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In a world of growing traffic congestion, expensive oil, and threats of cataclysmic climate change, a grassroots movement is carving out a niche for bicycles on the streets of urban cityscapes. In Pedaling Revolution, Jeff Mapes explores the growing urban bike culture that is changing the look and feel of cities across the U.S. He rides with bike advocates who are taming t In a world of growing traffic congestion, expensive oil, and threats of cataclysmic climate change, a grassroots movement is carving out a niche for bicycles on the streets of urban cityscapes. In Pedaling Revolution, Jeff Mapes explores the growing urban bike culture that is changing the look and feel of cities across the U.S. He rides with bike advocates who are taming the streets of New York City, joins the street circus that is Critical Mass in San Francisco, and gets inspired by the everyday folk pedaling in Amsterdam, the nirvana of American bike activists. Mapes, a seasoned political journalist and long-time bike commuter, explores the growth of bicycle advocacy while covering such issues as the environmental, safety, and health aspects of bicycling for short urban trips. His rich cast of characters includes Noah Budnick, a young bicycle advocate in New York who almost died in a crash near the Brooklyn Bridge, and Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN), who took to bicycling in his fifties and helped unleash a new flood of federal money for bikeways. Chapters set in Chicago and Portland show how bicycling has became a political act, with seemingly dozens of subcultures, and how cyclists, with the encouragement of local officials, are seizing streets back from motorists. Pedaling Revolution is essential reading for the approximately one million people who regularly ride their bike to work or on errands, for anyone engaged in transportation, urban planning, sustainability, and public healthaand for drivers trying to understand why theyare seeing so many cyclists. All will be interested in how urban bike activists are creating the future of how we travel and live in twenty-first-centurycities.


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In a world of growing traffic congestion, expensive oil, and threats of cataclysmic climate change, a grassroots movement is carving out a niche for bicycles on the streets of urban cityscapes. In Pedaling Revolution, Jeff Mapes explores the growing urban bike culture that is changing the look and feel of cities across the U.S. He rides with bike advocates who are taming t In a world of growing traffic congestion, expensive oil, and threats of cataclysmic climate change, a grassroots movement is carving out a niche for bicycles on the streets of urban cityscapes. In Pedaling Revolution, Jeff Mapes explores the growing urban bike culture that is changing the look and feel of cities across the U.S. He rides with bike advocates who are taming the streets of New York City, joins the street circus that is Critical Mass in San Francisco, and gets inspired by the everyday folk pedaling in Amsterdam, the nirvana of American bike activists. Mapes, a seasoned political journalist and long-time bike commuter, explores the growth of bicycle advocacy while covering such issues as the environmental, safety, and health aspects of bicycling for short urban trips. His rich cast of characters includes Noah Budnick, a young bicycle advocate in New York who almost died in a crash near the Brooklyn Bridge, and Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN), who took to bicycling in his fifties and helped unleash a new flood of federal money for bikeways. Chapters set in Chicago and Portland show how bicycling has became a political act, with seemingly dozens of subcultures, and how cyclists, with the encouragement of local officials, are seizing streets back from motorists. Pedaling Revolution is essential reading for the approximately one million people who regularly ride their bike to work or on errands, for anyone engaged in transportation, urban planning, sustainability, and public healthaand for drivers trying to understand why theyare seeing so many cyclists. All will be interested in how urban bike activists are creating the future of how we travel and live in twenty-first-centurycities.

30 review for Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities

  1. 5 out of 5

    David

    This is some of my favorite non-fiction that I've read in the last few years. I ride bikes a good bit for fitness, commuting, and errands. Prior to reading this though, I did not have strong opinions on transportation issues beyond "bike lanes: good; sprawl: bad." Mapes packs his book with facts, and you must think just how commonsensical a solution bikes are to many 21st century American problems: energy, pollution, obesity, sprawl, lack of community, and generally sedentary lifestyles. And it' This is some of my favorite non-fiction that I've read in the last few years. I ride bikes a good bit for fitness, commuting, and errands. Prior to reading this though, I did not have strong opinions on transportation issues beyond "bike lanes: good; sprawl: bad." Mapes packs his book with facts, and you must think just how commonsensical a solution bikes are to many 21st century American problems: energy, pollution, obesity, sprawl, lack of community, and generally sedentary lifestyles. And it's fun. David Byrne's review called this book "great ammo for bike advocates" (or something to that effect) and that's absolutely right. Mapes doesn't completely condone the lawless nature of Critical Mass and similar countercultural groups. He pays a lot of attention to lawful efforts to improve America's transportation infrastructure by bike advocates and some of the surrounding culture. It's hard to read this book and not launch into a tirade the first time transport comes up in conversation; good stuff!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carl Wells

    This book inspired me to cycle more and to be proud of it (always an uphill battle in the anti-cycle auckland). Lots of the book deals with how activists and politicians have grown cycling in places like Portland and NYC. It's too easy to see bike-friendly cities as always being that way, but now I know how it was a struggle. Meaning it's possible to get it done here! Makes me want to sort things out at city hall. Though focused on the legal side, this book also inspires me with lots of reasons This book inspired me to cycle more and to be proud of it (always an uphill battle in the anti-cycle auckland). Lots of the book deals with how activists and politicians have grown cycling in places like Portland and NYC. It's too easy to see bike-friendly cities as always being that way, but now I know how it was a struggle. Meaning it's possible to get it done here! Makes me want to sort things out at city hall. Though focused on the legal side, this book also inspires me with lots of reasons why auckland could and should become a better and safer place for cyclists. Not the most gripping content but great book for cyclists needing talking points and a little inspiration.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cherie

