1908 Barcelona footage
- Mikel Colville-Andersen over at Copenhagenize.com posted this YouTube
clip of footage taken from a Barcelona tram in 1908:
His accompanying text:
Visions of the Past and the Future
This is where we are headed. This is what we're all about.
This film from Barcelona in 1908 shows the bicycle as an integrated,
acceptable form of transport in a major city.
It is pure sustainable mobility and it's scenes like this that we bang
on about here on Copenhagenize.com. This is why we coined the phrase
Bicycle Culture 2.0.
The bicycle is not some newfangled invention, as we all know. Nor is
the concept of the bicycle featuring prominently in cities around the
world. The bicycle has been an integral part of urban life for
decades. Regular people on regular bicycles in regular clothes.
Archive footage like the Barcelona film above is proof of what is
possible. It is a filmic testament to where we are headed. It has
happened by and large in Copenhagen and many other European and
Japanese cities. It can happen anywhere.
Sure, there are detractors. Doubters. But the historical proof is hard
The Topography Whiners:
We often hear people in hilly places say that, "yes, but we live in a
hilly place". As though this is a living testament to the fact that
cycling is difficult. Sorry, but that argument is quite ridiculous. In
your hilly place people were riding bicycles long before you were born
in your hilly place. On heavy, black bicycles with few or no gears.
Get over it.
When you consider the fact that so many hilly cities in Europe have a
high level of bicycle usage, this particular whine gets boring.
The Adverse Weather Whiners:
"We have adverse weather", is another classic remark. Sorry, but the
people who lived in your city back in the day had adverse weather,
too. They managed without whining. On the same upright bicycles
Sure, there were fewer cars back then. Certainly in 1908. Car culture
was in it's infancy. Sure, it's tough with all the cars in many urban
centres. But like we've mentioned before, in America 50% of Americans
live within 8 km of their workplace. The same stat applies to most
countries. Then there's the shops or post office which are generally
accessible by bicycle so if you have to drive to work, you can always
use the bicycle for other errands.
While being able to use your bicycle for everything would be optimal,
there are ways to start the wave until bike lanes are built and car
culture is reduced.
The Urban Sprawl Whiners:
We often hear people go on about the urban sprawl and about how
distances are great. Sure, even here in Copenhagen there are many
people who live too far out in the suburbs to ride their bicycle. Many
of them ride to the train station and head into the city by train.
However, urban centres around the world still have a great deal of
people living within bicycling distance of where they need to go.
Like Berlin or Paris, a focus on short trips is a great point of
departure. Increasing intra-neighbourhood trips made by bicycle is a
wise strategy and one that encourages potential urban cyclists to ride
a bicycle on trips that they otherwise would use a car for.
Whining is counter-productive. Making excuses doesn't help cycling.
Let's try to focus on what is possible. Not least because the bicycle
used to be an acceptable form of transport - proven and tested by your
family members only a few generations ago - and it can become so once
If anyone has any archive footage of other cities, do let us know.
Montreal QC Canada