Cyclists Manifesto

While on my 4 day visit to see my family in Maine I spent the evenings up late (on Oregon time) reading Robert Hurst's The Cyclist's Manifesto. I was still high on Jeff Mapes' Pedaling Revolution and wasn't let down at all.
Hurst excels in one area in particular I think, and that is his incredibly level headed assesment of statistics. Often he suggested that many studies that cyclists latch on to readily (such as those that indicate lower death rates on bikes than in cars, etc) were conducted poorly, or lopsidedly.
His creative sense of humor also stands out.
One idea that struck me came up when he was discussing how america fits into the 'biking world'. Generally I feel that activists and developers are looking to countries and cities where more people bike and try to emulate them. Copenhagen, Amsterdam, China, etc. Hurst finds all of the deabate over the pros and cons of cycletracks (bike lanes separated by a small curb), bike lanes, etc a bit unproductive. He suggests that instead of trying to become like other cities and countries are, we need to develop an American way of cycling. Our infrastructure is different. Our culture and history are different. Shouldn't our cycling be different? Hurst spends some good time on 'sharrows', bike arrows that do nothing except remind cars on the road that bikes have the right to the lane. These sharrows when placed down a side street constitute a bike boulevard. He also suggests that there are American solutions waiting to happen as well, and that no individual idea can 'cure' our bike problems.
I kind of like this idea. It frees us to invent our own way. Until we start doing it better than Europe I think we will struggle with our identity as American cyclists. (although 'cyclists' sounds so sporty, I mean you all on bikes!)
I good book I highly recommend.
Sam is reading Pedaling Revolution now, and I have Robert Hurst's previous book The Art of Cycling waiting for me when I get back to Portland.

Be safe!


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