Book event tonight: A chronicle of life in Amsterdam, the ‘City of Bikes’

Posted by on May 3rd, 2013 at 9:25 am

Pete Jordan, a former Portland resident who lived in Amsterdam for the past eleven years, has written a book about the experience. In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist (Harper Perennial 2013) came out a few days ago and Jordan is back in Portland tonight for a reading.

Here’s more about the book from Powells.com:

“When Pete Jordan arrives in Amsterdam to study how to make America’s cities more bicycle-friendly, he immediately falls in love with the city that already lives life on two wheels. His new bride, Amy Joy, joins Pete, and despite their financial hardships and instability, she eventually finds her own new calling as a bicycle mechanic as Pete discovers the untold history of cycling in Amsterdam.

From its beginnings as an elitist pastime in the 1890s to the street-consuming craze of the 1920s, from the bicycle’s role in a citywide resistance to the Nazi occupation to the White Bikes of the 1960s and the bike fishermen of today, Jordan chronicles the evolution of Amsterdam’s cycling.

Part personal memoir, part history of cycling, part fascinating street-level tour of Amsterdam, In the City of Bikes is the story of a man who loves bikes, in a city that loves bikes.”

As someone who will be in Amsterdam next month (I’ll share more details Monday), I can’t wait to read this book. It’s already getting good reviews from the L.A. Times and the Wall St. Journal (that excellent review was written by none other than Lovely Bicycle blogger Constance Winters).

You can meet Jordan and learn more about his experiences in Amsterdam tonight at 7:30 pm at an event sponsored by Reading Frenzy and hosted by the Independent Publishing Resource Center (1001 SE Division St.). Admission is free with purchase of a book or a $3 donation to the IPRC but no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

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Lenny Anderson
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Lenny Anderson

Amsterdam is full of bikes and also full of trams, ie. streetcars. I was gasping twice a minute on my first ride from Central Station on a tram. But at low speeds, chaos works in the public right of way.
Other reading: Dutch Bike Master Plan from 1995. The Netherlands was headed full speed down the bigger, faster highways road in the 60’s with bike use declining. Then they did the math and figured the country simply could not afford the cost of all the proposed roads. Getting folks back on their bikes was and remains the low cost solution for mobility and access. Think about all the bike, transit, pedestrian facilities you could build here for $4B…the price of the unneeded CRC!

Chris I
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Chris I

It is quite the experience. To an American, used to highly controlled traffic interchanges, it can be unnerving at first. But after riding around the city for a few days, you start to realize how much safer it is. Everyone is traveling at a slower speed, and it hyper-aware, yielding to pedestrians and other cyclists. Probably the only thing that continued to scare me was the motorized mopeds that would speed by within inches of you on the cycles tracks. I can’t believe they allow that.

Paul
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Paul

They’ve started to ban scooters on some paths now, as the problem is getting worse and most people really hate those things. I’m hoping they ban them on all fietspads soon!

Iemand
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Iemand

Helpful hint: The plural is ‘fietspaden’. ‘fietspads’ is not a Dutch word.

Or you can just say “bike paths”.

spare_wheel
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spare_wheel

From filigree/velouria/constance’s WSJ review:

“Getting cyclists to obey traffic rules and various ordinances was as comically impossible in 1905 as in 2005.”

Amen, sister.

Amsterdam is a living, breathing, and cycling refutation of safety nannyism and cycling false-safety-concern.

Greg
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Greg

Well maybe sorta. On the other hand Dutch safety is the result of exactly the sort of intensive investment in both infrastructure *and* education *and* traffic calming that would have most US motorists screaming “Nanny state!” at the top of their lungs 🙂

But I suppose it’s a refutation of *stupid* nannyism …

Alan 1.0
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Alan 1.0

Mmm…do you base that on your own experience? In my experiences with Dutch friends and visits there, Dutch culture seems quite independent and free-spirited, with less nannyism and state-dependence than I feel in the States.

carole
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carole

Yay! Dishwasher Pete! I love him.