Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne (yes, that David Byrne)

published 2009 latest edition 2010

I rather enjoyed this view of the world from inside the head of one of my favorite inventive musicians. David Byrne has been traveling the world as a musician and artist for decades and for many of those years has either carried a bike with him or rented a bike once he arrived. He has also been the type of person to keep a journal so had a lot of material to draw from when his agent, Scott Moyers suggested writing a this book.

For those that might wonder, why take a bicycle on business trips, it is one of the best ways to experience your surroundings. It puts the rider into their environment rather than shielding them with steel and glass, climate control and audio accompaniment that a motor vehicle does. A bicycle is very similar to walking in that the rider can interact with pedestrians and other bicyclists eye to eye, wave and say hello. This is a far more friendly and harmonizing way to traverse neighborhoods and downtowns. David also mentioned it’s a great way to ‘center’ yourself after the rigors of travel, adjust to the locale, and get a bit of exercise after a long plane journey.

David shares some his interactions with some (human oriented?) urban designers, like the Denmark’s Jan Gehl or this quote from Enrique Peñalosa who instituted bike and pedestrian streets and rapid transit in Bogotá when he was mayor, “If a bike lane isn’t safe for an eight-year-old child, it isn’t really a bike lane.”

Bicycle Diaries is available at your local library in print and in e-book forms. See also

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