    If you want to be a little more inspired to ride your bike this is a good book. I just rode to the store today, in fact...how very Portland of me!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    3.5 rounding up. Another good one for the active transportation knowledge base. I'm starting to recognize a lot of the names that keep coming up in the various literature on this topic - next up will probably have to be Donald Shoup's The High Cost of Free Parking (which is like 800 pages but I keep being assured by all these authors that it's worth it). I liked the broader chapters better than those that were one-city case studies, but still overall very interesting. I don't know if we came to a 3.5 rounding up. Another good one for the active transportation knowledge base. I'm starting to recognize a lot of the names that keep coming up in the various literature on this topic - next up will probably have to be Donald Shoup's The High Cost of Free Parking (which is like 800 pages but I keep being assured by all these authors that it's worth it). I liked the broader chapters better than those that were one-city case studies, but still overall very interesting. I don't know if we came to a conclusion or not though - is there a single solution that works? Could there be a North American city that actually functions like Amsterdam or Copenhagen someday? It was interesting to me that there is such a divide between cycling advocates - strong support for "bikes as vehicles, we don't need to encourage more cyclists" as well as "build protected bike lanes to encourage more cycling." It seems the answer maybe is somewhere in the middle? When you've designed your entire culture around the automobile, it's really hard to change. One cool thing I have noticed in my city, which is lately gaining an embarrassing national reputation for being anti-cycling, is that there are quite a few people who seem to be really motivated to rebel against said reputation. I have definitely noticed more people cycling in winter this year. Change is slow, and probably the only way we're going to get wider acceptance of cycling in Saskatoon is just to get more people doing it, so that it's not weird to see a bike on the street, but normal and expected for motorists. That will take a while but I am hopeful that the next time the bike lane debate rolls around that there will be enough bike commuters in the city that it just makes sense to plan for them. I really liked this paragraph from the epilogue, which sums up my own paradigm shift over the past few years as well with respect to transportation: "My life has changed in a lot of ways since I've started thinking hard about transportation, in ways both minor and profound. When I do drive, I no longer worry about parking close to my destination. Now, I'm happy to get out of the car and briskly walk a few blocks. I would rather spend my time stretching my legs than fretting over whether I can find the closest possible parking space. More importantly, driving a mile to the store for a quart of milk seems to me as much overkill as using a high-powered nail gun to hang a picture."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    Did you love to ride a bike when you were a kid? Remember that feeling of independence, the ease of cruising along, the thrill of coasting downhill? Many adults all over the world are reconnecting with that joy by cycling instead of driving locally. This book details the movement toward bicycle-friendly environments in cities like Seattle, Portland, and New York. Cycling can solve so many national problems--it reduces carbon-emissions, traffic congestion, fuel costs and individual obesity. Cycli Did you love to ride a bike when you were a kid? Remember that feeling of independence, the ease of cruising along, the thrill of coasting downhill? Many adults all over the world are reconnecting with that joy by cycling instead of driving locally. This book details the movement toward bicycle-friendly environments in cities like Seattle, Portland, and New York. Cycling can solve so many national problems--it reduces carbon-emissions, traffic congestion, fuel costs and individual obesity. Cycling improves our health, adds to our enjoyment of the world around us, and recreates a feeling of community. If you are a cycler or a cycler-wannabe, you will enjoy this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    I found it more helpful than not to be familiar with most of the examples and authors cited in this book. Given that breadth, perhaps this book would make a good introduction to the topic. At p.252, I read a viewpoint less familiar to me. That for advocacy groups, teaching kids to ride is about three things potentially in equal amounts: safety; future revenue stream of donations; and grooming future advocates for the cause. Having seen one political cause come to fruition (albeit having no infras I found it more helpful than not to be familiar with most of the examples and authors cited in this book. Given that breadth, perhaps this book would make a good introduction to the topic. At p.252, I read a viewpoint less familiar to me. That for advocacy groups, teaching kids to ride is about three things potentially in equal amounts: safety; future revenue stream of donations; and grooming future advocates for the cause. Having seen one political cause come to fruition (albeit having no infrastructure building costs) I wonder at how an advocacy group can lack a discrete goal. The opening chapter gives an overview of the political movement. Next come five case studies of cities (six including a few paragraphs on Chicago IL). The final chapters one might think of as theory in comparison to exemplar cities (although the whole MIT Press thing is academic) cover (7) Overcoming the Safety Barriers, (8) Health and the Bicycle, and (9) Bringing Kids Back to Bikes. At this point an "Epilogue" chapter parlays a handful of take-aways for me through some subject matter experts: + Susan Zielinski: Within an urban enmeshing of transportation options--select your mode for its convenience & benefits. + Dan Burden: Design built environment for human-scale interactions. + Gregory Humora: On perceived risk and loss of walkable environments: "What we're left with is old road technology and new road technology." (p.270) + quoting the author about using the right tool for the job: "driving a mile to the store for a quart of milk seems to me as much overkill as using a high-powered nail gun to hang a picture." My best take-away comes from (9) Bringing Kids Back to Bikes. A workshop by Dan Burden (walkability) inspired Deb Hubsmith (Safe Routes to School) to ponder "wouldn't it be great if we could teach our kids not just driver's education, but transportation education." Thinking back, that 'one political cause coming to fruition' was about education. The purpose was to make available oft overlooked subject matter in the form of a secondary school course. Perhaps "transportation education" ought to be an advocacy goal for primary school.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Excellent book about the history of how cyclists and cities are making spaces more bike-able and why it is important to do so. Numbers create safety and safety creates numbers. But it is better for our health, cities and environment. p 67: "Local streets would be designed for the safety of the most vulnerable users, not to carry the maximum number of cars.” p. 154: "bicycles are just so undemanding of the system, you know? They are the small vehicles that don’t wear the pavement.” That compares f Excellent book about the history of how cyclists and cities are making spaces more bike-able and why it is important to do so. Numbers create safety and safety creates numbers. But it is better for our health, cities and environment. p 67: "Local streets would be designed for the safety of the most vulnerable users, not to carry the maximum number of cars.” p. 154: "bicycles are just so undemanding of the system, you know? They are the small vehicles that don’t wear the pavement.” That compares favorably to “all of the external negatives that go with a transit bus that pounds your pavement, to inefficient automobiles that don’t move many people relative to their mass, to high capacity transit systems, which we love, but take a major investment of energy and materials and construction cost… For simple transportation, the bicycle is very elegant and very cost-effective. So I think there are reasons why it makes good policy to go as far as you can with bicycle transportation.” p 160: "“being green means Portlanders save a bundle on cars and gas,” p 273-274: "For some families, depending on a bike to get to work could mean the difference between whether they need to own two cars or one. Given that the average annual cost of owning and operating a new car topped $8,000 in 2008, according to the American Automobile Association, a working family can save more by shedding a vehicle than any politician will ever give them in a tax cut.”

