Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rather Ride

I went to Town Hall last night to see David Byrne talk about bicycles and the future of transportation and what I took away from it was that my favorite aspect of bicycle advocacy is bicycle riding; or, that is, I tend to lose patience with talking about bikes when I could be riding them.
(Of course, here I am “talking” about them; so, if I were you, I’d stop reading right now and pedal away.)

The former Talking Head was promoting his new book, Bicycle Diaries, which, at thirty or so pages into it, I’m enjoying more or less. He does a good job mixing travelogue and philosophizing; I certainly share his perspective on how great it is to ride around in a city you’re unfamiliar with—or even one you know pretty well—as a way to get to know it better.

He sat on a panel discussion with three other people involved in working towards transportation alternatives—some kind of urban planner, a functionary for the Department of Transportation, and the acting Executive Director of a bicycle advocacy non-profit—and frankly, if it weren’t that he was David Byrne, I’d have been pretty bored with all four speakers.

The talented Mr. B. did show a few charming slides from his two-wheeled travels and he affected a reasonably effective absent-minded professor sort of schtick, but the whole event struck me as a bit of a bait-and-switch, even down to the penitent letter from the owner of Elliot Bay books, stuck in my copy of Bicycle Diaries apologizing for it not being autographed by the author, as was promised as part of the $30.00 admission price for the evening.

Still, it was pleasant to be out of the house on a Monday night, surrounded by so many fans of cycling; I’ll give it that, at least.

Frankly, though, I think I do more for the cause of bicycling to ride around drinking with the bike gang.


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