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New ‘Bike to Books’ initiative brings bike-themed storytimes to Portland libraries

New ‘Bike to Books’ initiative brings bike-themed storytimes to Portland libraries

Bike books on display at the North Portland Library.(Photo: Josh Berezin)

Bike books on display at the North Portland Library.
(Photo: Josh Berezin)

If we want the next generation to grow up with a fresh perspective on how we get around, then storytime is a powerful place to start. As a bike geek and dad of three I’m always on the lookout for fun children’s books that show cycling in a positive and fun light, so I was thrilled to hear about the City of Portland’s new “Bike to Books” initiative.

It’s a super-smart way to encourage more neighborhood biking and reading among kids.

Bike to Books is part of PDX Bike Month. Also in on the deal is Multnomah Country Library and Metro.

Here’s what they’ve put together: Everyone who bikes to the library will get a free bike light courtesy of Metro; PBOT’s marketing team will give out free bike maps and share family biking info; and the libraries will offer 18 bike-themed storytime sessions at branches throughout the city.





The program kicked off this morning at the Holgate Library in southeast Portland with photo-ops and even storytimes with special guests like Commissioner Steve Novick, PBOT Director Leah Treat, Metro Councilor Bob Stacey, Multnomah County Commissioner Judy Shiprack, and County Library Director Vailey Oehlkeand. A statement released by PBOT after the event said, “Books and bikes are two pillars of Portland culture.”

Besides riding to school with kids, riding to our local library is the most common family ride we do in the Maus family. Map out the route to your local branch and give it a try! If you need some recommendations for good bike books, check out a list we shared a few years ago (our family favorites are Duck on a Bike, Supergrandpa, and Bear on a Bike).

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Portland’s former urban bike farmer releases new book

Portland’s former urban bike farmer releases new book

cover-without-back

If you’ve lived in Portland long enough you’ve probably caught site of someone on a bike hauling yard and home improvement tools around. We have organizations that plant trees by bike, businesses that do landscaping and carpentry by bike, and we even have farmers who’ve replaced the iconic work-truck with a work-bike.

One of those farmers, Kollibri terre Sonnenblume, has now written a book about it. Adventures in Urban Bike Farming from Macska Moksha Press is what Sonnenblume calls, “Equal parts historical document, confessional memoir and social critique.”

Don’t let the title of the book fool you, based on an excerpt made available by the publisher Sonnenblume has just as many insights to share about Portland’s cultural upheaval in the past decade as he does about how to increase potato yields. “If you’re looking for a message of ‘rah rah, look how sustainable we are!’,” he says, “you won’t find it here.”

Sonnenblume moved to Portland in 2001 as an activist drawn to our town’s indy vibe, affordable housing, and reputation as “Little Beirut.” It was several years later that he found his place as an urban farmer. By the time he started Sunroot Gardens in 2007, Sonnenblume had already seen Portland change dramatically. But even so, his community supported agriculture business thrived. At its peak he and his crew cultivated 50 plots across three acres of urban land that provided food for over 24 households.


Sonnenblume and his bike were the toast of the local media — even as their coverage was a hint of what was to come: Portland Monthly magazine called him an “ecofreak” and “slightly insane.”

Then things started to change. In a very familiar story to those following Portland’s urban evolution. Here’s how Sonnenblume describes it in his introduction:

“The Portland that emerged next was “Portlandia,” a caricature of itself, a destination no longer for scrappy activists—or starving artist, their sometimes partners-in-crime—but for the app-driven digerati, with their oh-so-refined tastes and non-confrontational blue-state politics. Rents skyrocketed, hipsters pushed out hippies, and by 2015, Portland was the most quickly gentrifying city in the U.S.A. In short, no longer a hospitable place for unconventional experiments.”

Sonnenblume shut down Sunroot Gardens in 2010. By that time, he writes, “Urban farming as a meme had lost its luster and the practice itself had been relegated to the role of one more quirky thing that existed to ‘keep Portland weird.’”