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jocelyn

    So many things are drifting in and out of my mind right now. I finished reading The Worst Hard Time, aka The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl. Now, I was in the midst of reading this when I found out my father is pretty much in support of fracking. So (so, SO) many exasperated thoughts rushed into my brain the day I drove away from that conversation. Mainly, an angry determination to finish The Worst Hard Time as fast as possible and write an angry disjointed blog So many things are drifting in and out of my mind right now. I finished reading The Worst Hard Time, aka The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl. Now, I was in the midst of reading this when I found out my father is pretty much in support of fracking. So (so, SO) many exasperated thoughts rushed into my brain the day I drove away from that conversation. Mainly, an angry determination to finish The Worst Hard Time as fast as possible and write an angry disjointed blog about how short-sighted my Dad (and Americans as a whole) was being. I did write that blog. It’s not very good. I was angry about a lot of other things at the time. This is not to say that I am OK with my Dad being gung-ho for fracking; I find it frustratingly disheartening. I just now feel a peaceful futility in the situation. I mean, we’re basically fucked, as B would say. I have a great uncle who’s been on an off dying the entire time I’ve known him. Earth is witnessing a species (that’s right, us!) that has been on and off dying the entire time she’s known them. Here’s the thing; I saw (and still see) a great deal of correlation between the lead up to the Dust Bowl and what is probably going to be the result of continued fracking. (You guess it; The end of the world.) And while I’m irritated that we should know better, I mean, the Dust Bowl was less than a hundred years ago, I started to think about it in relation to other things I’ve recently experienced. Like childbirth. This is what they say; In 5 - 6 months you’ll forget all that nasty pain you went through pushing out that kid. Otherwise, women would never get pregnant again! So, our minds kinda fudge up all the details of what a contraction feels like, what the stretching and the tearing and the healing did to you, and you go through it all again - Cursing the whole time “Why didn’t I remember it was like this!” Well, A: No one is sitting beside you saying “Hey, before you get all knocked up with baby number two, let’s have a PowerPoint presentation of all the words and fluids you expelled over the 36 hour period of constant pain.” And quite frankly, no one really is doing that now, either. I deal with history and the preservation of it a lot. Everybody is quick to placard a building, or write editorials on behalf of brick and mortar deterioration (I’ve done both), but we don’t really care so much about the stories and people that filled the walls. Out of everyone I’ve talked to, they all vaguely know the Dust Bowl happened, but they don’t really know where or why and how it matters today. Does it matter today? It’s more important to think three days ahead than to attend to 80 years past. Let’s see ... I’m not super into the education scene but I think technology and science is priority numero uno when it comes to the syllabi these days. Of course! Areas that progress us further and faster than another country. We kinda shift history to an elective. We need to be progressing! We need to be inventing and improving, our lives are too hard! We need to live forever, we need to have machines do all the dirty (and clean) work. We need to grow our vegetables and our meat and our children from petri dishes! If we stop learning about slices of history where progression had terrible ramifications, we can invent monstrosities and exploit our resources effectively. We have more children because our mind sweetly shuts a door when we’re not looking. This is on a national level, but I’ve been trying to think about it in my own practice. I just listened to a podcast on distracted driving. It’s kinda related. We push things until they go too far, until they get too tragic to ignore. We will frack until Oklahoma is eaten by the earth, and then we’ll stop and think of how to fix it. We will drive two ton machinery with half an eye on the road and none of our brain until we kill someone or ourselves. Until the calamity is too large to ignore. But how big does something have to get before we step in and solve the problem? The black dust of No-Man’s land had to blow all the way to Boston before lawmakers realized there was a problem. Thousands had already died from dust pneumonia. Oklahoma experienced over 900 earthquakes last year, but it seems the green light is still on fracking, maybe 900 wasn’t enough? (Here’s a tired argument; We can’t prove it’s related./It’s not related./Insert something about the economy. That all sounds like a sad cigarette smoker protesting that one more won’t hurt. Or a distracted driver exalting their expert attention span.) It’s like, as a whole, our society is one party hard college student with a 20 page paper due. We work better under pressure, right? So why not wait until the night before. Because (to bring it back), childbirth happens. (As in, actual childbirth, not a metaphor.) It’s like Mother Nature’s long game. She tries cataclysmic weather patterns, horrible infestations, disturbing diseases to try and get us to get our heads out of the keg and reevaluate the whole game plan. It doesn’t seem to work. But maybe by having humans have humans; By making them have tiny cute defenseless offspring that will be around for 80-100 years? Maybe we’ll think 80-100 years. What kind of Oklahoma is my son going to grow up to know? What about his son. Do we have children with the intent they’ll live a sterile existence? No, we kinda want them to be just happy as us. In fact, we kinda want them to be happier. It’s a granola hippie goal, but maybe absolutely stopping fracking will make us have to invest in the future. We’re pretty much divesting right now. Instead of waiting the 13th hour, maybe we’ll do something in the 8th hour. Or maybe G will live in WaterWorld. Probably not, I hear water is the next natural resource to go. https://testingfivefortythree.com/

