The mystery of the bike

“Since their debut in the 1800s, bicycles have been a bewildering presence on the streets, the unpredictable fairings of their riders infuriating carriage drivers, then motorists and, all the time, pedestrians.” Meanwhile, some cyclists cling to a “sense of moral superiority”, Zoë Beery writes in the Atlantic. “As climate collapse looms, bicycles have taken on a holy quality, touted as impeccable instruments of penance for the carbon emissions of rich countries.”

This simple story doesn’t tell the whole story, claims a new book by Jody Rosen. “Two wheels well: the history and mystery of the bicycle takes readers on a journey through time and the world to build an alternate narrative about a simple machine that becomes harder to categorize as you learn more about it. Throughout history and across cultures, the bicycle has been a human denominator.

The source article describes Rosen’s book, which details the history of the bicycle and the cultural and historical significance of the machine. As Beery notes, “Fascinating information organized by loose themes, abrupt topic changes in sections, and chapters on cycling, exercise bikes, and bicycles as sex objects make the book comprehensive but also hazy. . Yet the meandering structure often feels like a leisurely stroll, full of spontaneous detours to unexpected pleasure.

Beery also calls the book “essential” for its “rigorous reporting” on historical facts and the less pleasant aspects of bicycle history. “By showing that the bicycle has always been complicated – accessory for some and indispensable for others, means of leisure and work, signifying both wealth and poverty – Rosen also shows that it is universal, inviting even the most skeptical readers with his humility. and humor.”

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