Movie Review: RIDING BIKES WITH THE DUTCH

A Documentary by Michael Baugh that Compares Bicycling Culture of Holland with the Car-Centered Lifestyle of Southern California.

Pick up your kids from school, shop for groceries or just go for a joy ride—but take your bike instead of your car—and repeat every day.  It’s a lifestyle for the Dutch and the inspiration for the documentary Riding Bikes with the Dutch by Michael Bauch.
Bike riding was a favorite activity for Michael Bauch, a Long Beach resident and independent filmmaker, who noticed that many of his local errands involved short rides which were less than three miles. After installing a simple and inexpensive basket, Bauch’s bicycle was now equipped for runs to the grocery store, bank and post office, and cross-town meetings. Integrating the bike into his everyday life seemed effortless and oftentimes quicker than taking a car, fighting traffic congestion and finding a place to park.

“A bike is the ultimate multi-task tool.  Get your local errands done, your exercise, and do your share for the environment all in one fell swoop. I didn’t understand why my neighbors weren’t integrating them into their everyday lives,” said Michael Bauch.   “In the U.S., bicycles are perceived either as high-performance sports machines, toys for children, or a last resort. This cultural perception intrigued me as it was in direct contrast to the values shared by my family living in Europe who use bikes as daily transport—and one of my inspirations for this project.”

An early short documentary entitled Amsterdam: the Bicycling Capital of Europe captivated him to further the endeavor. In the fall of 2007, Bauch together with his wife and 7-month old son exchanged their home in Long Beach, California for a canal-apartment near the Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam. The experience allowed the filmmaker to live and film on location in the picturesque bike-filled city.

When Bauch returned home to begin production in Los Angeles, to compare its iconic car-centered culture with the bicycle psyche of the Dutch, he noticed a movement taking root in his hometown which would inevitably shape his film in a new direction.  Long Beach city officials and urban planners were pushing for, and beginning to implement, an integrated bicycle plan complete with infrastructure and facilities—similar to what he and his family had enjoyed overseas. Rather than focusing entirely on the urban transportation challenges of Los Angeles as a microcosm of the United States, the film presents Long Beach, California as foreshadowing the larger rethinking of our car-centered lifestyle.

Green Living Grade: A (Wonderful inspiration and key learnings any city can benefit from!)

Riding Bikes with the Dutch is a fast-paced journey comparing the bicycling culture of Holland with the car-centered lifestyle in Southern California providing a twist of optimism in the urban seaside location of Long Beach, California. Amsterdam streetscapes and bicycle parking structures; Los Angeles freeways and Long Beach bike paths serve as scenic backdrop for the filmmaker’s dream to create more livable communities here in the United States.