Okay, so we’re at Day 17 here in the “You, Go, Girl!” series, where I promised you stories about 31 women throughout August who are making it more welcoming to ride bikes across the USA. I created this project to reconnect with my passion and purpose by shining a light on others for inspiration, after the violating trauma of surviving a hit-and-run while Traveling at the Speed of Bike in the place I call home.
Yesterday, as I whipped around Atlanta car-free, care-free (well, maybe except for the global pandemic and all), and happy (all my fave things — street art! free public fruit! nice strangers!), I realized I was fully back in the saddle.
So, today, while I await replies for potential interviews from a few more women doing some truly amazing things, I’m gonna let other women tell the stories as I feature their bike-related books, all of which I purchased, read, and loved. I’m using the exact words from their listings. (Note: I’ve also read and loved a ton of bike books written by men, and yes, men have done a ton of amazing things to make the USA more welcoming for bikes as well, and those are stories for another time. Studies show women are passed more closely, harassed more often, and underrepresented in our shared public spaces so that’s where I feel I need to focus. When we make our streets safer for women, we actually make them safer for everyone. It’s a win-win.)
Let’s start with Microcosm Publishing (starred below), an indie publishing house that features a slew of fun, informative, radical, and inclusive bike-related books and zines. I love purchasing from them as not only are you supporting a small, local business telling bold, honest stories you often can’t find anywhere else, but you also usually get fun, free stickers. 🙂
The others I’m listing are available on Amazon, but you can also look for them on Better World Books or request them from your local bookseller. (I even made it easier for you to support local by offering many of these books here — 10% of all sales goes back to indie bookstores across the USA!) And that last one? It may not seem like a memoir about getting run over by an eighteen-wheeler would make it more welcoming to ride bikes, but, in all honesty, I absolutely loved that book and thinking about it while Traveling at the Speed Bike around trucks probably saved my life a few times. (See my little video about trucks on my Bonus Resources page.) So, yeah, it gets to stay.
So, the inclusion of these 10 women (not counting all the additional contributors) puts us at a running total of 26 women for the “You Go, Girl!” series-to-date. You can see the rest of the stories at the links below (or just tap in to TravelingAtTheSpeedOfBike.com’s homepage and scroll.) It’s my birthday week and I have some other goals, so stay tuned for the final five women next week.
1. Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy
by Elly Blue AUTHOR
Now updated and expanded with new angles on social justice!
Elly Blue’s Bikenomics provides a surprising and compelling new perspective on the way we get around and on how we spend our money, as families and as a society. The book starts with a look at Americans’ real transportation costs, and moves on to examine the current civic costs of our transportation system. Blue tells the stories of people, businesses, organizations, and cities who are investing in two-wheeled transportation. The multifaceted North American bicycle movement is revealed, with its contradictions, challenges, successes, and visions.
Everyday Bicycling: Ride a Bike for Transportation (Whatever Your Lifestyle)
by Elly Blue AUTHOR
Everyday Bicycling is your guide to everything you need to know to get started riding a bicycle for transportation. Elly Blue introduces you to the basics, including street smarts, bike shopping, dressing professionally, carrying everything from groceries to furniture, riding with children, and riding in all weather. With its positive, practical approach, this book is perfect for anyone who has ever dreamed of getting around by bike.
The new 2015 edition is revised and updated! Including new sections on bikeshare, pets, and carrying other adults with you on your bicycle.
Our Bodies, Our Bikes
An homage to the classic Our Bodies, Ourselves, this encyclopedic, crowd-sourced compilation of essays, resources, information, and advice about the intersection of gender and bicycling covers a lot of ground—bold meditations on body parts, stories about recovery from illness and injury, biking to the birth center, and loud and proud declarations of physical and emotional freedom.
Includes accounts of bicycling while pregnant, tips about how to ride fast or what to wear when you need to look professional, stories of cycling with kids, biking with various experiences of gender, age, ability, sexuality, menstruation, chronic illness, an extensive and illuminating article about the vulva and contact with your bike saddle, thoughts about abortion and reproductive rights, and much more.
There’s something for everyone in here, and something to expand everyone’s idea of what’s for them.
2. Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution
During the years that Janette Sadik-Khan was New York City’s transportation commissioner, the city’s public spaces transformed from car-choked hell-holes to merely car-infested places that were way more ok to walk, bicycle, wait for the bus, and just sit and exist and watch the world go by. Traffic crashes and congestion went down, foot and bike traffic went up, and businesses thrived a bit better. This is NYC, so every single change was fought tooth and nail. This is JSK’s account of that time. Fascinating as a parable of how change gets made politically and on the street.