  9. 5 out of 5

    Evan

    It's always interesting to have a reporter write about something you know a lot about. Luckily, in this case, Jeff Mapes is up to the task, and does a solid job of covering the bike movement (though this book is now 10 years old). Many of my old friends and allies are covered, in Mapes' breezy, story-focused reportage. It's not an academic look at the possibilities of cycling, nor are all the facts exactly right (though most are) and many of the most challenging issues (politics of mega-projects, It's always interesting to have a reporter write about something you know a lot about. Luckily, in this case, Jeff Mapes is up to the task, and does a solid job of covering the bike movement (though this book is now 10 years old). Many of my old friends and allies are covered, in Mapes' breezy, story-focused reportage. It's not an academic look at the possibilities of cycling, nor are all the facts exactly right (though most are) and many of the most challenging issues (politics of mega-projects, battles over funding, etc.) aren't addressed. Anyone who wants a strong introduction to how cities and activists are working to boost bicycling should start here.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Main point: people don't bike because they don't feel safe. Cycling is safer when there are more cyclists on the road. Main point: people don't bike because they don't feel safe. Cycling is safer when there are more cyclists on the road.

  11. 5 out of 5

    David

    This is a fascinating book about how and why cities are/may become more bicycle friendly and why this is a good idea long overdue

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    A thoughtful and interesting analysis.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Governments across the world today are beset by problems common to all: rising fuel prices and obesity rates, the ever-present spectre of climate change, and the transportation needs of increasingly urbanized (or re-urbanizing) populations. Enter the humble bicycle: accessible to virtually everyone, regardless of age, sex, or income level; clean, quiet, and an excellent source of exercise. For too long in the United States, bicycling has been the province of a few intense racers and tourers who Governments across the world today are beset by problems common to all: rising fuel prices and obesity rates, the ever-present spectre of climate change, and the transportation needs of increasingly urbanized (or re-urbanizing) populations. Enter the humble bicycle: accessible to virtually everyone, regardless of age, sex, or income level; clean, quiet, and an excellent source of exercise. For too long in the United States, bicycling has been the province of a few intense racers and tourers who pride themselves on how miserable a trek they can endure. The end of the cheap oil era, however, has prompted cities to reexamine the bicycle as a means of transportation for the many, despite the car-centric nature of the American city. Curbing car domination is not a futile hope: in the 1970s, stirred by soaring oil prices, the Netherlands moved to discourage car use and promote cycling. The city of Amsterdam became a pioneer in modern cycling infrastructure; only Copenhagan can rival it. Both cities boast that nearly half of all trips within their cores happen via a cycle. Fittingly, then, Mapes begins with Amsterdam's story -- but the United States has its own homegrown success in Davis, California, a university town whose early growth was managed by a cycling advocate. But Davis had it easy: New York City and Portland, Oregon's success in creating room for cyclists in an already established urban area filled with cars is arguably more impressive. Mapes' chapters on these cities not only demonstrate their success, but explore how they did it. There's no authoritative source for how best to integrate bike traffic into transportation infrastructure. Approaches range from the simple (simply painting bike lanes onto existing roads) to the more involved (separate bike paths and even 'bike boulevards') -- and there are some who deny the need for bicycle infrastructure at all, harrumphing that cyclists should just learn to ride safely with auto traffic. But more than just the built environment have to change to encourage cycling: traffic laws, like right-turn-on-red permits that allow motorists to take over pedestrian and cyclist right-of-ways, must be addressed. The book ends with a section on cycling safety, health benefits, and the important role bikes can play in raising children, and thus in creating a broader, sustainable bike culture. Pedaling Revolution has great appeal to both cyclists and citizens concerned about the state of American cities, for whom it should prove most encouraging. The argue for cycling more is better made in The Green Metropolis, the cover of which is of a city in bodily form on a bike, but Mapes' account gives the already-converted great reason for hope, and could easily intrigue the curious to becoming part of a bicycling renaissance. Taken from an April edition of The Selma Morning Times, 1900. Related: •Copenhaganize, a blog covering cities around the world as they move toward being more bike friendly, like Amsterdam Copenghagen. •The Green Metropolis: Why Living Smaller, Living Closer, and Driving Less are the Keys to Sustainability, David Owen •Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, Jeff Speck •The Sprocket and Critical Transit, two podcasts hosted by urban cyclists....based in Portland, naturally. The Sprocket's tagline is 'Simplifying the Good Life'; I especially enjoy their interviews with carfree parents.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dan Phillips

