Review of “The Bohemian Guide to Urban Cycling”


Source: amazon.com

Source: amazon.com

I recently completed a compelling book entitled, The Bohemian Guide to Urban Cycling. Afterwards, I waited for a few weeks before writing this post because the book’s theme does a significant about-face. The first half identifies and repeats a number of common bicycling topics, including the economic benefits of bicycling, choosing a bike, and cycling fashion. While there are some new ideas here, much of what is cited has been previously documented.

Then, as author Sean Benesh notes in the Table of Contents, the book makes an Awkward Transition and becomes a passionate and culturally important discussion on social equity issues. This section contains most of the meat and potatoes of the book, as well as another surprise from the author himself.

Throughout, Portland, Oregon is the primary focus of Mr. Benesh’s attention, as it is where he resides. He also refers to a number of past and/or comparable experiences in Tucson, Arizona and Vancouver (Burnaby), British Columbia, Canada too. Here are a few highlights from this unique perspective into bicycling and its impact on society:

  •  “For cycling to become more mainstream it has to move beyond middle-age men in Lycra and into the more everyday usage of bikes.” (page 51)
  • “The more that we can normalize the use of bicycles in our culture the greater the chance we have to see our ridership grow among people who use bikes for work trips, errands, and social outings.” (page 52)
  • “If we want to see our numbers even crest the ten percent ridership across the city [Portland] we need to make bicycling safer and more pleasant. That usually means some kind of separated facility.” (page 58)
  • “There is a growing connection in the relationship between amenity– or service-oriented businesses and the proximity to bicycle thoroughfares.” (page 64)
  • “I’m not anti-cars, but I believe more Americans would transition to a ‘car-lite’ lifestyle if they saw the benefits of urban cycling as a lifestyle and a mode of transportation.” (page 130)
  • “I have come to realize owning an auto is not an American right. They are a privilege, and unfortunately it is the privileged who can afford to buy and use them. When we make cities, city services, and businesses accessible only by those who can afford to own a car, inequity begins rearing its ugly head.” (page 163)
  • “Bike lanes don’t cut it. We need separated bike facilities where we’re comfortable taking an eight- and an eighty-year-old out on the streets. (page 168)
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2 Responses to Review of “The Bohemian Guide to Urban Cycling”

  1. Tracy Corral says:

    The problem with separated bicycle facilities is that the create an us/them dynamic. Us:Car drivers, Them:Bicyclists. There are places where separated facilities aren’t appropriate, so what are the bicyclists expected to do in those cases? It might not be feasible for them to ride on the road with an Us/them dynamic. The car drivers don’t expect cyclists to be on the road in those cases. Studies have shown that the more cyclists on the road riding with traffic, the more cars are used to seeing them on the road and the safer cyclists on the road are. Take away cyclists’ access to the roads with separate facilities and they won’t be as safe.

    Like

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