Monday, December 14, 2009

The Cyclist's Manifesto

The Cyclist's Manifesto is the second Robert Hurst book I've read, which should tell you that I like what he has to say enough to continue to buy his books. That, combined with the fact that I've been an avid cyclist my entire life will reveal my bias towards bicycles as a mode of transportation. A bias that Mr. Hurst most definitely shares.

In general I'm against continuing to read things that support what you already believe (what's the point?). It tends to lead to narrow-mindedness and intolerance of foreign ideas. But I do recommend reading this book even if you already toe the party line. He has a way of articulating ideas that really resonates and invigorates. I found it inspirational enough that I've re-dedicated myself as a soldier in the revolution. I learned some new things along the way, but in general it performed the role of a great pep talk, which is exactly what I was looking for.

However many copies of this book get sold my bet is that almost to the reader he is preaching to the choir. This is a shame because I think this book has a lot to offer the bicycle-curious. Some of his rants seem to play a little fast and loose with the facts (while staying true in a general sense). Additionally, his hard-line stance (even for a cyclist) may be repelling to some, but in the end his message is truly liberating.

The book begins with the history where cars and bicycles converge (if you didn't already know this, these histories are very much intertwined), continues on with the mess that we've created through political and personal cowardice, and ends with a bang that would likely convert even the hardened, gas guzzling SUV pilot.

Admittedly he provides no easy answers. He even claims that someone who doesn't own a car or even take the bus is still beholden to petroleum, like it or not. I'm left with the impression that if everyone went to bicycles tomorrow it would be an improvement, but still wouldn't solve the energy problem.

Anyone reading this book who converts to a bicycle way of life is unlikely to change the world, but will, however, change their own world. Dramatically. And that, comrades, is where this book truly shines.

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