    My standard answer for why I ride my bike to work is that it's the "best way I know how to trick myself into exercising." It's fun, it's not expensive, it's often no slower than public transportation. And for me, at the risk of sounding corny, it actually cleanses my mind. When I'm biking regularly, I'm in a better mood. It really is as simple as that. So no, I've never really been an especially 'political' cyclist. But at the same time, I think we all have to admit that as oil becomes scarce, an My standard answer for why I ride my bike to work is that it's the "best way I know how to trick myself into exercising." It's fun, it's not expensive, it's often no slower than public transportation. And for me, at the risk of sounding corny, it actually cleanses my mind. When I'm biking regularly, I'm in a better mood. It really is as simple as that. So no, I've never really been an especially 'political' cyclist. But at the same time, I think we all have to admit that as oil becomes scarce, and as bikes become a more common transportation choice, the issue of how we can make our car-centric roads more bike-friendly is only going to grow in urgency. I will advocate for bike-friendly cities, obviously, because I ride my bike in one. But now, in part thanks to this book, I'll also advocate for them because the change is inevitable, and our learned assumption that roads are for cars and cars alone simply MUST change. It's with the question of HOW we're going to do this that things get interesting. Mapes looks at the issue through the filter of a handful of cities -- Manhattan, Portland, Davis (California). I found his writing style to be a strange mix of the rigidity of newspaper reporting...only without the focus. Sort of the worst of both worlds, I'm sorry to say. If I hadn't already been keen on the subject, I would have never gotten through it. Another complaint I have with the book is its choice of illustrations. There are very few of them, which is fine, but most of these are black and white photos of bike advocates, like this "Reverend Phil" guy from Portland. I don't really care too much what these revolutionaries and politicians look like, but I definitely would have been up for seeing some of the newer urban bike solutions. How about a picture of an Amsterdam "cycletrack?" Or maybe a schematic of one of the "green squares" painted at select New York intersections? Mapes does a fair job describing these experiments in his prose, but he could have saved himself the trouble, in my opinion. Having said that, there were passages in 'Pedaling Revolution' that revved my imagination, got me excited for a future where cities aren't just more bike-able (and walkable) for convenience's sake, but also in the hopes of a more tight-knit sense of community. (More bikes on the street = more eyes on the neighborhood.) Also, later chapters on biking health and biking safety were concise, self-contained pieces. The "city" chapters just seemed to roam too much for me, but these later chapters made up for it. I think biking is an important subject, and it's also dear to me personally. So I'm glad to have read this book, but I'll definitely be on the lookout for something to top it, something I can more heartily recommend to my non- or less-biking friends.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    Having been involved in bicycling advocacy, some of the points of the book have become pretty well tred talking points in those circles. However the book is still an excellent overview of the bicycling movement and I learned a lot about the inception of bicycling as a major mode of transportation and a political organizing force in the 1890's. Of course the automobile craze soon overshadowed the bicycle craze; bicycle manufacturer Albert Pope didn't remain a household name like Henry Ford. Howev Having been involved in bicycling advocacy, some of the points of the book have become pretty well tred talking points in those circles. However the book is still an excellent overview of the bicycling movement and I learned a lot about the inception of bicycling as a major mode of transportation and a political organizing force in the 1890's. Of course the automobile craze soon overshadowed the bicycle craze; bicycle manufacturer Albert Pope didn't remain a household name like Henry Ford. However, the seeds were planted in the American psyche, and bicycling took off in another boom in the 1970's amid the oil embargo. Currently, we are in another boom with perhaps more staying power as young people seemingly fall out of love with the car, at least incrementally. Mapes expounds on numerous benefits to bicycling from physical fitness to being more intimately connected to the city around you. He also talked the bicycle fueling a creative movement symbiotic with other urban trends such as increased interest in nature/ecology, urban gardening, craft brewing, and street art, festivals and protest. He hold up a bicycling activist called Rev. Phil as a symbol of this bike culture movement. So the benefits of biking are manifold, the culture is vibrant, but implementation of more bicycle infrastrtucture can be trickier and Mapes tries to get into political solutions. There is no silver bullet and partnering with as many groups as possible seems to be crucial. Public health groups can help make the exercise case and find funding sources and explain the saving in health care expenses. Child safety groups could help with safe routes to schools. It's an uphill battle to overcome automobile hegemony, but many interest are finally coalescing around an alternative.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Really interesting read on the grass roots movement of improving alternative transportation in American cities. Jeff Mapes does focus mainly on bikes (of course!), but it's noteworthy that any movement towards putting Americans on a "car diet" improves conditions for cyclists as well as pedestrians. Jeff looks to European cities that have already cultivated an environment that supports many types of transit. He then goes in to study several American cities that have made radical progress, includ Really interesting read on the grass roots movement of improving alternative transportation in American cities. Jeff Mapes does focus mainly on bikes (of course!), but it's noteworthy that any movement towards putting Americans on a "car diet" improves conditions for cyclists as well as pedestrians. Jeff looks to European cities that have already cultivated an environment that supports many types of transit. He then goes in to study several American cities that have made radical progress, including Portland, Oregon; Davis, California; Boulder, Colorado; San Francisco, California; and Boston, Massachusetts. He interviews the people that are on the streets and not just walking the walk (pedaling the wheels?) but getting involved with city planning. Most noteworthy was the correlation between conditions for pedestrians and cyclists and the community. Places that were safe for riding and walking tended to have improved neighborhoods. This book does not shun cars or drivers. Jeff Mapes acknowledges that most cyclists do have cars, they've just cultivated a different relationship to their vehicles. The love affair with the car, he notes, may be ending. When I first heard about this book, I worried that it would be an in-your-face power to the pedal! book. Instead, it was a well rounded look at our transit choices and the communities around them.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tech