3. Bicycle/Race: Transportation, Culture, & Resistance
by Adonia E. Lugo, PhD AUTHOR
Bicycle/Race paints an unforgettable picture of Los Angeles—and the United States—from the perspective of two wheels. This is a book of borderlands and intersections, a cautionary tale about the dangers of putting infrastructure before culture, and a coming-of-age story about power and identity. The colonial history of southern California is interwoven through Adonia Lugo’s story of growing up Chicana in Orange County, becoming a bicycle anthropologist, and co-founding Los Angeles’s hallmark open streets cycling event, CicLAvia, along the way. When she takes on racism in the world of national bicycle advocacy in Washington, DC, she finds her voice and heads back to LA to organize the movement for environmental justice in active transportation.
In the tradition of City of Quartz, this book will forever change the way you see Los Angeles, race and class in the United States, and the streets and people around you wherever you live.
4. Urban Revolutions: A Woman’s Guide to Two-Wheeled Transportation
by Emilie Bahr AUTHOR
Urban Revolutions is a different kind of cycling book. Author Emilie Bahr draws on her experience as an everyday cyclist and a transportation planner in New Orleans to demystify urban bicycling in this visually-compelling and fun-to-read field guide.
What does it mean for a city to be bike-friendly? What makes bicycling a women’s issue? What does it take to feel safe on a bike? How do you bike to work in the summer and still look professional? What is the most fun you can possibly have on two wheels without being athletic? Bahr answers all these questions and more in her friendly and thoughtful essays and detailed practical tips on everything from biking in hot weather to biking with kids to biking with natural hair.
5. You & a Bike & a Road
by Eleanor Davis AUTHOR
Under a cloud of depression, and wanting an adventure before settling down to have a baby, Eleanor Davis set out by bicycle to ride from her parents’ house in Tucson, Arizona to her home in Athens, Georgia. She chronicled the journey in moving, meditative comics that show her traversing her inner, emotional landscape as well as the route along the US-Mexico border and the people, places, and scenes she encounters along the way. Especially stirring is when she witnesses the aftermath of a high speed Border Patrol chase, with the pursued man crashing his car into a canal and being brought out with lassos. Reminiscent of Bill Brown’s Dream Whip but with more art than text, this evocative story is something really special.
6. Holy Spokes: The Search for Urban Spirituality on Two Wheels
After Laura Everett’s car died on the highway one rainy night, she made the utterly practical decision to start riding her bicycle to work through the streets of Boston. Seven years later, she’s never looked back.
Holy Spokes tells the story of Everett’s unlikely conversion to urban cycling. As she pedaled her way into a new way of life, Everett discovered that her year-round bicycle commuting wasn’t just benefiting her body, her wallet, and her environment. It was enriching her soul.
Ride along with Everett through Holy Spokes as she explores the history of cycling, makes friends with a diverse and joyful community of fellow cyclists, gets up close and personal with the city she loves—and begins to develop a deep, robust, and distinctly urban spirituality.
7. Bike Hunt: A Memoir
Bike Hunt: A Memoir is a tragic love story of an enchantment with and sacrifice for a magical machine. In the end, it is a story of hope and resilience for anyone who has ever let themselves slip away into ambition.
8. Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)
9. I Never Intended to Be Brave: A Woman’s Bicycle Journey Through Southern Africa
Not yet ready to return to the States after her service as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, Heather Andersen sets her dream of exploring southern Africa by bicycle in motion. Her group dwindles to just two before the trip even starts and she finds herself traveling with a man she’s never met before. Tension between them builds until the inevitable split, and Heather continues on alone through unfamiliar lands. With great appreciation and understanding, she vividly describes her surroundings, the colorful people she encounters, and the adventure of traveling in foreign cultures as a solo woman on a bicycle. With the question of whether it’s safe never far from her mind, she forges her own path through southern Africa—and life. Along the way, she trusts her intuition and the kindness of strangers, appreciates the rhythm of an unscheduled life on the road, and rediscovers her commitment to leading the life she wants. If you’ve ever wanted to go somewhere completely unknown to you, or just want to experience it through someone else’s eyes, I Never Intended to Be Brave will take you there.
10. How to Get Run Over by a Truck
On a sunny morning bike ride in Brooklyn, twenty-four-year-old Katie McKenna was forever changed when she was run over by an eighteen-wheeler. Being crushed under a massive semi wasn’t something Katie should have survived. After ten hours of emergency surgery, she woke to find herself in a body and a life that would never be the same.
In this brutally honest and surprisingly funny memoir, Katie recalls the pivotal event and the long, confusing road to recovery that followed. Between the unprepared nudity in front of her parents post-surgery, hospital happy hours, and the persistent fear that she would never walk again, Katie details the struggles she’s faced navigating her new reality. This inspiring memoir follows Katie’s remarkable journey to let go of her old life and fall in love with her new one.
You may enjoy my books, too.
The complete series:
10. Meet Irene Lutts
14. Meet Jenn Dice
28. Meet Megan Ramey
30. Meet Aly Nicklas