Book Report: Pedaling Revolution By Jeff Mapes
It’s been a while since I’ve done a book report, mostly because I never get time to read. Even though Pedaling Revolution from Jeff Mapes was very interesting, I found myself constantly searching for the time to squeeze in a chapter – or even just a few pages. I finally decided to make the effort to finish this book that I’ve started many months ago.
What interested me in this book was it’s sub-title: “How Cyclists are Changing American Cities”. In my recent years as a cyclist, I’ve become somewhat of an armchair advocate, wanting a better, more vibrant cycling community where I live. I wanted to see how other bike friendly cities have been so successful and see how I can relate that success to north Texas.
My read is that Jeff Mapes takes a thorough, while neutral perspective on advocacy with Pedaling Revolution. Instead of being hung up on just the positives of cycling and infrastructure, he takes a more editorial view by articulating not only the advantages and benefits, but also the struggles and problems of cycling change. In addition, his narration of some of his travels made me feel as though I was there.
Pedaling Revolution starts off with a chapter about the Cycling Political Movement. Being a senior political reporter for a Portland newspaper, Jeff Mapes does an extensive job covering issues faced by several cycling advocates – from John Forester to Representative Jim Oberstar.
Mapes also touches a bit on the next generation of cyclists, the New Urban Bike Culture and it’s effect on the future of cycling.
The book rolls into several chapters discussing successful bike friendly cities including Amsterdam, Davis, Portland, and New York. In each chapter he discusses how each city didn’t start bike friendly, but made the concerted effort to create a better culture and community by striving to build a better infrastructure for cyclists. But it wasn’t all perfect. Each city had their share of strain and trouble.
Although those pages were pretty informative, I found the last three chapters very interesting. Overcoming Safety Barriers, Health and the Bicycle and Bringing Kids Back to Bikes. In the Safety Barriers chapter, two things stuck out the most for me, the importance of increasing bicycle awareness and benefits of cycling education. In the Health chapter, Mapes discusses both the risks and benefits of cycling. The chapter about Kids and Bikes made me feel both guilty and inspired about my own community of cycling youth. He questions the future of cycling if it gets lost with the younger generations.
Overall, Pedaling Revolution is a good book to read for any armchair advocates. It helps you think about the strengths and limitations of your community and how you can optimize them to build a better bike culture.