If you were ever searching for a single reference resource on all things bicycles, then the book, On Bicycles: 50 Ways the Bike Culture Can Change Your Life, is definitely the place to start. This fine compendium is a required resource for anyone who is involved in bicycle advocacy, bicycle planning, and many other aspects of the bicycle community. The book was expertly edited by Amy Walker who also authored nine of the fifty chapters contain within the publication.
On Bicycles is broken down into four subsections – ‘All the Right Reasons’, ‘Gearing Up’, ‘Community and Culture’, and ‘Getting Serious’, which explore the worldwide bicycling boom from numerous perspectives. I found the book to be very useful in the fact that it highlighted a number of tangents of the bicycle culture that I did not know existed or was only vaguely family with. These included, but were not limited to bike parties, Ciclovia, bike collective/cooperatives, and earn-a-bike programs. All-in-all, Stephen Blakely’s review which describes the book as, “The Whole Earth Catalog of Bicycle Culture” is spot-on. It is well worth adding On Bicycles to your velo-centric library.
Contained in the book were many fine quotes, but here’s one by Amy Walker that I believe truly captures the spiritual essence of On Bicycles.
“As bicycling grows, perhaps it won’t be such a distinct subculture; perhaps it will become a familiar part of our landscape. But I think we’ll always have a special reverence for the bicycle. Bikes are a beautiful paradox: a tool and a toy, a job and a joy, fun and efficient at the same time. In the future, I imagine, we’ll see monuments built to the bike, where people will reflect on how a simple machine helped humanity to attain grace and balance.” (page 197)
A beautiful paradox indeed! Thank you Amy, et. al. for this fine book!