Beyond the social critiques the book should serve as a great resource for anyone interested in urban, collective agriculture and its role in cities.

The book is available in paperback from Amazon or as a digital download (featuring 100 color photos) from Macska Moksha Press.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


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Elly Blue Publishing merges with Microcosm

Elly Blue Publishing merges with Microcosm

Elly Blue

Elly Blue, on the job in 2013.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

One of the power couples of Portland biking has decided to formally join forces professionally, too.

Elly Blue, creator of the Taking the Lane zine about feminism and biking and the author or publisher of several other bike-themed books, announced this week that she’s merged her living-room operation Elly Blue Publishing with Microcosm Publishing, the Portland-based independent publisher founded and managed for years by her partner Joe Biel.

Microcosm, long one of the country’s largest zine distributors, has a staff of 11 and a storefront on North Williams Avenue that’s stocked with lots of great bike-related titles. Among them: Blue’s two books, Everyday Bicycling and Bikenomics, both published by Microcosm. (Bikenomics, Blue notes happily, was Microcosm’s top-grossing title of 2014.)

Biel is also the creator of Aftermass, a documentary film produced by Microcosm about the modern history of bicycle activism in Portland.

ebplogos

Elly Blue Publishing logo (left) and Microcosm logo.

Blue, who worked as a writer and editor here at BikePortland from 2006 to 2011, will become a part-owner and marketing director of Microcosm. She wrote in an email that she’ll also “continue to publish and fully manage my line of feminist bike books (including how-to books, children’s books, and of course science fiction).”

2014 Disaster Relief Trials-86

Microcosm Publishing founder Joe Biel
in 2014.

Here’s Blue’s take on her role in the future of Microcosm:

Microcosm has been putting out bicycle-related stuff since way before it was cool (case in point: the company’s chainwheel heart logo, and Joe’s iconic Evolution and Put the Fun Between Your Legs designs). Obviously, bikes are going to grow as a focus now that I’m bringing my authors and networks to the table. Bikes are the future and Portland’s right in the middle of it.

The merger makes a ton of sense — half the world already thinks that Joe and I are part of the same operation, and we’ve been sharing ideas, energy, and practical efforts since we started dating six years ago, leading to a lot of similarities and connections in our brands, our designs, and how we do business. Now that we’ll be officially working together, the benefits to everyone are already becoming clear.

The merged operation has a 200-title catalog. One of Blue’s continuing projects will be the next incarnation of Taking the Lane: an annual Journal of Bicycle Feminism.

Blue and Biel are two bright lights in Portland’s amazing constellation of biking thinkers, makers and artists. We’ll be eager to see what their joined business operation comes up with next.

Sunday Parkways SE-9-8

Blue (riding) and Biel working on a film project in August 2011.

The post Elly Blue Publishing merges with Microcosm appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Elly Blue Publishing merges with Microcosm

Elly Blue Publishing merges with Microcosm

Elly Blue

Elly Blue, on the job in 2013.
(Photos: J.Maus/BikePortland)

One of the power couples of Portland biking has decided to formally join forces professionally, too.

Elly Blue, creator of the Taking the Lane zine about feminism and biking and the author or publisher of several other bike-themed books, announced this week that she’s merged her living-room operation Elly Blue Publishing with Microcosm Publishing, the Portland-based independent publisher founded and managed for years by her partner Joe Biel.

Microcosm, in its 19th year of business, has a staff of 11 and a storefront on North Williams Avenue that’s stocked with lots of great bike-related titles. Among them: Blue’s two books, Everyday Bicycling and Bikenomics, both published by Microcosm. (Bikenomics, Blue notes happily, was Microcosm’s top-grossing title of 2014.)

Biel is also the creator of Aftermass, a documentary film produced by Microcosm about the modern history of bicycle activism in Portland.

ebplogos

Elly Blue Publishing logo (left) and Microcosm logo.

