Bicycles and biking were born out of a need for transportation independent of horses and the invention provided transportation freedom to many – particular to women in the 19th and early 20th centuries – which often meant freedom beyond mere transportation. Read: How the Bicycle Paved the Way for Women’s Rights
In the modern world, access to bikes and bike infrastructure is not evenly spread among social and economic demographics, but with focus we can improve that access. Here are some books to read on the subject of biking, infrastructure, and social justice.
by Adonia E. Lugo
“Adonia Lugo’s vision of a more equitable bicycle movement and world is worth heeding. Her apt critique of racism in transportation is constructive and practical. Anyone who cares about how cities and roads work―or, for many, don’t―will gain much from her work.”
–Elly Blue, author of Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy
by Mimi Sheller
“The essential field guide to the politics of mobility from the policing of racialized bodies to the impact of movement on climate change. Sheller articulates the urgency of both understanding, and acting on, the ways we move in order to imagine and articulate a better world.”
—Tim Cresswell, author of On the Move: Mobility in the Modern Western World
by John G. Stehlin
“In a strong wake-up call to current cycling policy in North American cities, John G. Stehlin gives us the best study yet of why the bicycle is failing to meet its emancipatory potential.”
—Mimi Sheller, author of Mobility Justice: The Politics of Movement in an Age of Extremes
Edited by Elly Blue
Featuring work by Tamika Butler, Adonia Lugo, Do Jun Lee, Gretchin Lair, V.K. Henry, Lauren Hage, Tammy Melody Gomez, Phill Melton, Cat Caperello, Joe Biel, Julie Brooks, Kassandra Karaitis, Katura Reynolds, Rebecca Fish Ewan, Rhienna Renée Guedry, and Adrian Lipscombe.
Bicycling has the radical potential of equalizing our transportation system, creating more equitable opportunities from the personal to the societal, and being a vehicle for protest and social justice. But that isn’t how it always works.
by Jools Walker
“In Back in the Frame Jools talks to the other female trailblazers who are disrupting the cycling narrative as well as telling the story of how she overcame her health problems, learned how to cycle her own path and even found a love of Lycra shorts along the way.”
by Aaron Golub, Melody L. Hoffmann, Adonia E. Lugo, Gerardo F. Sandoval
“Bicycle Justice and Urban Transformation demonstrates that for those with privilege, bicycling can be liberatory, a lifestyle choice, whereas for those surviving at the margins, cycling is not a choice, but an often oppressive necessity. Ignoring these “invisible” cyclists skews bicycle improvements towards those with choices. This book argues that it is vital to contextualize bicycling within a broader social justice framework if investments are to serve all street users equitably. “Bicycle justice” is an inclusionary social movement based on furthering material equity and the recognition that qualitative differences matter.”
by Melody L. Hoffmann
“In Bike Lanes Are White Lanes, scholar Melody L. Hoffmann argues that the bicycle has varied cultural meaning as a “rolling signifier.” That is, the bicycle’s meaning changes in different spaces, with different people, and in different cultures. The rolling signification of the bicycle contributes to building community, influences gentrifying urban planning, and upholds systemic race and class barriers.
In this study of three prominent U.S. cities—Milwaukee, Portland, and Minneapolis—Hoffmann examines how the burgeoning popularity of urban bicycling is trailed by systemic issues of racism, classism, and displacement. From a pro-cycling perspective, Bike Lanes Are White Lanes highlights many problematic aspects of urban bicycling culture and its advocacy as well as positive examples of people trying earnestly to bring their community together through bicycling.”
by Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett
“Chris and Melissa Bruntlett share the incredible success of the Netherlands through engaging interviews with local experts and stories of their own delightful experiences riding in five Dutch cities. Building the Cycling City examines the triumphs and challenges of the Dutch while also presenting stories of North American cities already implementing lessons from across the Atlantic. Discover how Dutch cities inspired Atlanta to look at its transit-bike connection in a new way and showed Seattle how to teach its residents to realize the freedom of biking, along with other encouraging examples.”
by Hannah Ross
“More than a century after they first entered the mainstream, bicycles and the culture around them are as accessible as ever—but for women, that progress has always been a struggle to achieve, and even now the culture remains overwhelmingly male. In Revolutions, author Hannah Ross highlights the stories of extraordinary women cyclists and all-female cycling groups over time and around the world, and demonstrates both the feminist power of cycling and its present-day issues.”
by James Longhurst
“Bike Battles explores the different ways that Americans have thought about the bicycle through popular songs, merit badge pamphlets, advertising, films, newspapers and sitcoms. Those associations shaped the actions of government and the courts when they intervened in bike policy. These battles extend from the late 19th century legal fight, to debates over Good Roads and bicycle sidepaths; from the attempt to control the traffic created by the new automobile in the early 20th century, to the “Victory Bike” program encouraging and rationing bicycles during WWII; from the decline of the bike in postwar American suburbs, to the return of the 10-speed in the midst of the 1970s energy crises.”
by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler
“City Cycling emphasizes that bicycling should not be limited to those who are highly trained, extremely fit, and daring enough to battle traffic on busy roads. The chapters describe ways to make city cycling feasible, convenient, and safe for commutes to work and school, shopping trips, visits, and other daily transportation needs. The book also offers detailed examinations and illustrations of cycling conditions in different urban environments: small cities (including Davis, California, and Delft, the Netherlands), large cities (including Sydney, Chicago, Toronto and Berlin), and “megacities” (London, New York, Paris, and Tokyo). These chapters offer a closer look at how cities both with and without historical cycling cultures have developed cycling programs over time. The book makes clear that successful promotion of city cycling depends on coordinating infrastructure, programs, and government policies.”
by Peter Walker
“In How Cycling Can Save the World, Walker takes readers on a tour of cities like Copenhagen and Utrecht, where everyday cycling has taken root, demonstrating cycling’s proven effect on reducing smog and obesity, and improving quality of life and mental health. Interviews with public figures—such as Janette Sadik-Khan, who led the charge to create more pedestrian- and cyclist- friendly infrastructure in New York City—provide case studies on how it can be done, and prove that you can make a big change with just a few cycling lanes and a paradigm shift.”