    Put some fun between my legs? ABSOLUTELY, Jeff Mapes. Some have suggested that this book might not be so interesting/engaging to a non-cyclist, but I disagree. Part anthropological study, part health/environmental treatise, part policy study, and largely a celebration of cycling's general awesomeness, Pedaling Revolution rocked my world. It's one of those unusual books that had me squealing every few pages - I even started mapping a bike route from home to work so that I can start cycling there t Put some fun between my legs? ABSOLUTELY, Jeff Mapes. Some have suggested that this book might not be so interesting/engaging to a non-cyclist, but I disagree. Part anthropological study, part health/environmental treatise, part policy study, and largely a celebration of cycling's general awesomeness, Pedaling Revolution rocked my world. It's one of those unusual books that had me squealing every few pages - I even started mapping a bike route from home to work so that I can start cycling there this spring (and I don't even own a bike!). The scope of his book is ambitious - how does one cover "the growth of bicycle advocacy and... the environmental, safety, and health aspects of bicycling" in only 276 pages? Answer: not thoroughly. He spends a lot of time on character sketches of bike-friendly cities and the people who are fighting to make them more so - to great effect. I just wish he spent less time describing well-established cycling communities and instead offered more insights (and more optimism!) on where we go from here. I was left wondering, "Awesome! I would LOVE to be a part of this movement - but how?" That being said, I have a feeling I'll be revisiting this book if I decide to study public policy & urban planning in grad school... I will admit to photocopying the bibliography. :) I recommend to all who <3 bikes or livable cities.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael Lewyn

    This book is a (mostly) interesting guide to why cycling has become more popular in recent years and on what planners can do to facilitate cycling. Some of the book's more interesting points include: *although the U.S. has reduced traffic fatalities significantly in recent decades, the cycling-oriented Netherlands have done so even more rapidly, cutting fatalities in half since 1987. In particular, cyclist fatalities tend to be higher in the U.S.- where cycling is common it is safe. *Ridership inc This book is a (mostly) interesting guide to why cycling has become more popular in recent years and on what planners can do to facilitate cycling. Some of the book's more interesting points include: *although the U.S. has reduced traffic fatalities significantly in recent decades, the cycling-oriented Netherlands have done so even more rapidly, cutting fatalities in half since 1987. In particular, cyclist fatalities tend to be higher in the U.S.- where cycling is common it is safe. *Ridership increases are not limited to the U.S.; for example, in Copenhagen, motorists outnumbered cyclists 3-1 in morning peak hour traffic, but now are outnumbered by cyclists. *High cycling ridership is not limited to Europe; in one Davis, California, elementary school, one-fourth of students ride bikes to school, because of the city's bike trail system. *Over fifteen years, the entire cost of Portland's bicycle improvements was less than the cost of rebuilding one freeway interchange. The only thing I did not love was that the book sometimes got bogged down in factual detail (especially about the not-very-interesting antics of semi-nude cyclists and other eccentrics). In addition, I wish the book had included more pictures to show what cities are doing to promote cycling, rather than relying solely on the author's descriptions.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    This was a very well-written and well-researched book. I think Mapes did a fantastic job of covering the topic. He did alot of research and interviewed alot of people, and it's evident in the comprehensive bibliography at the end. Also, an index is a nice touch, since I expect to be referring to it in the future. I thought he did a good job of giving dissenting voices fair stage time. I learned that there are two pretty opposite camps of bicyclist advocates: vehicular cyclists (such as Forester) This was a very well-written and well-researched book. I think Mapes did a fantastic job of covering the topic. He did alot of research and interviewed alot of people, and it's evident in the comprehensive bibliography at the end. Also, an index is a nice touch, since I expect to be referring to it in the future. I thought he did a good job of giving dissenting voices fair stage time. I learned that there are two pretty opposite camps of bicyclist advocates: vehicular cyclists (such as Forester) and bike boulevard advocates. I now lean a little further in the direction of the boulevard advocates, although I personally believe the two can find more common ground (both figuratively and literally). I am now opposed to suburban sprawl. The chapter that fired me up the most was the one on health and exercise. I've gotta get off my butt and back on my bike! My only real criticism of the book is that the chapters were awfully long with very few natural breaks within the chapters. Also -- and I realize this is nitpicky -- the typesetting was sometimes annoying. Seriously, though, you shouldn't ever actually notice the typesetting. Oh, and by the way, SLOW DOWN and respect the bikers around you!! :)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    One reason I chose to read this book is that the author lives in the same city that I do – Portland, Oregon. I’m fortunate enough to live in a city that -in the recent past -has made an effort to make it easier to commute by bicycle. Most cities are not like that, so it’s inspiring to read a book about other cities and places that are also trying to increase bicycle ridership. The author writes about the struggles of various cities to fit in ways to make it easy for people to ride their bicycles One reason I chose to read this book is that the author lives in the same city that I do – Portland, Oregon. I’m fortunate enough to live in a city that -in the recent past -has made an effort to make it easier to commute by bicycle. Most cities are not like that, so it’s inspiring to read a book about other cities and places that are also trying to increase bicycle ridership. The author writes about the struggles of various cities to fit in ways to make it easy for people to ride their bicycles in the city, while simultaneously trying not to inconvenience people driving automobiles. He does talk about legislation, but not to the point of being boring. I enjoyed the parts of the book that were about activism – critical mass, naked bicycle rides, and the like. Mapes does a good job in this book of advocating for more bicycle usage, and why they made the emphasis in traffic design. At first I thought he was too optimistic, but as his points were made I found myself getting annoyed at how much we pander to automobiles at the expense of pedestrians, cyclists, and other modes of transportation, who subsidize roads while gaining fewer benefits. I’ll give this 4 out of 5 stars. I found it interesting for the most part, but I did get bored a few times

