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By Mia Birk
$23.95 USD Cadence Press, 2010
Reviewed by Carolyn Szczepanski
Mia Birk was there at the dawn of the revolution. Back when “bike lane” was a four-letter word, Birk was fighting to make streets safe and inviting for bicyclists. Her energy and vision propelled Portland, OR, to become the nation’s most bike-friendly city, making once-crazy ideas realities on the pavement. So, if you’re a bike history buff, Birk’s new book is required reading. Luckily, Joyride, doesn’t feel like a history lesson – it feels like your friend retelling war stories over a couple of beers at your favorite bar. A conversational writer, Birk reveals her battles within the bureaucracy in an engaging narrative, not a dry, technical timeline. She recreates scenes – some tense, some hilarious – with character descriptions and internal dialogue that put us right there in the room, whether cajoling indignant suburbanites who love their SUVs or convincing policymakers to open their minds to the idea of healthier transportation options. There’s conflict. There’s gutsy risk-taking. There are moments of frustration that warrant more than a few trips to the local watering hole. And that’s the beauty of Birk’s book: she makes the journey into our collective past one heck of a Joyride.