The Talking Heads Want You To Ride A Bike
I rather liked the review of Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities that appeared in Sunday's New York Times. But I liked it much more after I found that it was written by David Byrne, frontman for the Talking Heads. He says:
“Pedaling Revolution” is not about mountain biking the Moab sandstone formations in Utah or the network of bucolic paths that link some of the rural Massachusetts colleges; it’s not about racing, Lance Armstrong or what kind of spandex to buy. Nor is it about the various forms of extreme biking that have arisen lately: bike jousting on specially made high-horse bikes, BMX tricks or the arcane world of fixed-gear bikes, or fixies. For decades, Americans have too often seen cycling as a kind of macho extreme sport, which has actually done a lot to damage the cause of winning acceptance for biking as a legitimate form of transportation.
If your association with bikes is guys in spandex narrowly missing you on the weekends or YouTube videos of kids flying over ramps on their clown-size bikes, you’re likely to think that bikes are for only the athletic and the risk-prone. Manufacturers in the United States have tended to make bikes that look like the two-wheeled equivalent of Hummers, with fat tires and stocky frames necessitating a hunched-over riding position that is downright unsafe for urban biking and commuting. But that’s been changing for at least a few years now.
True enough. I resisted commuter biking for a long time. I thought of biking like I thought of basketball: I like both, but I don't want to dribble on my way to work. Getting a bike, as it turns out, was the single largest improvement I've made in my quality of life in D.C. Biking as recreation and biking as transportation are, in sum, two different things. So I recommend it!
To be honest, though, this post really exists for two reasons: To note that David Byrne wrote a book review, and to put up this YouTube of Byrne performing the topically appropriate "Road to Nowhere."
June 1, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
Categories: Urban Policy
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