Bike Book Reviews

BCA loves everything bike. And we try to keep on top of what is circulating in the book world. Below are some worthwhile reads.  


Along A Long Road by Frank Viva

Publisher Comments:

Follow that road. Speed off on an eventful bicycle ride along the bold yellow road that cuts through town, by the sea, and through the country. Ride up and around, along and through, out and down. Frank’s striking graphic style is executed in just five joyous colors, and his spare, rhythmic language is infectious. Hit a bump? Get back on track Reach the end? Start again
“A note explains that newcomer Viva created the art for this celebration of cycling ‘as a single, continuous thirty-five-foot-long piece of art.’ The uniting element is a golden, glossy ribbon of road that winds, unbroken (but for a tunnel), through the matte pages of the entire book, even onto the endpapers and covers. Suggestive of linocut prints, Viva’s artwork combines supple curves, big areas of soft black background, light blue for water and shading, and the occasional brick-red accent; it’s simultaneously stylish and restrained. Simple, lilting text reproduces the smooth, rhythmic pace of cycling and the meditative state of mind it induces. ‘Along a long road,’ Viva starts, showing the cyclist in a grove of birches, ‘going up,’ he continues, as the cyclist climbs an incline, passing a snail. ‘Around a small town and down,’ he continues, as the road snakes past a football field, a bird flies overhead, and a figure on a tractor waves in the distance. It’s the kind of book that creates a mood rather than telling a story, evoking the freedom of traveling, the joy of movement, and the exhilaration of being outside. Ages 3 — 6. (June)” Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Joy Ride

by Mia Birk

Publisher Comments:


Joyride: Pedaling Toward a Healthier Planet is pioneering transportation leader Mia Birk’s 20-year crusade to integrate bicycling into daily life. With a table scrap of funding, she led a revolution that grew Portland, OR into the #1 American cycling city.

Through a panoply of hilarious and poignant stories, Birk takes readers on a 20-year rollercoaster journey of global and local discovery and education, while bringing into sharp focus some of the planet’s most pressing and hotly debated energy and environmental issues,policies, shortcomings, and solutions.

The journey begins in the heart of car culture U.S.A. with Birk’s car-addicted youth in Dallas, TX. As Birk breaks away from home and a typical sedentary American lifestyle, she settles in Portland, OR, where she and a cast of larger-than-life characters lead Portland’s transformation into the nation’s most bicycle friendly city. You’ll learn about the foibles, motivations, passion, and surprising compassion of the people who decide what a city will become, the battles they fought, their triumphs, failures, and results.

After leading the Portland revolution, Birk hits the road, spreading her vision from the California suburbs to the Cascade foothills, the beaches, plains, large cities, small towns, ex-urbs, and the heartland of rural America. Careening towards big obstacles, getting scraped and bruised by political glaciers, she overcomes old ways of thinking and finds ways to make communities — even Dallas — more human, healthy, safe, and splendid.

Written as a stylistic blend of memoir, rollicking stories, and lessons, Birk shows that bicycling can be a significant and incredibly positive means of transportation and an economic powerhouse for businesses who are realizing the health, safety, economic, environmental, and livability benefits of integrating bicycling and walking into daily life.

While many books today extol the pain of our world’s traffic congestion, air quality, and economic, safety, land-use, and health problems, Joyride is the antidote, offering hope to any and everyone interested in changing our world for the better, one pedal stroke at a time.


“Mia Birk is one of the most important figures in America’s urban biking renaissance.” Jeff Mapes, author of Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities

Bicycle Diaries

by David Byrnebicycle-diaries-200

If you don’t already know, David Byrne loves bikes and has become a staunch advocate for bicycle transportation. His new book, Bicycle Diaries, is worth picking up.

Publisher’s Comments:

A renowned musician and visual artist presents an idiosyncratic behind-the-handlebars view of the world’s cities.

Since the early 1980s, David Byrne has been riding a bike as his principal means of transportation in New York City. Two decades ago, he discovered folding bikes and started taking them on tour. Byrne’s choice was made out of convenience rather than political motivation, but the more cities he saw from his bicycle, the more he became hooked on this mode of transport and the sense of liberation it provided. Convinced that urban biking opens one’s eyes to the inner workings and rhythms of a city’s geography and population, Byrne began keeping a journal of his observations and insights.

An account of what he sees and whom he meets as he pedals through metropoles from Berlin to Buenos Aires, Istanbul to San Francisco, Manila to New York, Bicycle Diaries also records Byrne’s thoughts on world music, urban planning, fashion, architecture, cultural dislocation, and much more, all conveyed with a highly personal mixture of humor, curiosity, and humility. Part travelogue, part journal, part photo album, Bicycle Diaries is an eye-opening celebration of seeing the world from the seat of a bike.

Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities

by Jeff Mapes ped rev

Jeff Mape’s Pedaling Revolution is an absolute must-read for anyone interested in the history of the bicycle transportation movement and what our future could look like if our transportation decision-makers embraced bikes. It is an inspiring read that will get you fired up to voice your opinion when it comes to improving bicycle infrastructure and creating liveable cities. Oh, and of course it will inspire you to ride your bike.

Publisher Comments:

“A growing number of Americans, mounted on their bicycles like some new kind of urban cowboy, are mixing it up with swift, two-ton motor vehicles as they create a new society on the streets. They’re finding physical fitness, low-cost transportation, environmental purity — and, still all too often, Wild West risks of sudden death or injury.”
— from the Introduction

In a world of increasing traffic congestion, a grassroots movement is carving out a niche for bicycles on city streets. Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Citiesexplores the growing bike culture that is changing the look and feel of cities, suburbs, and small towns across North America.

From traffic-dodging bike messengers to tattooed teenagers on battered bikes, from riders in spandex to well-dressed executives, ordinary citizens are becoming transportation revolutionaries. Jeff Mapes traces the growth of bicycle advocacy and explores the environmental, safety, and health aspects of bicycling. He rides with bicycle advocates who are taming the streets of New York City, joins the street circus that is Critical Mass in San Francisco, and gets inspired by the everyday folk pedaling in Amsterdam, the nirvana of American bike activists. Chapters focused on big cities, college towns, and America’s most successful bike city, Portland, show how cyclists, with the encouragement of local officials, are claiming a share of the valuable streetscape.

How to Live Well Without a Owning a Car

by Chris Balishhow_to_live

I discovered this book while listening to an interview with the author on NPR. This is the book that motivated me to sell my car. We are not quite a car-free family, but “car-lite”. Balish’s main theme throughout the book is the insane economics associated with car ownership. I recently did the math and discovered that I am saving over $4500 a year after selling my car. The national average cost of owning a car is over $8000. One of the best decisions I have made in my life.

Publisher’s Comments:

How To Live Well Without Owning A Car is a new nonfiction book by award-winning journalist and author Chris Balish. The book suggests taking a different path — a car-free path. The program in this book will show you how to live a full, active life without owning a car. And without a car to pay for, practically anyone can get out of debt, save money, and even achieve financial freedom. The truth is that tens of millions of working Americans do not need to own a car.

There’s no doubt that cars, trucks, and SUVs are useful tools. They provide instant, on-demand transportation at a moment’s notice. They can haul heavy loads and help you run errands. And they can whisk you out of town for a weekend away. That’s why this book does not suggest that you never use a car or never ride in one. This book simply argues that millions of Americans can get along just fine and save a fortune by not owning a car. When you do need one you can rent or use car sharing.

Living car-free in America is not difficult, but it does require some mild lifestyle changes. This book will walk you through the process step by step. The strategies in this book will help put you on the car-free path to financial freedom; or, if you do not wish to get rid of your car entirely, they’ll help you save money by using your car less. So even if living “car-free” isn’t your style, this book can show you how to live happily “car-lite.”

The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and His Mysterious Disappearance

Publisher Comments:

In the late 1880s, Frank Lenz of Pittsburgh, a renowned high-wheel racer and long-distance tourist, dreamed of cycling around the world. He finally got his chance by recasting himself as a champion of the downsized “safety-bicycle” with inflatable tires, the forerunner of the modern road bike that was about to become wildly popular. In the spring of 1892 he quit his accounting job and gamely set out west to cover twenty thousand miles over three continents as a correspondent for Outing magazine.Two years later, after having survived countless near disasters and unimaginable hardships, he approached Europe for the final leg. He never made it. His mysterious disappearance in eastern Turkey sparked an international outcry and compelled Outing to send William Sachtleben, another larger-than-life cyclist, on Lenz’s trail. Bringing to light a wealth of information, Herlihy’s gripping narrative captures the soaring joys and constant dangers accompanying the bicycle adventurer in the days before paved roads and automobiles. This untold story culminates with Sachtleben’s heroic effort to bring Lenzs accused murderers to justice, even as troubled Turkey teetered on the edge of collapse.


“When the bicycle first gained popularity in the 1880s, intrepid daredevils were quick to seize upon it as a tool of exploration and an indicator of resourcefulness. Frank Lenz and William Sachtleben were two such enthusiasts. Sachtleben and a partner had gained notoriety for cycling almost across the globe, including through China, a region that was alien to Westerners at the time (they traversed particularly difficult sections by train). But Lenz proposes something truly dangerous: he will cycle the entire world alone, and he won’t shy away from the hard parts. Lenz’s exploits become the talk of the cycling world, but don’t reach prominence in America until he disappears in eastern Turkey, a hairsbreadth from reaching his goal. Sachtleben is sent to Turkey to investigate and ends up wading through government corruption, tribal alliances, and a region in the throes of revolution. This meticulously-researched account exposes readers to an unfamiliar world. Readers with a love of cycling or curiosity about this moment in history will appreciate Herlihy’s knowledge and passion, but the simply curious may feel at times like they’re pedaling uphill.” Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

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