Blue, who worked as a writer and editor here at BikePortland from 2006 to 2011, will become a part-owner and marketing director of Microcosm. She wrote in an email that she’ll also “continue to publish and fully manage my line of feminist bike books (including how-to books, children’s books, and of course science fiction).”

2014 Disaster Relief Trials-86

Microcosm Publishing founder Joe Biel
in 2014.

Here’s Blue’s take on her role in the future of Microcosm:

Microcosm has been putting out bicycle-related stuff since way before it was cool (case in point: the company’s chainwheel heart logo, and Joe’s iconic Evolution and Put the Fun Between Your Legs designs). Obviously, bikes are going to grow as a focus now that I’m bringing my authors and networks to the table. Bikes are the future and Portland’s right in the middle of it.

The merger makes a ton of sense — half the world already thinks that Joe and I are part of the same operation, and we’ve been sharing ideas, energy, and practical efforts since we started dating six years ago, leading to a lot of similarities and connections in our brands, our designs, and how we do business. Now that we’ll be officially working together, the benefits to everyone are already becoming clear.

The merged operation has a 975-title catalog. One of Blue’s continuing projects will be the next incarnation of Taking the Lane: an annual Journal of Bicycle Feminism.

Blue and Biel are two bright lights in Portland’s amazing constellation of biking thinkers, makers and artists. We’ll be eager to see what their joined business operation comes up with next.

Sunday Parkways SE-9-8

Blue (riding) and Biel working on a film project in August 2011.

The post Elly Blue Publishing merges with Microcosm appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Portland’s pedal-powered street library blooms into a beloved institution

Portland’s pedal-powered street library blooms into a beloved institution

talking to J with paper

Street Books founder Laura Maulton talks last week with patrons Jonathan and Bam.

After four summers loaded with all the paperbacks you can fit on a cargo trike, Portland’s most public library is rolling merrily forward.

Street Books, created in 2011 by Laura Moulton as a one-time art project, wasn’t conceived as a continuing service. But its immediate popularity among Portlanders who live outside made Moulton realize it was an idea with wheels.

“This year everybody has been reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I think because he just died,” said Diana Rempe, one of Moulton’s two part-time co-librarians, in an interview last week. “I just cannot keep him in there.”

A short documentary about Street Books. Filmmaker Rachel Bracker is aiming to create a longer film.

Last week Street Books celebrated its fourth summer of operation at a fundraiser and party, where it released the video above.

“I’ve been coming here for over three years,” said a young man who gave his name only as Jonathan, after chatting with Rempe and Moulton about the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick near Skidmore Fountain last Tuesday.

“His self-proclaimed masterpiece is A Scanner Darkly,” Jonathan told Rempe. “It’s a lot more nuanced than the film version.”

Thanks to its mobility, the Street Books trike visits a rotating series of sites three days a week during the summer: Old Town’s Right to Dream Too settlement, Skidmore Fountain and waterfront on Tuesdays; the central eastside’s Martin Luther King worker center and St. Francis Parish on Wednesdays; and Sisters of the Road, Bud Clark Commons and the North Park Blocks in the south Pearl on Thursdays.

It wouldn’t work in a motor vehicle, Rempe said.

“I couldn’t go to the places where people are,” she said. “I can’t ride that bike a block without people waving, saying hello, yelling ‘Library lady!’”

Street Books has its own set of library cards and a simple check-out card tucked into the front cover of each book, like most libraries before the digital age:

library card

 

checkout history

The books are mostly donated, though the team sometimes visits Goodwill or other used-book sites to look for material, especially if it’s written in Spanish.

“We really need Spanish-langauge books,” Rempe said.

streetbooks is

Moulton said the idea came out of a conversation about books with a man she knew as “Quiet Joe.”

“We had an author in common that we liked,” she said. “I hadn’t thought about the fact that he might be more well-read than I am.”

That truth — that many people who live outside cherish books and reading but are rarely able to keep libraries of their own — is the heart of the Street Books mission, said Rempe.

