify. And brothers and sisters, I want to know, are you ready to testify? I give you our testimonial, the MC5”
MC5, Detroit 1969.
See Bikes vs. Cars in cinemas while you have the chance. It is currently showing in a few local small cinemas, the Metropol is showing it again on 12/13/2015 at 12:30 p.m.
The film will be released on DVD in 2016.
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