The bicycle, a humble nineteenth century invention, is challenging the fossil-fuel automobile as the conveyance of the future. It’s the ideal city machine, light, portable, and cheap. Non-polluting. Good exercise too. Urban dwellers around the world are turning to bikes as the car turns them off. But with bicycles coming of age as a serious mode of transportation there are a few problems. Bicycles and automobiles have to share the same roads, a recipe for conflict, and many potential cyclists just won’t ride in the city because they see it as too dangerous. Add in the plague of bike theft and a lot of cyclists are simply leaving their bikes at home.
The film wraps around the story of Igor Kenk, a man variously described as the Greatest Bike Thief in the World, The Fagin of Queen Street, or the cyclists’ Robin Hood. His well-publicized bust in Toronto pushed bike theft onto the front pages of newspapers across the country and around the world. Toronto, meanwhile, is grappling with whether to really embrace bike culture. What does it take to be truly bike-friendly like Amsterdam, Paris, or even New York City? A series of character mini-narratives propel the film through a study of what makes a city “bikeable”.
The film is to be aired on Thursday, September 24 on the CBC (Canadian channel) at 8 pm. It will be available for streaming on the CBC website – see “Doc Zone” page: http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/doczone/2009/pedalpower/