Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne

I recently finished reading Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne. I first became aware of the book at a Barnes and Noble a few years ago. I thought about buying it then because I like bikes and I like Talking Heads but I decided not to. I was browsing at my library when I ran across it again and I thought it would be a good time to read it.

The book seems to based on the author’s view of different cities as he sees them from his bike. The title is very fitting. From what I understand he generally takes a bike when he travels – either on his tour bus or a folding bike in a suitcase. Some of the cities we learn about are Berlin, Manila, London and Sydney. The only populated continent not represented is Africa.

As I was reading I realized the book was a little older by the many references to the Bush (W) presidency. I am not left wondering which way the author leans politically. I think the book was written over a period of time and over many different places. It is interesting to get the view of the citizens of other nations and I think that is a really cool part of the book.

The real meat of the book, and the part that interested me, was the writing about biking. I got to vicariously ride throughout cities all over the world. Some cities are easy to bike, and some are difficult. Biking (or walking) gives a different perspective of a city than a car does. And in some cities it is faster than driving. The thoughts that come to the author while biking lead to many cool insights and tangents.

The idea of bringing a fold up bike traveling is an intriguing one. It can save quite a bit of cab or bus fare, and it allows you to see the city on your own terms.

In the back of the book the author has some sketches of bike racks he designed for New York City (his place of residence). They are meant for specific areas – for example a dollar sign for Wall Street. I think this is a good idea. It is public and functional art.

If you like travel books and semi-random musings this might be a book to consider reading. I enjoyed it. You can check it out at your local library or at the official site here.