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The Bohemian Guide to Urban Cycling

urban_cycling_cover-2 The Bohemian Guide to Urban Cycling (November 5, 2014)

Cycling as a way of life and mode of transportation is on the rise in city after city around the world. For those looking to dip their proverbial toes into the waters of urban cycling the prospect at times can be rather intimidating. What kind of bike should I ride? A skinny-wheeled high-end road bike? A fixie? A chunky city commuter bike? A department store bike? How about fashion? Do I have to wear brightly colored skin-tight Lycra outfits? Can I just wear normal clothes? How do I lug my gear around?

The Bohemian Guide to Urban Cycling takes the reader into the world and workings of cycling in the city to uncover the essentials to how to join in on the cycling revolution. Your bicycling guide on this journey is a card-carrying bohemian living in Portland. By using the bike-crazy city of Portland as the backdrop, this book covers all of the basics needed to bike comfortably in the city and to know what the heck you’re talking about ... from bike selection to fashion to bike lanes to gentrification and more. After reading this you’ll know precisely what to ride, how to ride, what to wear, and how to talk like an insider. Well, maybe not, but it’ll still be a fun journey together.

But this book is more than about urban-cycling fashion and high-end bikes. It also plunges headlong into conversations about mobility, equity, race, and justice. If there is going to be a book about all-things cycling in the city it must delve into these uncomfortable topics in order to develop a more holistic view of urban cycling. The bottom line must be to affirm all kinds of people pedaling through the streets of our cities on anything that rolls.



“A fun and easy read, The Bohemian Guide to Urban Cycling is an insightful personal look into Portland's cycling culture.” -- Mia Kohout, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, Momentum Mag "smart living by bike"

“This book both celebrates Portland's unique, eclectic culture while offering deeper insight into the formation of this bohemian cycling culture.  A thoroughly enjoyable and knowledgeable read!” -- Jude Gerace, Sugar Wheel Works

"The Bohemian Guide to Urban Cycling documents the rise of the humble bicycle, from the counterculture into the mainstream, and the implications that has on the way we design and experience North American cities. Dr. Benesh truly understands the challenge of normalizing cycling for transportation, explaining that it's no longer about recruiting 'cyclists,' but rather getting regular 'people on bikes,' using lifestyle marketing techniques perfected by the automobile industry. A concise, informative, and entertaining read." -- Chris Bruntlett, Modacity Founder, Bicycle Urbanist

“I live in Long Beach, CA. On the exterior wall of our city hall, there is a written declaration, which states that Long Beach is “the most bike friendly city in America.” While this may not yet be a reality, it’s got its sights on Portland’s crown, the laboratory setting for this book. Sean’s passion for the people and places of his city fuels him to dive into one of the best ways to move in a city: urban cycling. As an ethnic bohemian, coffee loving, single-speed riding, and all around urba-nerd, he explores bicycling tribes with the embedded curiosity of a cultural anthropologist. If you want to embark on a life-long ride as a bohemian urban cyclist, this book is a great place to start.” -- Steven A. Chaparro, Visioneering Studios

“For a bicycling enthusiast, Portland is a special place - a pioneer not only in creating an extensive cycling infrastructure, but also in generating a supportive ‘bohemian’ counter-culture with cycling at its center. Sean Benesh’s new book deftly introduces the reader into the nooks and crannies of this culture. However, Benesh is more than an afficionado for all things Portlandia, he is also a keen observer of the shadow side of 21st century American urban life––particularly the twin forces of gentrification and racial inequity that trouble Portland as well as other cities. In the end, his book is a guide not for hipster-wannabes, but rather for those whose imagination is fired by a passion for justice, and who can envision bicycling as a way to bring such justice into being.” -- Mark VanderSchaaf, PhD, City and Regional Planner, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, MN

"If the city we now know as Portland were destroyed in a catastrophe and its inhabitants scattered across the earth, I hope the exiles would spread their values and lifestyle to so many people that one day the world would forget the origin of the word 'Portlander' and instead know only that it refers to people everywhere who value joy above speed, discovery above wealth and reasonably priced beers above razors. And if that ever happened, and if historians were later trying to piece together what it was like to be a real Portlander, I would recommend that those historians read this book." -- Michael Andersen, People for Bikes Staff Writer

“A concise and entertaining discourse on what it means to be an urban cyclist today.  Sean provides a needed gloss on why bikes really matter to cities of the 21st century.” -- Charles R. Wolfe, Author, Urbanism Without Effort, Seattle Land Use and Environmental Attorney


Chapter Outline:

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody
  2. Mobility and Transportation
  3. The Changing Landscape of Urban Cycling
  4. The Economic Benefits of Bicycle Facilities
  5. Steeds of Choice and Those Who Ride Them
  6. Redux
  7. Urban Cycling Fashion and Lugging Gear
  8. Rules of Engagement
  9. Putting Urban Into Urban Cycling
  10. Gentrify This!
  11. Bicycles as Vehicles of Empowerment or Exclusion
  12. Perspective