The power of the bicycle to impact mobility, technology, urban space and everyday life
One Less Car
Bicycling and the Politics of Automobility
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Although millions of people in the United States love to ride bicycles for exercise or leisure, statistics show that only 1 percent of the total U.S. population uses bicycles for transportation—and barely half as many people bike to work. In his original and exciting book, One Less Car, Zack Furness examines what it means historically, culturally, socioeconomically, and politically to be a bicycle transportation advocate/activist.
Presenting an underground subculture of bike enthusiasts who aggressively resist car culture, Furness maps out the cultural trajectories between mobility, technology, urban space and everyday life. He connects bicycling to radical politics, public demonstrations, alternative media production (e.g., ‘zines), as well as to the development of community programs throughout the world.
One Less Car also positions the bicycle as an object with which to analyze and critique some of the dominant cultural and political formations in the U.S.—and even breaks down barriers of race, class and gender privilege that are interconnected to mobility. For Furness, bicycling can be a form of liberation and a way to support social and environmental justice. So, he asks, Why aren't more Americans adopting bikes for their transportation needs?
"One Less Car is intelligent, thought provoking, passionate, and well written. It will fit nicely between activist bike books like Chris Carlsson's Critical Mass and more ‘objective’ work on bikes. One Less Car [is] the first work, to my knowledge, that situates cycling as a resistant culture, and it will become the standard on the subject. As a case study of a politicized subculture, it will appeal to scholars and students in cultural studies, communications, and social movements."
"One Less Car is a very engaging and sophisticated analysis of the bicycle, its culture, and its politics. Zack Furness beautifully contextualizes his work within broader social and historical circumstances, and he insightfully addresses an issue whose political and environmental consequences demand our attention."
"Read it for a thoughtful look into the many faces of bicycling culture and politics."
"I love One Less Car: Bicycling and the Politics of Automobility for its depth of field. Furness weaves together the myriad sociological, artistic, political and ethical impacts of the bicycle in a scholarly 300-page treatise. Pithy, page-long paragraphs don’t scare me, and terms like “performative critique” and “cultural norms” have the effect on me that Morticia speaking French has on Gomez Addams. I don't expect to finish the book in a week like I did Blink and Snoop and The Professor. This is a book I will be ‘hitting’, underlining, quoting and, in short, studying in order to face the second half of my lifelong campaign to promote bikes."
"[Furness'] book is a study of community organising and social movements, sub-cultures and social media, and the politics of resistance.... There [are] fascinating sections on how utility cyclists are routinely portrayed by Hollywood as losers, yet how big international brands are hijacking trendy biking sub-culture imagery in order [to] sell more of their 'urban chic' apparel...Particularly interesting...is his chapter on an investigation of community bicycle projects, bicycle aid an competing visions of development."
"Furness has produced a remarkable book. It is at once a history of bicycling in (mostly) the US; a cultural analysis of the bicycle, the car, and auto-mobility; and a solid piece of advocacy for bicycle-friendly policies. This solidly researched book covers a remarkable amount of territory.... [It] began as a PhD thesis, but reads like a bestseller. Even, perhaps especially, the endnotes are interesting. Summing Up: Highly Recommended."
"[A] lively and accessible glimpse into an important and oft-overlooked piece of the transportation topography. [Furness] puts forward an intelligent (and clearly impassioned) picture of a safer, saner, and sounder approach to mobility in the form of the bicycle, arguing that its more widespread use is a key element in moving us forward sustainably....[T]his book brings our attention to an understudied and significant arena in the understanding of mobility and its possible futures. The copious and detailed (and fascinating) endnotes make it clear that this is a well researched work. Furness manages to pull in many weighty issues and handle them with respect, nuance, and gravity, while retaining an optimism uncharacteristic of similar sociological critiques of capitalism. His hope for the potential of bike culture to help us street clear of disaster is just one of the many reasons that this is a valuable and delightful read."
"[I]mpressive in its scope and detail.... One Less Car offer[s] insights into an aspect of U.S. cycling that, until recently, has been overlooked."
"Furness offers a firm and thoroughgoing political critique of assumptions and practices inherent in much cycling work that is often missing from other analyses.... Another welcome aspect of One Less Car is Furness' insightful picking apart of differences in perspective within the cycling world where one might have assumed coherence. His critiques of advocates who dismiss the needs and experiences of less-experienced bicycle users, and of international development programs that reinforce existing inequalities...are well-argued but pull no punches...[I]t is refreshing to be able to read an account where the author's viewpoint has not been watered down by false attempts to appear 'balanced.' One of the most novel aspects of One Less Car...is the parallel Furness draws between DIY bike culture and DIY punk music culture."
"One Less Car, a celebration of bike culture, describes what can be achieved by rethinking the process of getting around.... One Less Car is filled with thought-provoking ideas that will cause all readers to question the value of the automobile as a means of transport, but Furness provides no final solutions. Implicit throughout is the idea that fewer cars and more bicycles would make the world a better place."
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