“It’s a way to bring together communities that would generally be disparate,” she said. “We’ll be out on the waterfront and people will be jogging by and stop and talk about Street Books and then somebody who’s been living on the street will come by and grab a book, and then those people will have an opportunity to talk about the book that he or she grabbed.”

Rempe recalled a recent conversation with one of her patrons, Heather.

“She was reading The Grapes of Wrath and she was literally crying about the ending,” she said. “This other guy overheard us and he said, ‘Ah, I’ve never read that book.’ So he checked out The Grapes of Wrath, so he and Heather could talk about The Grapes of Wrath.”

book spines

Street Books is on the lookout for a Spanish-speaking volunteer to help or fill in for Rempe, who said her Spanish isn’t strong enough to have the discussions her patrons sometimes hope for.

Thanks to small grants and donations, Rempe, Moulton, their colleague Redd Moon and inventory specialist Ben Hodgson are paid by the hour for their shifts. Rempe said she’s proud to be part of the team.

“I think for a lot of people there’s an assumption that when your primary physical needs are not being met, then you have no interest in filling your other needs like intellectual stimulation, social connection — that’s simply false,” she said. “Intellectual stimulation, connection to others, engagement with the world — those are all just as primary as food and shelter and a place to go to the bathroom.”

streetbooks pedaling

If you’d like, you can support Street Books with a donation or by getting in touch to volunteer: librarian@streetbooks.org.

Correction 9/24: An earlier version of this post misspelled Moulton’s name.

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Book review: Pedal Portland by Todd Roll

Book review: Pedal Portland by Todd Roll

Book: Pedal Portland: 25 Easy Rides for Exploring the City by Bike
Author: Todd Roll
Publisher: Timber Press, 2014
Price: $16.95

Reviewed by Nicholas Von Pless

Around this time of year, I’m inviting friends from afar to enjoy the summer we yearn for after a long slog of grey and rain. But with some dry spells and surprising summery days this winter, I was able to get a preview of the rides illustrated in Pedal Portland, the new book from Todd Roll. (If Roll’s name sounds familiar that’s because he also owns and runs Pedal Bike Tours (and he also happens to be the guy who commissioned the now infamous “America’s Bicycle Capital” mural.)

In Pedal Portland, Roll outlines 25 rides that cover the entire region. From familiar bikeways in the central city to regional gems in Gresham, Hillsboro, and Vancouver. Like the guided bike tours offered by Roll’s company, the skill level of the routes ranges from very easy to pretty easy, which is great for my out-of-town friends, and great for reinvigorating the fair-weather riders of our fine city.

Many of the rides roll down familiar paths already identified by the city as greenways, so safety is really no concern. Furthermore, you can hit many of the multi-use paths — some of which I was delighted to find, like Beaverton’s eight-mile Waterhouse Powerline Park and connecting Willow Creek Greenway, on a raised boardwalk along the banks of Willow Creek and its wetland.

Passing through some of the popular streets like Mississippi, Alberta, Dekum, and Hawthorne, I found other reasons to enjoy this guide and improvise them when I lead others. Because the book is careful not to mention specific businesses (that run the risk of closing before press time), I noted bike-friendly and local businesses to visit, like North Portland Bike Works, Woodlawn Café, Breakside Brewing, Stormbreaker Brewing, and Moberi — a bike-powered smoothie cart.

Along the Willow Creek Greenway in Beaverton.
(Photo by Nicholas Von Pless)

For families and beginners, Pedal Portland allows the rider to acclimate and explore with general ease and safety, as each chapter infuses neighborhood trivia, and provides a fun scavenger hunt that one can only solve at 10 miles per hour. The book also offers an entire chapter of how-tos and riding tips to help you pedal like a local. There’s even a brief history lesson that will give you a deeper understanding of how Portland’s bike network came to be.

