One Less Car: Bicycling and the Politics of Automobilityby Zack Furness
Pub. Date: 03/28/2010
Publisher: Temple University Press
Although millions of people in the United States love to ride bicycles for exercise or leisure, statistics show that only 1 percent of the total U.S. population uses bicycles for transportation-and barely half as many people bike to work. In his original and exciting book, One Less Car, Zack Furness examines what it means historically, culturally, socioeconomically,… See more details below
Although millions of people in the United States love to ride bicycles for exercise or leisure, statistics show that only 1 percent of the total U.S. population uses bicycles for transportation-and barely half as many people bike to work. In his original and exciting book, One Less Car, Zack Furness examines what it means historically, culturally, socioeconomically, and politically to be a bicycle transportation advocate/activist.
Presenting an underground subculture of bike enthusiasts who aggressively resist car culture, Furness maps out the cultural trajectories between mobility, technology, urban space and everyday life. He connects bicycling to radical politics, public demonstrations, alternative media production (e.g., 'zines), as well as to the development of community programs throughout the world.
One Less Car also positions the bicycle as an object with which to analyze and critique some of the dominant cultural and political formations in the U.S.-and even breaks down barriers of race, class and gender privilege that are interconnected to mobility. For Furness, bicycling can be a form of liberation and a way to support social and environmental justice. So, he asks, Why aren't more Americans adopting bikes for their transportation needs?
Table of Contents
1 Introductions and Intersections
2 Becoming Auto-Mobile
3 Vélorutionaries and the Right to the (Bikeable) City
4 Critical Mass and the Functions of Bicycle Protest
5 Two-Wheeled Terrors and Forty-Year-Old Virgins: Mass Media and the Representation of Bicycling
6 DIY Bike Culture
7 Handouts, Hand Ups, or Just Lending a Hand? Community Bike Projects, Bicycle Aid, and Competing Visions of Development under Globalization
8 Conclusion, or "We Have Nothing to Lose but Our (Bike) Chains"
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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While I'm not a bike commuter or one of those guys who has a helmet strapped to his bag at all times, I'm a fan of bicycles and a bit jaded on American car culture (I grew up in the Midwest). I saw the author speak at the Radical Bookfair in Baltimore this fall and I eventually decided to pick up One Less Car. Overall, I think the book is an interesting take on biking that introduced me to some new ideas about the relationships between transportation, politics and culture. Some of the content won't be entirely groundbreaking for folks who have read about suburban sprawl, car culture, etc. but there's also lots of material that I haven't run across in other books about bicycling (though I'm halfway through Jeff Mapes' book and really liking it). For example, there are chapters on media representations of bicyclists, bike subcultures, and even stuff on aid programs and economic development in Africa and Central America. In several places the phrasing could sound less 'academic' and still get the point across, but it's book by a professor and that sort of thing comes with the territory, I guess. It's a reasonable trade-off for the content and the research, but it might bug folks who don't typically read books on university presses. I really liked the introduction and conclusion, but Chapters 5 and 6 were my favorites. Chapter 4 (on Critical Mass) was my least favorite only because I'm sick of hearing about the rides. My only real complaint is that I wish there were more pictures and illustrations to capture some of the events, bikes and people discussed in the book. I'm a bit biased since I'm a photographer, but a few more visuals still would have been nice.