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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Reviews

I have recently purchased a couple of books on cycling and advocacy. My goal is in my spare time (ha!) to read both books and summarize them chapter by chapter here. Hopefully this will get some good dialogue going as well.

The first book I'll take a crack at is The Cyclist's Manifesto - The Case for Riding on Two Wheels Instead of Four - by Robert Hurst.

Mr. Hurst is a bicyle messager with over 20,000 hours of cycling in heavy traffic with over 200,000 miles logged on his bicycle. He lives in Denver, Colorado.

Chapter 1 entitled Interesting Times covers the rise and fall of oil/gas prices during 2008/2009. He talks about how Americans are addicted to the automobile and the idea of the independance an automobile gives one.

Mr. Hurst also admits that the bicycle will not solve the worlds energy problems. But on an individual level - the bicycle can transform lives.

Perhaps in Chapter 2 we will get a better understanding of what he means by that.

stay tuned.


  1. Check Cyclist Manifesto with Pat. He thought it was great.

  2. I have just an initial observation about Mr Hurst and his book. As your reviews continue, it will be interesting to see how you view the book.

    Hurst is the author of a number of books aimed at helping new riders navigate the perils of the auto-centric urban environment. Most notably, he wrote a book called ¨The Art of Urban Cycling,¨ which is a sort of thoroughgoing treatment of the conditions faced by urban bicyclists and prescriptions for how to overcome the city´s myriad challenges.

    This earlier text, along with Hurst´s deceleration that America will never be a nation that bicycles like the Netherlands or Denmark, belies his need to identify as a ¨cyclist.¨ What I mean is, Hurst needs to see himself as a sort of lone wolf battling the dangers of urban traffic; it feeds his own image as a ¨cyclist,¨ but it problematically precludes the possibility of normalizing the bike. This perspective obscures his intellectual prowess as he reduces the high levels of cycling in the Netherlands and Denmark to accidents of history, seemingly un-preventable trajectories of Northern European Cultural evolution. In truth, these high bicycling levels are man made consequences of specific traffic policies.

    For many ¨cyclists,¨ if women and children and grandmas take to the bike in droves, both the risk and excitement factor for urban cycling declines precipitously. It becomes ¨less cool¨ to ride, and, suddenly, the world occupied by bicycle messengers and urban warriors has been taken over by pig-tailed little girls and 10K per hour pedaling grannies. Many bike people are afraid of losing their image to such heresy.

    One of the challenges BWTN faces as it continues to grow is learning to appreciate the dedicated cyclists in our midst without compromising a future generation of would-be bicyclists. In this regard, Mr Hurst´s book leaves some advocates yearning for better insight.

  3. oh, well, okay...on to the next book... :)