Friday, September 30, 2016

A Letter To David Byrne

I read four bicycle books this summer, Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne; The Story of the Giro d'Italia, Volume I, by Bill and Carol McGann; The Rider by Tim Krabbe, and Gironimo! by Tim Moore. The Rider was a speed read like a bike race full of energy. The McGann's Story of the Giro is glorious. Gironimo was a slog, perhaps retracing the very terrible 1914 Tour de Italia put the author in a bad mood.

I just finished reading Byrne's book Bicycle Diaries this morning. Wonderful, insightful, progressive, intelligent, you captured the beauty of a bicycle in everyday living/traveling. Your description of Berlin was fantastic, I loved the pictures of the art exhibits. Byrne's night riding was like another beautiful dimension, the bicycle is taking us to a place I had never been before. Well done.

I also am in my mid 50s. I recently I did an experiment, I quit driving a car for about three years and rode my bicycle only. Since I work from home, this was fairly easy, I could ride to the store, the bar, the coffee shop, the park, concerts, downtown, etc, but I struggled to make it to short-notice, long-distance-away events, so I finally broke down and bought a car last spring.

I had the opportunity to ride a bike through New York City in March, it was wonderful, I road all over Central Park, along the Hudson River, Midtown and Harlem. Two weeks ago, I returned from a bike trip through Cape Cod, a buddy and I rode from Falmouth to Provincetown. We also rode bikes on Nantucket. The environment seems to be winning on Nantucket, as I saw no street lights, no stop lights, no billboards and no chain restaurants. My friend who is a landscaper there says use of chemicals is highly restricted (good!). When leaving on the ferry, I threw a penny into the harbor with the hope I will return there some day...natives say this trick works...but when we were throwing in our pennies, one lady's penny blew back onto the deck, "that is bad luck," my buddy said!

Global warming is a real threat. The bicycle could save our planet. We just need to change our entire way of thinking. Out here in Kansas, too many people are still stuck in automobile land, partly because of our long distances from one another. I like Penalosa's thoughts in your book, let us make the community friendly to children first, if kids are safe and comfortable, we have a community, let us build our community from there. We have created new "pocket parks" in downtown Topeka, we have new bike trails and new bike lanes, we have a progressive Community Cycle Project that helps rebuild bikes for people in need of a bike; and the city has a bicycle department with 200 bicycles for rent, located in various parts of the city. And artists have created a new art district in an old part of town, called NOTO, which is very bike friendly. So we are making progress, but still have a long way to go. My hope is that our community will become transformed by cyclists, we have a few cyclists in leadership positions, they are really trying to make a difference.

If you ever are in Topeka, Kan., please look me up. We could go for a bike ride!

Thank you for writing a good book! I enjoyed it.

Take care and happy cycling!

Michael Hooper
Topeka, Kansas