Book Review: Pedal Power by J. Harry Wray


Author: J. Harry Wray
Title: Pedal power : the quiet rise of the bicycle in American public life
Publication Info: Boulder, Colo. : Paradigm Publishers, c2008.
ISBN: 9781594514623

Summary/Review:

Wray writes in a dry, professorial tone about bicycle culture in the United States through a political science approach.  While not the best written book it does have a lot of interesting facts and ideas about American cyclists.  I think this book is best summarized with a little bit about each chapter

  1. Contrasting Visions – Wray introduces his political science method and explains that he will be writing about the political importance of bicycling.
  2. Biking in Amsterdam – A visit to the bike friendly city delves into the history of how bicycle accommodations were created and what effect they have on that city’s politics and culture.
  3. Culture Storm – Examining the way that Americans self-identify as “individualists” and how this identity appears to clash with bike culture.
  4. Biking Eccentrics – The stories of a people Wray knows in Chicago who have committed themselves to a bicycle-based lifestyle.
  5. Building the Case – Political advocates such as the League of American Bicyclists and Chicago Bicycle Federation.
  6. Pushing the Envelope – Organizations and leaderless movements on the cutting edge of bicycling including Critical Mass, SHIFT, ChiTown Cruisers, and The Rat Patrol.
  7. Politicians Who Matter – Portraits of a few elected leaders who have bicycle-lifestyles and are leaders of bicycle-friendly legislation.
  8. Metapolitics, Minibikes – The political effect of bicycling in reaction to environmental degradation and global warming.

All in all this is a good introductory look at the important political issues of the day relating to bicycling.

Recommended books: Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do by Tom Vanderbilt, Asphalt Nation: How the Automobile Took Over America and How We Can Take It Back by Jane Holtz Kay
Rating:  ***

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