David Byrne Bicycle Diaries

A bike romantic, David Byrne talked about his travels with the bike and how unfriendly most American cities are to cyclists. He was on the Seattle stop of a tour for his new book: the Bicycle Diaries. Unlike the usual book tour, David focused the event on advocacy with a civic leader, an urban theorist, a bicycle advocate, and himself each giving 10 minute presentations.

After the talks, the audience interacted with questions. In the hallways of the venue, various agencies represented their cause and there were more bike-related books for sale.


Each attendee received a book with their admission and most were reading it while we waited for the talks.

David’s charisma on stage was that of a cyclist sharing trip photos, instead of a rockstar with a new record out. He didn’t give any media interviews and his PR agency didn’t advance any books. The emphasis was on the bike and the community of cyclists in each city.

David Byrne: Cities, Bicycles, and the Future of Getting Around He began his talk by observing that our urban spaces are designed for cars and not people. Riding around the world and then back in the US, he photographs lots of concrete and not a lot of people interacting in the cities of cars. His aerial photo of Seattle showed that faithful decision to run a highway through the middle of it (audience groaned).

David’s presentation was an eloquent reminder of why we travel with bikes wherever we go, with Mobile Socials in Vegas and blogging from international destinations. The bike is a connector. It’s made our lives richer by all the interesting people we’ve met and things we’ve seen.

David made a point to mention that he bikes in plain clothes and not for racing or even as a tourist. He just rides his bike for the romance of it.

So do we.

More David Byrne

David talks next in San Francisco, Portland, then Ottowa and Toronto. His book is on sale now and getting very positive press.

More bike travel

Mark is currently traveling with other cyclists in Taiwan and next month we’re riding urban in Europe and India. We’re saving our read of the Bicycle Diaries for the long plane rides. This paragraph from David’s introduction resonated

These diaries go back at least a dozen years. Many were written during work-related visits to various towns–for a performance or an exhibit, in my case. Lots of folks have jobs that take them all over the world. I found that biking around for just a few hours a day–or even just to and from work–helps keep me sane. People can lose their bearings when they travel, unmoored from their familiar physical surroundings, and that somehow loosens some psychic connections as well. Sometimes that’s a good thing–it can open the mind, offer new insights– but frequently it’s also traumatic in a not-so-good way. Some people retreat into themselves or their hotel rooms if a place is unfamiliar, or lash out in an attempt to gain some control. I myself find that the physical sensation of self-powered transport coupled with the feeling of self-control endemic to this two wheeled situation is nicely empowering and reassuring, even if temporary, and it is enough to center me for the rest of the day.

The last plane read was Joe Parkin’s A Dog in a Hat.

We recieved a media pass to the event and thank you Town Hall Seattle.

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