For those unfamiliar with certain areas (as I was in Beaverton), the cue sheets can be exhaustive and I found myself checking the book against my phone’s GPS, and still was marooned in dead-end business parks. Mr. Roll acknowledged the difficulty, and was pursuing perforated cue sheets or a GPS-assisted smartphone app. Still, the presence of way-finding signs along many of the rides provides added confidence to the journey.

With Pedal Portland, Roll has created more than just a collection of routes. The illustrations, maps, healthy serving of historical insights, and high-quality production value make this something worth adding to your library. And the best part? This book will inspire even more people — both locals and visitors — to enjoy the simple pleasures of a bicycle ride.

— Learn more and purchase the book online at TimberPress.com. You’re also invited to a launch party tomorrow (Thursday, 5/15) at 5:30 pm at Pedal Bike Tours 133 SW 2nd Ave).

Book Review: Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-Day Rides in Washington

Book Review: Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-Day Rides in Washington

Cover of Cycle Sojourner: Washington

Publisher’s note: Two years ago we took a look at Portland author Ellee Thalheimer’s first Cycling Sojourner guidebook that covered the best rides in Oregon. Now she’s back with a Washington edition that’s due out next month. BikePortland contributor Nicholas Von Pless received an advanced copy and shares his review below. — Jonathan

Around this time last year, I had just a couple longer distance rides under my belt: there was a two-day jaunt from Portland to Eugene (the first and last trip done without cycling shorts), and a few all-day rides within 30 miles of the city. But I wanted to get out and explore more. Fortunately, I had Ellee Thalheimer’s Cycling Sojourner, a companion for cycling through all of Oregon’s celebrated lands – from the treasured Painted Hills to the rolling vineyards of McMinnville. With Thalheimer’s expert guidance, I was turned on to some of the greatest adventures to be had on two wheels.

So on the cusp of another beautiful summer’s riding season, it was a no-brainer to again look to Ellee for guidance. And she delivers in her second installment, Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-Day Tours in Washington.

Through Ellee’s conversational tone, riders of all skill levels are invited to explore Washington’s renowned landmarks and varied scenery, often via use of a statewide network of rails-to-trails pathways. There is also an emphasis on enjoying the friendly charm of many of the towns that support cycle tourism throughout the state, including well-researched tips and tricks to make your journey as fun as possible.

The nine rides featured in Cycling Sojourner span between 2-6 days, provide recommendations on dining and lodging to fit any rider’s budget, and offer options for riding throughout the year. Based on my previous rides, Ellee’s recommendations for dining and lodging are spot-on. She gives preference to proprietors that are friendly towards people who arrive by bike, or that offer something a little off-kilter and cater to riders looking for gluten-free, organic, or vegan options.

Thalheimer kickstarts this edition with a Taste of Touring, starting right in Seattle’s center, hugging Lake Washington to Bothell, meandering through Redmond and Carnation before linking up with trails all the way back in about 78 miles. Even for the adventurous beginner, the rides are split in two segments, making for an easy one-day stint. From there, Ellee provides other options: even on the Epic Washington Ride (250 miles, with a difficulty rating of 7/10, and massive climbs), the beginner can ride as little as 23 miles in a day and still get huge rewards like high alpine crystal lakes that look like a scene from the mountains of Central America.

However, intermediate and experienced riders can also choose from a number of trips, including: island-hopping in the San Juans; mountain scaling in the Olympic Peninsula; and roller-coasting wheat fields, hop farms, and vineyards in eastern Washington. The geographic variety gives you year-round escapes even when it’s pouring along the I-5 corridor.

One of Thalheimer’s greater contributions as a knowledgeable tour guide is her attention to the regional culture. Each chapter contains a unique history, including an 11-year war; its only casualty a pig. We’re also educated about the past advocacy and ongoing efforts to preserve these wild and scenic areas for future recreationists. In addition to the dining and lodging recommendations, the book also highlights art galleries, bike shops, museums, swimming holes, and other points of interest to make your journey complete: getting you off the saddle and enjoying a holistic experience of these destinations.

