Posted by: greercn | February 20, 2016

Bikes vs Cars

Air pollution, climate change and issues about the environment are the most important issues on this planet. We can’t solve poverty, the refugee crisis or hunger unless we address this crisis.

Yet, it’s easy to be a bore, when you are obsessed by campaigning. Even my best friends lose patience, when I go on and on. And I do go on and on.

In 1970, I helped to plan the first Canadian Earth Day. I read every book, demonstrated in a gas mask, demanded others stop using plastic bags and believed in my heart that the alarmists were right and that the world would end in 1975.

My mother said that I wished for a bicycle and world peace, when I blew out the candles on my 11th birthday cake. How I had so many friends, I cannot even imagine. I cringe as I remember how very serious I was about roping others into my obsessions.

Nowadays, I am Most Old and I helped run a screening of “Bikes Vs Cars” at the Wanstead Tap pub, last Thursday. Our Transition Leytonstone group attracted more than 60 people and the venue was packed.

The movie offers a thoughtful look at alternatives to car use. People in Sao Paolo, Los Angeles, Toronto and many other locations discuss their activism as cyclists on road networks built for cars.

Fredrik Gertten has written and directed a very charming documentary that offers innovative ideas about increasing the use of bikes in cities. There is an anti-car bias and you might question some of the facts here – I did – but the 90 minutes pass quickly and provoke your thoughts.

Young and old cyclists present their views on the traffic situation in their city. The only car drivers here are thoughtful about decreasing gridlock and the need for alternatives. Fans of “Top Gear” should look away, now.

We had a question and answer session afterwards with cycling campaigner Donnachadh McCarthy. He is charismatic, charming and knowledgeable and offered us new ways of being active in defending the alternatives to cars. The questions were plentiful, thoughtful and largely from a pre-convinced band of people. Everyone loved Waltham Forest’s Mini Holland scheme, although none of the people I spoke to live in Walthamstow Village.

It was a great evening. I enjoyed introducing the film, chairing the questions and meeting lots of great people.

Would you like to see more films that offer sustainable alternatives? We’d love to do this regularly. You can find us on the Transition Leytonstone Facebook page or come along to our Green Drinks at the Walnut Tree pub near Leytonstone station at 8pm on the 15th of each month. Look for the big green tablecloth.

Next time we use the wonderful Wanstead Tap, I will try not to get lost. In fairness to my usually good sense of direction, the Tap is tucked into a railway arch and hard to find, the first time. It’s a venue that’s worth finding.

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