In an era of steep gas prices, snarled traffic, catastrophic climate change, and a yearning for a higher quality of life, interest in bike-friendly public policies is surging nationwide. A surprising array of political organizations, visionary politicians, and colorful individuals powers this movement and a growing number of bike enthusiasts are taking to the streets. From the night rides of Critical Mass to the dumpster-diving Rat Patrol, this book shows the eccentric side of the bicycling universe even as it illustrates the mainstream efforts of politicians like U.S. Representative Jim Oberstar and plain folks like “Biker Mama” Jane Healy. Dedicated to the idea that biking is an ongoing act of nondestructive living, Pedal Power shows why the dominance of the automobile is yesterday’s idea and edges us closer to a more democratic, multimodal transportation system so essential in the age of global warming. The bike, regarded as irrelevant to the 20th century, is making a comeback in the 21st. Pedal Power takes us there and suggests that the most compelling thing about riding is that it changes the way people experience the world and, therefore, the way they think.
J. Harry Wray is a bike enthusiast and Professor of Political Science at DePaul University in Chicago, one of the bike-friendliest cities in the nation. He received his B.A. from Whittier College and his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, where the country roads sparked his interest in biking. Now he teaches courses in which students bike through every side of the city of Chicago—from the South Side to the lakeside—and shows them how politics, economics, and the environment combine to affect culture and be affected by it. Wray’s previous books include Sense and Non-Sense: American Culture and Politics (2000), and, with Robert D. Holsworth, American Politics and Everyday Life (1986).
Chapter 1 Contrasting Visions: The Bike Saddle versus the Car Seat and Why It Matters Politically
Chapter 2 Biking in Amsterdam: The Politics of the Possible
Chapter 3 Culture Storm
Individualism and Materialism
The American Experience
The Gathering Culture Storm
Chapter 4 Biking Eccentrics: Who Are These Folks, Anyway?
Randy Neufeld: The Pioneer
Alex Wilson: The Saint
Gin Kilgore and Michael Burton: Love Me, Love My Bike
Jane Healy: Biker Mama
Chapter 5 Building the Case: The Politics Advocates
Chapter 6 Pushing the Envelope: Populist Politics
Shift (to Bikes)
The Rat Patrol
Chapter 7 Politicians Who Matter
Chapter 8 Metapolitics, Minibikes
A Global Warming Primer
Can We Respond? Not If…
The Kyoto Protocol and Self-Interest
Pedaling into a Future
Chapter 9 Pedaling into the Future