Cycling Sojourner provides comprehensive logistics while cramming in insightful tips, and teases tantalizing temptations like descents that make your eyes water, snow-capped mountains with clear lakes, sightings of whales, bald eagles, and cougars, serenely quiet valleys, and miles upon miles to connect yourself to the environment and communities that await you.

— Ellee’s new book can be pre-ordered for $18.95 at CyclingSojourner.com.

With Hawaii expansion and a new book, bike-tour entrepreneur Todd Roll is on the move

With Hawaii expansion and a new book, bike-tour entrepreneur Todd Roll is on the move

Todd Roll in February with his fleet of tour bikes.
(Photos courtesy Pedal Bike Tours.)

Todd Roll of downtown-based Pedal Bike Tours has had a big spring.

Last month, his company — maybe best known to Portlanders as the one behind downtown’s “America’s Bicycle Capital” mural — expanded to Honolulu. And next month, his first book is coming out from Timber Press: Pedal Portland, a compilation of 25 easy city bike rides informed by his company’s experience renting out bikes and leading local tours.

Roll launched his business five years ago “with four bikes in the back of his brother’s bike shop,” company spokeswoman (and Roll’s wife) Lota LaMontagne wrote in an email. Now it’s got “11 seasonal and six year-round employees, as well as a fleet of 100 bikes in the downtown shop.”

Each ride includes a scavenger hunt.
(Image courtesy Timber Press)

I first heard about Pedal Bike Tours’ expansion in late February, when I stopped by their downtown shop to talk about Portland’s boom in car-lite tourism. With both the new shop, called Pedal Hawaii for short, and the new book, Roll and his team are looking to spread some of that happy idea to visitors from around the country.

Pedal Portland, a 224-page paperback that will retail for $16.95, includes rides in all five Portland quadrants plus Beaverton, Vancouver and other nearby areas. The rides range from eight to 12 miles, with optional public transit legs to shorten the trips. Each route description includes a scavenger hunt that can be completed along the way, plus tips on good places to eat, drink or relax.

We’ve got an advance copy of the book and hope to share a full review soon.

As for the Hawaii shop, LaMontagne writes it’s “hoping to bring a bit of Portland’s two-wheeled culture to the island’s own burgeoning bike culture, and more importantly, to some of the 4.5 million annual visitors to this island.”

In addition to bike rentals by the hour, day and week, Pedal Hawaii will offer two family-friendly tours, the nine-mile “Hidden Honolulu” for $69, which currently runs twice a day, and the 13-mile “Explore the North Shore” for $129 including “grinds” (lunch) and a support van.

Pedal Hawaii general manager Sam Haffner and Roll, opening the new shop.

The new shop is on the ground level of the Queen Kapiolani Hotel in Waikiki, at 150 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815.

“Considering Honolulu has the 12th highest bicycle commuter rate and the 2nd worst traffic in the country, the island is primed for what we’re doing,” Roll said in a news release.

Radically sensible: 8 questions for Elly Blue, Portland’s pop bikenomist

Radically sensible: 8 questions for Elly Blue, Portland’s pop bikenomist

Cover of Bikenomics

As she writes in her new book Bikenomics, Portland-based bike writer Elly Blue backed into bike activism in her mid-20s, when she realized that bikes advanced so many of her other wishes for the country.

Almost a decade later, Blue has organized years of observations about the economic benefits of biking into a 194-page book of deeply rational arguments that’s poised to make a splash. It’s studded with stories from her reporting around the United States and anecdotes from her own life and work. Yesterday I talked to Blue, 35 (founder of Elly Blue Publishing, a columnist for Bicycling.com, self-publisher of the quarterly zine Taking the Lane and a former managing editor here at BikePortland), in an email conversation about the country’s most underrated biking city, one of her frustrations with this very blog, and that one time she finally learned to drive.

