Wray examines how cycling has organized itself across this country and internationally through the grassroots efforts of various people. From the national efforts led by U.S. Representative Jim Oberstar and leaders throughout the bicycling advocacy movement, to colorful personalities like “Biker Mama” Jane Healy, to cities and towns throughout America, Pedal Power shows how people and organizations have worked creatively and passionately to gain influence not only our transportation policy but also their own lifestyles. Along the way, you’ll meet a surprising array of visionaries and regular folk who’ve integrated bicycling into their lives and their communities and become inspired by the possibilities afforded us from the seat of a bicycle. (order a copy from Amazon)
DIVORCE YOUR CAR! (and live happily ever after) by Katie Alvord. 2000. New Society Publishers. 320 pp., 6″x9″, 30 cartoons.
Our romance with cars, begun with enthusiasm more than 100 years ago, has, in fact, become a very troubled entanglement. Today’s relationship with the automobile inflicts upon us pollution, noise, congestion, sprawl, big expenses, injury, and even death. Yet we continue to live with cars at a growing cost to ourselves and the environment.
What can people do about this souring affair? Divorce your car! Re-meet your feet, board a bike, take a train, pull out of this dysfunctional relationship with the automobile! Divorcing your car can take many forms, from simply using it less to not owning one at all. This practical guide shows how divorcing a car can be fun, healthy, money-saving, and helpful to the planet in the process.
Most other transportation reform books emphasize long-range political and economic policy. Divorce Your Car! speaks less about policy and more about real actions that individuals can take now to reduce their car-dependence. It encourages readers to change their own driving behavior without waiting for broader social change, stressing that individual action can drive social change.
Car-dependency is a serious problem, but Divorce Your Car! is leavened with love-affair and self-help analogies in the text as well as cartoon illustrations. From commuters crazed by congestion and soccer moms sick of chauffeuring, to environmentalists looking for auto alternativesóDivorce Your Car! provides all the reasons not to drive and the many alternative ways we can all get around without our cars. (Order a copy from Amazon)
SUBURBAN NATION: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream by Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck. 2000. North Point Press. 256 pp. Illustrated.
The publisher says: “There is a growing movement in North America to put an end to suburban sprawl and to replace the automobile-based settlement patterns of the past fifty years with a return to more traditional planning principles. This movement stems not only from the realization that sprawl is ecologically and economically unsustainable but also from a growing awareness of sprawl’s many victims: children, utterly dependent on parental transportation if they wish to escape the cul-de-sac; the elderly, warehoused in institutions once they lose their driver’s licenses; the middle class, stuck in traffic for two or more hours each day. Founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism, Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk are at the forefront of this movement, and in Suburban Nation they assess sprawl’s costs to society, be they ecological, economic, aesthetic, or social. It is a lively, thorough, critical lament, and an entertaining lesson on the distinctions between postwar suburbia-characterized by housing clusters, strip shopping centers, office parks, and parking lots-and the traditional neighborhoods that were built as a matter of course until mid-century. It is an indictment of the entire development community, including governments, for the fact that America no longer builds towns. Most important, though, it is that rare book that also offers solutions. ” (Order a copy from Amazon)
Chris Symank, Austin Cycling News, Feb. 1999: The Age of the Bicycle is an unusual treasure Like a good Douglas Adams book (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, for example), The Age of the Bicycle is great at having fun critiquing humanity in fun, adventuristic, and inventive ways. Set in Tinny Waters, Texas, a fictional town reminiscent of Austin (Texas), The Age of the Bicycle explores what happens when all the cars on the planet suddenly cease working Imagining a world where returning to bicycles is the main resource for keeping the world going may give you a whole new perspective on the Y2K issue. Would society fall to its knees, or would lots of great things start happening? Would Pollution drop, people become more healthy, and the wilderness get a chance to recover? Might there be tea shops where the interstate once was a giant, slow-moving parking lot? (Chris Symmank, Austin Cycling News, February 1999) (order a copy from Amazon.com)
Robert J. Bryant, Recumbent Cyclist News, May/June 1999: This book is weird and wonderful – a real hoot.
Editor, The Texas Writer, May 1999: The whole thing comes off as a cross between Voltaire and Douglas Adams, with a liberal ladling of A Thousand and One Nights.
About the Author: “Miriam Webster” is the pseudonym of Amy Babich, mathematician, classicist, and advocate of human-powered transportation. She lives in Austin, Texas, where she rows on the river, swims year-round, bicycles everywhere, and would never dream of driving a car. Her first novel was After Math, a humorous tale of intrigue and murder in the Department of Mathematics at a large southwestern university.
