A shorter version was published on Blogcritics
As an occasional participant in London’s Critical Mass, as a regular “it’s the best way to get around” cyclist on the streets of the British capital, and as a campaigner who thinks that cars get far, far too much consideration when it comes to town planning, when I saw One Less Car in Edinburgh’s bookshop, I just had to pick it up.
It’s the first history that I’ve seen of the politics of the bicycle, and while I know quite a bit about the late 20th century and early 21st-century campaigns around cycling, I knew little of what came before.
I now feel far more informed, although I was glad as I read of my sometimes too close knowledge of cultural studies and associated jargon, for the author, Jack Furness, his field as assistant professor of cultural studies at Columbia College Chicago, and it shows. Although to be fair, it’s pretty hard to talk about the Situationists, as Furness does, without using their jargon. He quotes Pierre Canjuers and Guy Debord: “A mistake made by all the city planners is to consider the private automobile … S essentially means of transportation. In reality, it is the most notable material symbol of the notion of happiness that developed capitalism tends to spread throughout the society. The automobile is at the centre of this general propaganda, both as supreme good of an alienated life and as essential product of the capitalist market.” (p54)