There's one thing anyone who has traveled to Amsterdam will remember--among with the myriad, ahem, forgotten things--the bicycles. Hundreds of dingy brown clunkers wheel by, across canals and through parks, narrowly dodging and shaking angry Dutch fists at the stoned tourist masses. Amsterdam has long been known as a bike-friendly community, and luckily for non-car-obsessed Americans, a number of stateside cities are following suit.
Political journalist Jeff Mapes from The Oregonian has spent the last three years studying the bicycling movement sweeping urban metropolises across the country. In his book, Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities, Mapes suggests that bicyclists are altering the way cities grow and develop because bikes are being taken more seriously as an alternative form of transportation.
In cities like Portland, Ore., for example, only 10 years after the town began building a system of bikeways, 7 percent of the city's population bikes to work. According to a review of Mapes' book in The New York Times, New York City's Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan believes that improving bicycling infrastructure helps cities become more economically competitive because they become "places where people with ideas and creative ambitions want to both live and work."
On Thursday, Sept. 16, Mapes will give a talk at the Linen Building at 7 p.m. sponsored by the Boise Bicycle Project. Admission is $5, and a full bar is available. So, make like you're in Amsterdam, hop on your clunker and head down.