The bicycle is a vestige of the Victorian era, seemingly out of pace with our age of smartphones and ridesharing apps and driverless cars. Yet we live on a bicycle planet. Across the world, more people travel by bicycle than by any other form of transportation. Almost anyone can learn to ride a bike - and nearly everyone does.
In Two Wheels Good, writer and critic Jody Rosen reshapes our understanding of this ubiquitous machine, an ever-present force in humanity's life and dreamlife, and a flashpoint in culture wars for more for than two hundred years. Combining history, reportage, travelogue, and memoir, Rosen sweeps across centuries and around the globe, unfolding the bicycle's saga from its invention in 1817 to its present-day renaissance as a 'green machine,' an emblem of sustainability in a world afflicted by pandemic and climate change. Readers meet unforgettable characters: feminist rebels who steered bikes to the barricades in the 1890s, a prospector who pedaled across the frozen Yukon to join the Klondike gold rush, a Bhutanese king who races mountain bikes in the Himalayas, a cycle rickshaw driver who navigates the seething streets of the world's fastest-growing megacity, astronauts who ride a floating bicycle in zero gravity aboard the International Space Station.
Two Wheels Good examines the bicycle's past and peers into its future, challenging myths and clichés, while uncovering cycling's connection to colonial conquest and the gentrification of cities. But the book is also a love letter: a reflection on the sensual and spiritual pleasures of bike riding and an ode to an engineering marvel - a wondrous vehicle whose passenger is also its engine.
The real feat of this book is that it takes us on a ride-across the centuries and around the globe, through startling history and vivid first-person reporting-offering not just a wry, rich, deeply researched meditation on the bicycle and our relationship to it, but the headlong rush of cruising on two wheels into the unknown
Two Wheels Good is better than a book has any right to be, the best thing I've ever read on a single subject. How did Jody Rosen make me care so much about bicycles? With curiosity, conscientiousness, and an exquisitely light touch, he makes a convincing case that the story of the bike is the story of modern life
When I fell in love with riding a bike in New York City last year, what I found myself craving was a history-of the bicycle, but also of that love, one that itself radiated passion, moved like the wind, believed in the power of adventure. But I'm greedy: I wished that whoever wrote this history would find a way to make it personal and ruminative; to bring cities and eras to life. Lo and behold: Jody Rosen has written that very book. My wish has come true and a door's been blown open. I got more than I knew I wanted
The stores are filled with books on little things that changed everything, but Jody Rosen's new book offers us a real little thing-the simple bicycle-that really did change everything, from the shape of our streets to the inner life of our imaginations. Showing how the bicycle has been by turns mechanical, utilitarian and political, a feminist engine and a proletarian necessity-only to end as the modern city dweller's green-dream vehicle-this is social history as it ought to be written: funny, precise, surprising, anti-dogmatic and unafraid of following a story, brakes off, to wherever the tale might want to glide
Wide-ranging and inquisitive, Two Wheels Good is like an entire library of books on the bicycle