Ken Deshaies's Reviews > Bicycle Diaries

Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne
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May 01, 2012

really liked it
Read in April, 2012

David Byrne is one of the more creative entertainers on the planet. From his seminal band, "Talking Heads", to his foray into film with "True Stories" (a wonderfully engaging and funny movie), he's kept a good part of America talking. It turns out that he had a penchant for bicycling and tended to bring a folding bike along on his tours. Hence, while members of other bands might be out drinking or drugging, David was leisurely bicycling his way through cities and bergs around the world. He found that this type of slowed-down travel allowed him to learn much about the way cities are built, how inhabitants have responded to both the positive and negative aspects of city life, and to meet many of the artists (of all stripe) who bring energy to their environs.

So, while the title may make you think that this is strictly about bicycling, it is so much more. Byrne has a well developed ear for nuance, along with an uncanny ability to convey both the visceral and palliative feelings of those with whom he engages. He brings witness to the contrasts of a bicycle friendly city like Berlin with the less bike friendly and more car designed cities of America. But he offers hope, detailing for example, the major strides in making New York City much more friendly to us two-wheelers. Would that more of our cities were built with that in mind, or lacking that, that their leaders had a conscience that would lead them toward alleviating traffic congestion by encouraging both bicycling and walking.

With people like David Byrne leading the charge, we just might be "on the right path".
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