  21. 4 out of 5

    Deon Stonehouse

    Pedaling Revolution. Biking is becoming a revolution as cyclists and cars vie for road space. Our dependence on fossil fuels has been a contributing factor to the mess in the Middle East, air pollution and a variety of ills. Health care costs are soaring through the roof, with one of the contributing factors being the sedentary nature of Americans. Mapes, an Oregonian reporter, is trying with his marvelous book to lure you out and onto your bikes. From Amsterdam to New York to San Francisco to P Pedaling Revolution. Biking is becoming a revolution as cyclists and cars vie for road space. Our dependence on fossil fuels has been a contributing factor to the mess in the Middle East, air pollution and a variety of ills. Health care costs are soaring through the roof, with one of the contributing factors being the sedentary nature of Americans. Mapes, an Oregonian reporter, is trying with his marvelous book to lure you out and onto your bikes. From Amsterdam to New York to San Francisco to Portland Oregon people are getting out of their cars and onto their bikes. Mapes cycles with evident glee in Amsterdam where bikes rule. How much healthier would the air quality become (and subsequently the people) if most of the commuting to and from work in cities involved biking? Mapes compares the cycling culture in Europe to the US, highlights individuals, and gives us glimpses of the high cost of our car oriented culture. He casts a reporter’s eye on environmental factors, political issues, health and safety. This is a well researched book that anyone interested in bikes should find interesting

  22. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    I feel empowered! But not really... Well, I wish they had a "skimmed" option as far as read/reading. It started fairly strong, and made lots of good points, but by the end, I was skimming a bit. The parts about biking in Europe and attempts here in the US are very interesting, and I'll never see Critical Mass in the same way, but near the end, I was just terrified of being crushed by a trash truck. I had to read selectively. I like what he's going for, but I personally just don't see any room in " I feel empowered! But not really... Well, I wish they had a "skimmed" option as far as read/reading. It started fairly strong, and made lots of good points, but by the end, I was skimming a bit. The parts about biking in Europe and attempts here in the US are very interesting, and I'll never see Critical Mass in the same way, but near the end, I was just terrified of being crushed by a trash truck. I had to read selectively. I like what he's going for, but I personally just don't see any room in "the movement" for me. I wish he would address that part- I think alot of new bikers feel similarly. We try to be good, healthy, whatever- but even if we ride all over town, we're looked at with cynicism by the prevailing bike culture. I'm not hip to cyclists because I wear a helmet, my bike's not a fixed gear bike, I don't have a crate on the back, and I will ride sidewalks on busy streets. I'm not a racer or very skilled, so cars certainly don't want me in their midst. Where do we belong? I don't know, and I guess he doesn't, either.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jtomassetti

    PEDALING REVOLUTION [How Cyclists are Changing American Cities] was written by Jeff Mapes and published in 2009. If you are wondering how could cycling be improved in your city or how you can entice more cyclists to ride in your city, this book is a must read for you. It seems like every city is already too built up, too spread out, too dependent on cars and too set in its ways to change this book will inspire you because bicycle have been successfully introduced into New York City and Chicago. PEDALING REVOLUTION [How Cyclists are Changing American Cities] was written by Jeff Mapes and published in 2009. If you are wondering how could cycling be improved in your city or how you can entice more cyclists to ride in your city, this book is a must read for you. It seems like every city is already too built up, too spread out, too dependent on cars and too set in its ways to change this book will inspire you because bicycle have been successfully introduced into New York City and Chicago. This book provides an historical perspective of where the USA is now and what has been and can be done to support alternative transportation in the USA. The author has done excellent research and supplies plenty of fact and statistics to support the positions in the book. Also for a non-fiction book on cycling politics its reads easily. The only problem with this book is that it should be read by people who do not cycle and only drive cars. Unfortunately it will probably only be read by cyclists.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alevtina

    In "Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities," author Jeff Mapes provides a historical context for the social evolution of the bicycle. Better yet, he does it from the perspective of a journalist. In addition to providing factual information, he throws in anecdotes and quotes from personal interviews. He really gives his readers a human perspective on the topic. Furthermore, by drawing on the past and looking to the future (as well as to existing bike-friendly cities around In "Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities," author Jeff Mapes provides a historical context for the social evolution of the bicycle. Better yet, he does it from the perspective of a journalist. In addition to providing factual information, he throws in anecdotes and quotes from personal interviews. He really gives his readers a human perspective on the topic. Furthermore, by drawing on the past and looking to the future (as well as to existing bike-friendly cities around the world), Mapes explains what is necessary to make bicycling a valid and recognized form of transportation: a revolution. Once more people take to their bikes and ditch their cars, the rest of the world will see that bicycles are ideal for short trips around town. The point is made several times throughout the text: there is strength in numbers. More people on bikes equals more awareness... which leads to changes in legislature.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Herbie

