Many people are already aware that former Talking Heads front man (and much, much more) David Byrne is a cyclist and cycling advocate. If this is or isn't news to you, enjoy his review of the book, "Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities," by Jeff Mapes.
Byrne points 0ut an important aspect of bike transportation: it's fun. It requires effort, but gives enjoyment. The exercise just comes along for the ride:
“Pedaling Revolution” is not all facts and figures. Mapes, a journalist who covers politics for The Oregonian, describes how he gained weight and started feeling a bit down when he was forced to exchange his 10-mile daily bike commute in Portland for a “super-sized, 50-mile” drive to the Legislature in Salem. He argues that cycling promotion can raise society’s level of general fitness, since people exercise more when it seems less like exercise and more like something mostly enjoyable that also performs a function, like getting to work. “Bike and walking advocates,” he writes, “have been rebranding their cause as ‘active transportation,’ which manages to come off as nonthreatening to your average couch-bound American while carrying a nice touch of gravitas as well.”
Byrne points out that some of the more extreme manifestations of cycling hobby and sport may give the public the impression it is too intense an arena for them. The industry's fumbling for silver bullets that will suddenly turn bikes into the hot commodity they were at the early peak of the mountain bike boom hasn't helped. Consumers are more confused than ever by all the choices. Manufacturers continue to apply technology to what is a communication problem.
As an urban cyclist, Byrne understands that facet of transportation cycling very well. I would have stayed in a town if I could have afforded to live there. Annapolis was great for cycling, but lousy for a member of the working class. Now I live in a rural area, so my bike commuting is a more athletic and time-consuming endeavor. The work I do here is important. I worry a little, however, that the longer-distance cyclist in a growing area might get plowed under and paved over by arteries between urban enclaves. True urban areas need attention, but areas of lower density present more of a challenge. Meat grinder traffic churns in six-lane troughs with high curbs and deep storm drains, from stoplight to stoplight, mall to mall. That, my friend, is Hell.
Anyway, the book sounds like a good one to own and share. Cycling advocacy has to proceed on many fronts, to allay the fears of uncommitted riders and slay the notion that bike riders are freeloaders sucking off the financial contributions of the dutiful motorists.
Remember, the jersey should say "One More Parking Space" not "One Less Car."