17 January 2011

Old School Parisian Bicycle Culture


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Cool footage. Can some of our Francophone friends give us some context?
Thanks to our amies francaise for the help translating in the comments. Here's the basic context...

It appears that this is an April Fool's clip from 1967. But what is amazing is that this is quite the visionary clip. It's what we're all talking about these days.

Here are our friends and their translation/context:

Louis: The video is talking about a measure to create a bike-only district that the city of Paris was looking at to relieve congestion due to the increasing number of cars. The journalist is asking people whether or not they are in favor of this idea. The majority said yes!

Examinedspoke: 1) The reporter says, essentially, that Parisian traffic is bad, and that the city has made many efforts at improving it, including putting parking underground and expanding roadway space by making sidewalks smaller. City authorities now wanted to study whether banning auto traffic altogether would work.

2) The reporter decided to interview a number of people on the street for their opinions. These opinions cover the gamut: some people thought it was great, while others thought it was not smart. One guy said it's a step backwards by fifty years: "The bicycle is over! It's over!"

Tamagosen: Like examindspoke said, the man-on-the-street opinion varied. That setting-back-the-clock-50-years guy of course thought the whole thing was silly, but the other opinions were;
"It's very practical for women to use to do their short errands or go to the hairdresser"
"I've always biked and these days people just don't want to make the effort"
"It's just more pleasurable"
"Great idea, less cars means everyone can go faster"
"I don't really care but bikes AND miniskirts seem like an interesting combination" (followed by the woman who said, "Not a problem; I wear a short skirt!")
"Great way to get exercise"

Klaus: It was 1967 and they alread knew car supremacy was a failure. The Danes and Dutch did something about it, we joked around and kept applying the same failed policies. it's a joke, but a sad one.

Philippe: Yes, an april fool's joke. What's awesome is that every single line of the tongue in cheek 1967 dialogue could have been used, very seriously in 2011. That, and the folding bike with the ape hanger bar.

16 comments:

Louis M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Louis M said...

For some of you who might not have understand, the video is talking about a measure to create bike-only district that the city of Paris was looking at to relieve congestion due to the increasing number of car.
The journalist is asking people whether or not they are in favor of this idea. The majority said yes!

examinedspoke said...

If no one else steps up, I'll do my best:

1) The reporter says, essentially, that Parisian traffic is bad, and that the city has made many efforts at improving it, including putting parking underground and expanding roadway space by making sidewalks smaller. City authorities now wanted to study whether banning auto traffic altogether would work.

2) The reporter decided to interview a number of people on the street for their opinions. These opinions cover the gamut: some people thought it was great, while others thought it was not smart. One guy said it's a step backwards by fifty years: "The bicycle is over! It's over!"

What I can't tell, however, is whether this video is some kind of big gag. The idea of completely replacing Parisian traffic by bicycle doesn't seem probable, not especially at the time this film was done. The last bit there, with the reporters taking off to do some reporting by bicycle, looks like a joke to me ... but I'm often wrong.

Caitlin said...

That would be so amazing if there was a bicycle-only district

Roger said...

It's an item from the evening television news on 1 April 1967. Search "1er avril" at ina.fr.

kfg said...

"The idea of completely replacing Parisian traffic by bicycle doesn't seem probable"

Indeed, housing prices would skyrocket in such a district.

Aix Cycle Chic said...

Poisson d'Avril !
It's a joke, as journalists do on April 1er in France...
No bike-only district in Paris in 1967 ...
May be in 2011 ? ;-)

Tamagosan said...

I suspect the poisson d'avril/April Fool's joke theory to be true, but since it's such a cool idea, I'll just pretend it's not. One can dream! As a French-English translator, it's always nice to dabble in interpretation, too. :-)

Like examindspoke said, the man-on-the-street opinion varied. That setting-back-the-clock-50-years guy of course thought the whole thing was silly, but the other opinions, "It's very practical for women to use to do their short errands or go to the hairdresser," "I've always biked and these days people just don't want to make the effort," "It's just more pleasurable," "Great idea, less cars means everyone can go faster," "I don't really care but bikes AND miniskirts seem like an interesting combination" (followed by the woman who said, "Not a problem; I wear a shorts-skirt!"), "Great way to get exercise," etc, etc. are all great reasons to bike, gag or not!

Marleen said...

ahhhh génial!! j'adore!!

Hilarious especially since what once were meant to be over the top jokes now all of a sudden seriously seem to be able to solve all our most pressing urban issues....and the positive arguments could be copy pasted into a Vélib campaign :)

My absolute favourite bits:

-"Malheureusement on est arrivé dans une siècle ou les gens veulent même pas faire un effort..."
on the lazyness of the cardriver....

-" C'est un retour pour moi de cinquante ans d'arriere...La bicyclette c'est fini! "
on the lack of social status of the bike
a poor men's vehicle...

-"en ce moment je trouves que c'est assez marrant vous rendez compte que remplacer les voitures par les bicyclettes..boffff et en plus de ça les mini jupes et la bicyclette c'est très interessant pour nous! "
Cycle chic lies in the eye of the beholder :)

Cédric said...

Très bon ! Merci pour cette vidéo !

Klaus Mohn said...

don't forget the intro: "we've tried everything to make traffic more fluid: widened the roadways, reduced sidewalks..." 1967 and they alread knew car supremacy was a failure. The Danes and Dutch did something about it, we joked around and kept applying the same failed policies. it's a joke, but a sad one.

philippe said...

Yes, april fool's joke. What's awesome is that every single line of the tongue in cheek 1967 dialogue could have been used, very seriously in 2011.
That, and the folding bike with the ape hanger bar.

Klaus Mohn said...

Yeah, I'd never seen a bike with those that wasn't tricked out like a California chopper.

brentus said...

seen this?

http://ridesabike.tumblr.com/

kfg said...

I've always liked Francoise Hardy's ape hangers, even if they did act a bit wooden.

examinedspoke said...

Apparently, however, this news item -- that Paris is considering making SUVs difficult or illegal to drive in the city -- is not a Poisson d'Avril at all:

http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/13/paris-considers-a-ban-on-s-u-v-s/