Book Review: In The City of Bikes by Pete Jordan
Cycling in Washington, DC is much better now than it was even ten years ago. The city has installed bike lanes, paths, and other infrastructure to make it easier to get around by bicycle. Yet, we’re still at only about 5% of modeshare, or the percentage of people using bikes to commute. How do we grow this? How can we become a great cycling city?
Why can’t we be like Europe?
In The City of Bikes by Pete Jordan describes how the Dutch became a country of cyclists all while the United States grew its automobile infrastructure.
You don’t become the cycling capital of the world by accident.
It takes a concerted effort from policy makers and road users alike.
The movement called Stop de Kindermoord (literally, Stop the Child Murder) formed following a rise in road casualties in Amsterdam. These protests bought about changes in road design and an emphasis on prioritizing “people-focused” streets. Parking laws had been in place since the advent of the automobile, prohibiting the parking of private vehicles on public space.
Pete Jordan takes a journey through Amsterdam from one side to the other in search of cycling nuns and a stolen bike, while telling the history of bicycles and cycling culture. He shares his admiration for the Dutch determination to keep riding on wheels without tires during the occupation. He keeps notes on numbers of bikes passing his windows, split into categories like:
Cycling with an open umbrella
Cycling while on a cell phone
Cycling with dogs as passengers
Pete doesn’t lay out a plan for how to build a cycling city, but he does show how the Dutch got there. What does this mean for Washington, DC? Can we become a cycling capitol? Just looking at the bikes in the shop this week (Yuba Mundos, electric assist Gazelles) I think we can. Fully 80% of the bikes in for repair have some sort of rack or basket, indicating their utility.
We’re not quite Portland or Amsterdam yet, but our numbers keep growing.
Pick up a copy of this book from our neighbors at Solid State Books , and let them know Loren sent you.