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Bike Battles: A History of Sharing the…

Bike Battles: A History of Sharing the American Road

by James Longhurst

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a broad look at a broad and intangible problem - why can't all American cities grasp multi-modo streets, and what's the history behind our stubbornness? longhurst explores the relationships between industry, social class, racism, policy, popular opinion, and the trusty bicycle. how did America go from the beginnings of expansive bike networks and bikes as utilitarian transport in the early 20th century to "bikes are toys" myth? what does that have to do with wwii and racist/fear-based trade policy? how did vehicular cycling stagnate progress in many cities (cough, Pittsburgh)? and finally, longhurst argues that sharing streets will prepare us for an ever-dynamic and uncertain future where gas taxes fail to fund auto-only infrastructure.

if I had written this book I would have included more extensive research on what works and has worked in Portland and Davis. this book left me with a somewhat hopeless feeling, especially currently stuck in a very car-centric urban neighborhood longing for those glorious greenways and sidewalk networks (we're getting there! I hope). but I still think anyone who ever uses a road or sidewalk for any purpose needs to read this book. ( )
  weeta | Jul 21, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0295994681, Hardcover)

Americans have been riding bikes for more than a century now. So why are most American cities still so ill-prepared to handle cyclists? James Longhurst, a historian and avid cyclist, tackles that question by tracing the contentious debates between American bike riders, motorists, and pedestrians over the shared road.

Bike Battles explores the different ways that Americans have thought about the bicycle through popular songs, merit badge pamphlets, advertising, films, newspapers and sitcoms. Those associations shaped the actions of government and the courts when they intervened in bike policy through lawsuits, traffic control, road building, taxation, rationing, import tariffs, safety education and bike lanes from the 1870s to the 1970s.

Today, cycling in American urban centers remains a challenge as city planners, political pundits, and residents continue to argue over bike lanes, bike-share programs, law enforcement, sustainability, and public safety. Combining fascinating new research from a wide range of sources with a true passion for the topic, Longhurst shows us that these battles are nothing new; in fact they're simply a continuation of the original battle over who is―and isn't―welcome on our roads.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 18 Jul 2015 23:14:45 -0400)

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