On Bicycles

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The small but growing collection of thoughtful books about bicycle transportation is about to have one new member — Amy Walker’s forthcoming On Bicycles: 50 Ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life. It’s a volume of 50 essays from various contributors. I wrote two, one on the Safety in Numbers effect, and one giving a historical perspective on women and bicycling.

A Vancouver newspaper interviewed Walker last year, including some of her thoughts on gender and cycling as well as the story of how she co-founded the bicycle transportation magazine Momentum.

Incidentally, you can read a longish interview with her cofounder Carmen Mills in the third issue of Taking the Lane zine on topics ranging from bicycling, dancing, community organizing, and life as an activist. Embarrassingly for my reputation as a competent googler, I didn’t make the Momentum connection until after the issue had gone to print. You can read more of her writing over at her blog, Bicycle Buddha.

Back to On Bicycles and its intrepid editor. Walker took a few steps back from day to day work at Momentum a few months ago, around the same time the magazine was gearing up for its 50th anniversary and a comprehensive rebranding as a more mainstream lifestyle magazine — it hasn’t lost its willingness to take on sticky political topics, but it’s unabashedly slicker, more focused on fashion and products that will appeal to an increasingly professional audience.

There’s a magazine-like quality to the final lineup of Walker’s book — the table of contents reads like a manifesto on the incredible diversity and passion centered around bicycle transportation. Like the earlier incarnations of Momentum, there’s truly something for everyone in here, whether you’re an unbathed radical or a stylish mom or your entire life revolves around internally geared hubs. You can’t define a movement by its market share, not if it’s going to have any resilience and lasting power. Which, in an age where publishing is more and more targeted towards carefully focus-grouped niches, is all the more reason to break the mold and buy this book.