Jeff Mapes, author of “Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities,” provides an in-depth history of cycling, and looks at how cycling is changing U.S. cities for the better. Although in the U.S. cycling has long been viewed as a recreational activity, he appropriately ties together the rise of urban biking with urban planning in a story that needed to be told. The story goes a bit like this, cycling isn’t just about the spandex clad road racer or an activity left to children, it is about an office worker commuting to their job, a Portlandite picking up his or her groceries, an American using a bicycle as part of their life, and how that change has just begun to come about.
Chapter after chapter explores how cities such as Portland, Davis, and New York City have been able to increase ridership by making cycling an appealing option. For example, in Portland the city has spent many years building bike infrastructure such as bike boulevards, bike boxes, and bike sharrows and has then seen a significant increase in ridership follow. In New York City separated bike lanes and buffered bike lanes, have been developed on busy streets to make riding a bike in New York traffic more palatable to the occasional rider. U.S. cities and cyclists across the U.S. point to European cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam as models to be learned from as they have implemented or pioneered many of these infrastructure items and cycling related policies that have encouraged significantly higher ridership numbers than seen in the U.S.
And although, as Mapes points out, the U.S. has seen a renewed interest in biking before this time “cyclists are changing American cities.”