    A helpful history of bicycle advocacy. Most insightful tidbit for me was that everything in Portland was kickstarted by a lawsuit that the City of Portland lost. Cities don't become like Portland willingly - bike advocates had to sue. Some people think this book focuses too much on official advocacy, mostly don't by white people who receive grant funding. Not enough anarchy, poor folks, and folks of color, all of whom are a big part of the bicycle movement. I also noticed that the book had no love A helpful history of bicycle advocacy. Most insightful tidbit for me was that everything in Portland was kickstarted by a lawsuit that the City of Portland lost. Cities don't become like Portland willingly - bike advocates had to sue. Some people think this book focuses too much on official advocacy, mostly don't by white people who receive grant funding. Not enough anarchy, poor folks, and folks of color, all of whom are a big part of the bicycle movement. I also noticed that the book had no love for BMX, road riding, or mountain bikings. Advocacy is linked to love of the bike, which is linked to these recreational parts of cycling. This was a good book to read during my first quarter of urban planning school. It kept reality and the practical nature of making cities wonderful at the front of my mind while I learned a lot of theory.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Sivelle

    An interesting book. I never really considered all of the different benefits of riding a bike. There is the obvious health and environmental pluses, but it is also a great way to bring communities together, to reduce traffic accidents (cars tend to reduce their speeds and become more alert when they see bicyclists around) and it gives one a view that they wouldn't normally get in a car. I have many fond memories of riding my bike when I was young and it saddens me to think that my grand children An interesting book. I never really considered all of the different benefits of riding a bike. There is the obvious health and environmental pluses, but it is also a great way to bring communities together, to reduce traffic accidents (cars tend to reduce their speeds and become more alert when they see bicyclists around) and it gives one a view that they wouldn't normally get in a car. I have many fond memories of riding my bike when I was young and it saddens me to think that my grand children may not be able to enjoy such memories. I hope that the tied is truly changing and that we will see more readily available choices for getting around, other than driving our cars. Bicycling is a great alternative and with safer routes for them I think (hope) they will be a more recognized mode of travel in the future.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    The narrative of one writer gathering information about his experience with bicycles, in comparison to that of others, including movements in New York, California and Portland, Oregon. To this point, I've enjoyed the sparse, almost analytical nature of his writing - while describing certain characters, he doesn't give in to extemporaneous segues or belittle others by not, and clearly defines a number of key individuals whose efforts as bicycle advocates have altered the landscape of urban transp The narrative of one writer gathering information about his experience with bicycles, in comparison to that of others, including movements in New York, California and Portland, Oregon. To this point, I've enjoyed the sparse, almost analytical nature of his writing - while describing certain characters, he doesn't give in to extemporaneous segues or belittle others by not, and clearly defines a number of key individuals whose efforts as bicycle advocates have altered the landscape of urban transportation. Although every paragraph is loaded with information and possibly in need of more citation, Mapes is adequately informing the reader that a cyclist is in the minority of the United States citizens using roads. Choosing to join that minority is done so at your own risk, risk of either bodily harm or general ignorance of the many unwritten codes of conduct shared by cyclists.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    More of a book for sustainable transportation policy wonks than for the casually interested bicycle commuter, but still, a good overview of the state of bicycle transportation today. The text read very much like a series of in-depth newspaper pieces, as one might expect from a reporter. Still, I appreciated the wide range of people Mapes talked with to write this book. I also appreciated how he put his money where his mouth is -- it seems most of his interviews were conducted while pedaling! I've More of a book for sustainable transportation policy wonks than for the casually interested bicycle commuter, but still, a good overview of the state of bicycle transportation today. The text read very much like a series of in-depth newspaper pieces, as one might expect from a reporter. Still, I appreciated the wide range of people Mapes talked with to write this book. I also appreciated how he put his money where his mouth is -- it seems most of his interviews were conducted while pedaling! I've been toting with the idea of commuting by bicycle again for a while. This book takes the approach of enlightening over persuading (which I prefer) and it's given me much food for thought.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Really probably a 4 star if you are into biking or transportation alternatives and a 1 star if you are not. An interesting review of efforts around the US to make biking a regular transportation mode with some discussion of very successful programs abroad. I recommend reading this if: 1. You cycling commuter already, especially if you are actively involved in promoting cycle commuting. 2. A regular cyclist even if you are not currently a cycling commuter. 3. Someone who is involved in efforts to im Really probably a 4 star if you are into biking or transportation alternatives and a 1 star if you are not. An interesting review of efforts around the US to make biking a regular transportation mode with some discussion of very successful programs abroad. I recommend reading this if: 1. You cycling commuter already, especially if you are actively involved in promoting cycle commuting. 2. A regular cyclist even if you are not currently a cycling commuter. 3. Someone who is involved in efforts to improve transportation. It would also be a useful education for car drivers that don't bike, but it may be hard to motivate them to read it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

    Only three stars because none of the information was new to me. That's unfair though, it's not the book's fault that I already love to ride my bike, commute by bike whenever I can and have absolutely no qualms about riding my bike in any attire and any weather (in fact, my current bike was bought specifically for its skirt-friendliness.) Pedaling Revolution would be a great introduction for anyone who wants to learn more about bicycle commuting/using bicycles as transportation, the different typ Only three stars because none of the information was new to me. That's unfair though, it's not the book's fault that I already love to ride my bike, commute by bike whenever I can and have absolutely no qualms about riding my bike in any attire and any weather (in fact, my current bike was bought specifically for its skirt-friendliness.) Pedaling Revolution would be a great introduction for anyone who wants to learn more about bicycle commuting/using bicycles as transportation, the different types of bike advocacy that are happening in the US and around the world, and the culture of bikes-as-transportation in places like Amsterdam, NYC and Portland, OR.

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