You’re the queen of bike statistics. Pick your favorite.
There’s this stat floating around that the average amount people spend on their bikes each year is $302. The source paper is actually a survey of self-identified bike commuters published in 1997 — who identify as mostly white, professional men, average age of 39 — a nonrepresentative sample if I ever saw one. They actually say they spent an average of $302 on new bikes alone each year. When they add up gear and maintenance, they spent more like $700 or $800. Transportation economist Todd Litman does a much better analysis, looking at the actual cost of bikes and maintenance each year — this is much more similar to the costs of driving analysis that AAA does — and the funny thing is he comes up with about $300 a year as the “true” cost of biking. So the wrong statistic is actually closer to reality. Actually, as I learned writing this book, statistics are really more of an art form than a science and any truth they represent is a function of this.

Elly Blue

Elly Blue in 2011.
(Photo: Michael Andersen)

One of my favorite passages in the book is a description of your learning to drive, at age 27. First of all, what on earth convinced you to do this? Second, what did you discover?
What can I say, people have done way sillier things in order to bond with their boyfriends. The thing that surprised me most was that driving and even parking in downtown Portland was the easiest for me — it’s chaotic, but everything happens at bike speed. Urban freeways and rural roads were the worst — you’re supposed to go really fast but there’s too much going on to really process. I’m sure like anything else it gets easier the more you do it, but I wasn’t willing to put in the hours. Anyway, there’s no need. When you have a car available, you come up with reasons to use it, but those tend to disappear along with the car.

Most people who would read a book about bikes already like them, and for fairly uncomplicated reasons. Why load our brains up with complicated arguments, too?
I cry foul on this question — have you been on the Internet lately? People love to make bicycling as complicated as possible. Most of us can’t just go for a ride, we have to get all worked up about the right things to wear and how to signal our turns and helmets and what kind of infrastructure and are bike share bikes dorky … I love it all. I have opinions on some of it, which I share in the book — there should be something in there to rile up everyone — but like most of the book’s core readership, I really do thrive on the debate.

That said, the powers that be have informed me that this book is being set up to be widely read by people whose relationship with bicycling is far more casual. I’m especially glad about this, because they’ll likely have totally new and exciting ideas to bring to the table.

Have you ever shared your key “bikenomics” arguments with people from bike-friendly countries? Do they tend to respond differently than Americans?
Not much. People from super-bikey countries often seem to only want to talk about how effed the U.S. is, which is not productive and kind of boring. I decided early on that this was a book about the U.S., our history, and our potential.

Your work takes you on the road a lot. What’s the most underrated biking city in the country?
It’s hard to pick just one. A lot of cities are really changing the game with bike share and big investments in new off- and on-street networks. DC is an example of a city that’s done all three and is winning big. In 2009, I thought it was the worst city I’d ever biked in (that was before I went to Vegas), and now it’s really fun and relaxing. You can tell when a city is having a moment, when a ton of people are biking, and progress is being made but not quickly enough, so everyone’s engaged and there’s this amazing energy. Seattle seems to be having that right now, and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and both Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.

I was surprised at how many Portland stories are in this book. When people from other cities tell you Portland is different and your ideas don’t apply elsewhere, how do you respond?
I ask for specifics, and they point out our weather, our topography, and our culture. Then I point out Seattle’s hills, Minneapolis’s winters, and… well, nearly every emerging bike-friendly city seems to be larger than Portland.

“If you’re creating an elite club that only can only really function in certain neighborhoods, what’s the point?”
— Elly Blue, author

You talk about race and class more than some bicycle advocates. Should more of us do so? Why?
It just kills me to hear people say — including on this blog, sorry guys — that bicycling is a civil rights issue, and in the same breath say that equitable access to bicycling isn’t an important issue*. It’s the only important issue. If you’re creating an elite club that only can only really function in certain neighborhoods, what’s the point? The thesis of Bikenomics is that access to bicycling — which means a lot of things — can transform the economy, your health, your safety, your community, your happiness. Why limit that access? Why limit who is involved in advocacy, who is reached out to and represented, who the movement is led by?