Ignore the academic title, and you’ll find a useful, well-written, and well-illustrated book packed with the latest thinking on land use management, written in non-condescending, but easy to understand terms and punctuated with anecdotes from the author’s 30-year career as an environmental scientist, investigator, and a professional planner. Yet, it is also a rare thing – a reference book accessible to the average citizen, that is likely to spark new ways of thinking for professional planners and civil engineers.” – Ed Hunt, Editor, Tidepool Books
Professional Planner and Environmental Scientist, William B Honachefsky, has written an innovative book on land use planning which is being used in sixteen countries, many universities, municipalities worldwide, and State Planning Commissions.
Communities and citizens nationwide remain frustrated by their inability to halt the disturbing pattern of land development leapfrogging across the national landscape creating an ecologically destructive, unsustainable and aesthetically unappealing pattern of land use. The solution to this dilemma will not be found in the promulgation of more state and federal laws, rules, and regulations, but in the communities themselves and in the way they construct their Municipal Master Plans.
This book will revolutionize the way American communities plan their land use. Drawing upon more than 30 years of experience, including the investigation of thousands of cases of environmental abuse, Honachefsky presents a powerful combination of strategies that:
- Help restore the Municipal Master Plan to its rightful place of dominance over zoning;
- Incorporate 30 years of scientific research and a host of new and unique “ecological indicators” with which a community can finally assess the health of the natural resources that help sustain it;
- Apply GIS to problem-solving;
- Make preservation of the community’s “ecological infrastructure” the paramount priority of the Municipal Master Plan.
This book is about the empowerment of regular citizens and the crafting of scientifically based local land use master plans that will withstand even the most intense judicial scrutiny. No community in the United States will, henceforth, ever be able to say that they did not have the tools to stop land sprawl in its tracks. The question is, will they have the courage to bring land use planning up to the standards needed for the 21st century. [Review by the publisher]
[Order a copy around $70 – no, we don’t know why it’s that expensive, either]
FORWARD DRIVE: The Race to Build “Clean” Cars for the Future by Jim Motavalli. 2000. Sierra Club Books. 272 pp.
If ever a human invention has reached a critical moment in its history, it is the internal-combustion automobile. We are literally choking to death on our enduring love affair with the gasoline-powered car. Since 1969, the U.S. vehicle population has grown six times faster than the human population, 2.5 times faster than the number of households, and double the rate of new drivers. As Matthew L. Wald put it in the New York Times, “They bid fair to become the dominant life form.” Despite being only 5 percent of the world’s population, Americans own 34 percent of the planet’s cars and drive an estimated 2 trillion miles annually. Between 1900 and 1984, we sent more than 640 million motor vehicles to the scrap heap.
In half the world’s cities, the biggest source of air pollution is exhaust emissions. In Athens, Greece, the death rate climbs 500 percent on bad-air days. In São Paulo, Brazil, dirty air and clogged streets have forced officials to set up a rotation system for drivers that keep one-fifth of the city’s cars off the road at any given time. Cars are also a huge problem in Tel Aviv, Israel, where smog is predicted to reach Mexico City levels (the worst in the world, with ozone levels three times safe limits) by 2010; already, it has led to outbreaks of asthma and bronchitis in the city and in nearby Jerusalem. In Prague, Czech Republic, smog occasionally forces the police to set up roadblocks and keep all but essential traffic out of the city center.
Environmentalists don’t love cars, and they shouldn’t. These “insolent chariots” have had an appalling cost in their first century, and making them “clean” won’t solve all the problems they cause. If transportation is to move efficiently in the new millennium, we’ll have to combine improvements in the personal automobile with a wide array of other reforms, including moratoriums on suburban sprawl, construction of new-in-town housing, and development of an interconnected rapid-transit network.
But as America sprawls ever farther out from the city centers, where public transit works best, we’re only adding to our auto addiction. “The car will not vanish, so we must clean it up,” writes Hank Dittmar of the Surface Transportation Policy Project.
At the end of the 20th century, fuel-efficient and hydrogen-powered cars can seem like the answer to a question nobody’s asking. But the auto industry is, for once, looking ahead, and seeing not only the end of the oil era but also a global-warming crisis that won’t be easily solved without changing the way the world drives. The automakers certainly aren’t green, but their new cars represent a giant leap forward in the movement toward truly sustainable transportation.
This could be, in short, a whole new evolution of the automobile, at a time when such progress was desperately needed.Automakers are now beginning to deliver cars powered by high-efficiency hybrid drives (with both conventional internal-combustion power and electric motors) and emission-free fuel cells running on hydrogen. (read longer excerpt) * Order a copy from Amazon.com