A lot of mainstream bike advocates in the last several decades have come out of the sports and recreational sides of cycling. Not everyone who is into that is relatively well off or white or male, but that’s the statistical tendency. And this comes with some major blind spots that are uncomfortable to have brought to light. Anne Lusk’s recent study finding that predominately male traffic engineers are less likely to consider the needs of slower transportation cyclists is a great example. So there’s this history of privileged assumptions — but that history is proving easy to get over. Which is good because this stuff is urgent, we all need it yesterday.

You also do web columns and a quarterly zine. What can print do that pixels can’t? What can a book do that periodicals can’t?
They can all do amazing things, but contrary to certain popular media narratives, old-fashioned mass-produced printed books are easiest to sell a lot of so they can get out there and change the world. Don’t worry, though: Bikenomics will also be an e-book.

Bikenomics will be available December 1st 2013 from “most any bookstore,” and can be ordered in advance at bikenomics.net.

*Note from the publisher: This site does not believe “bicycling is a civil rights issue” and that “equitable access to bicycling isn’t an important issue.”

Three local bike books to nab (and one to await)

Three local bike books to nab (and one to await)

bike books!

Portland is rich with locally written bike books.
(Photo by J.Maus/BikePortland)

Portland has been exporting its biking expertise for years, but the explosion of independent publishing is helping that happen faster than ever.

Case in point: Four new books by young local authors, all currently in development, poised to document and spread local bike wisdom around the city, the region and the country. One’s about moving by bike, one’s about bike touring, one’s about bike-inspired cooking and one is a popular-audience introduction to the role bikes can play in economic growth.

With the days getting shorter and book season approaching, here’s a cheat sheet on a few projects in the works, and how to get ahold of them.

Moving by Bike: The Book
Stephanie Routh, $15 during current Kickstarter campaign

The Oregon Walks executive director (and potential world record holder for participating in the most bike moves and for leading the biggest) edits 23 contributors who share their relocationary wisdom in about 80 pages.

The Culinary Cyclist: A Cookbook and Companion for the Good Life
Anna Brones, $9.95 from Elly Blue publishing

This cookbook is bike-related mostly in that it uses bikes as an icon of simplicity and self-reliance. Brones, “a Swedish Portlander currently living in Paris,” has created a “guide to hedonistic two-wheeled living. Recipes are all gluten free and mostly vegan and include such decadent basics as Sea Salt Chocolate Cake and baked eggs in avocado halves (it may just be the perfect breakfast) are paired with cheerful instructions for gracefully hosting a dinner party, gifting food, bulk shopping by bicycle, and two-wheeled picnics.”

It’s text-rich and tastefully hand-illustrated by Johanna Kindvall.

Cycling Sojourner: A Guide to the Best Multi-day Tours in WA
Ellee Thalheimer, $25 during current Kickstarter campaign

In a follow-up to her 2012 guidebook on the best Oregon bike touring, Portland-based Ellee Thalheimer teams up with the Bicycle Alliance of Washington to explore the 10 best multi-day trips up north. If it’s modeled on her last, expect a volume that’s thick, sturdy, beautiful, meticulous and sized for your handlebar bag.

Bikenomics: How Bicycling Will Save the Economy (If We Let It)
Elly Blue, coming Dec. 1 from Microcosm Publishing

Blue, a Portland-based freelance writer, speaker and publisher, expands her 2011 zine about bikes as a tool for prosperity into a full-length book.

Blue’s research began as a gloriously link-rich series of columns for Grist Magazine, and she’s spent the years since strengthening her nationwide network of stories, sources and statistics. What I’m saying is: prepare to be persuaded.

In somewhat related news, Joe Biel (who happens to be Blue’s partner) has completed his four-years-in-the-making documentary Aftermass, about the history of bike activism in Portland after Critical Mass lost steam a few years ago. Biel is preparing to show it at film festivals this fall.

Portland’s bikespertise is everywhere, and it ought to be.