Why are bikes so fun? Because they are not cars.

Yet many readers—equestrian readers, perhaps—will find the most meaning in Rosen’s carefully curated but unmistakable personal passion fo...


Yet many readers—equestrian readers, perhaps—will find the most meaning in Rosen’s carefully curated but unmistakable personal passion for the bicycle. “Bicycling is the best way I know to achieve altered consciousness,” he writes, “better than yoga, wine, or weed. It goes neck and neck with sex and coffee. All enthusiasm are a little goofy, and at times Rosen achieves a kind of embarrassed nirvana as he contemplates his subject, lovingly describing trick rider stunts, rickshaw rides through Dhaka or his own encounters with snow, car doors and, of course, drivers too many obnoxious and insensitive drivers to count.

Four bad wheels – that’s the logical second half of the quote the book’s title invites us to end, after all. Should we as a species ride bicycles instead of driving cars? Most likely. “The age of the automobile is an age of carnage,” writes Rosen. “Some 1.25 million people die each year in car accidents.” Not just that either: “Motor vehicles are the largest net contributor to climate change.”

The inescapable problem is that cars have their own romance. “Two Wheels Good” fights admirably against this fact without ever overpowering it. Even China, which at its peak in 1996 had some 523 million bicycles distributed to its citizens, has been subjected to a new “automotive frenzy”, sending bicycle use into a “precipitous decline”. For all the bike’s charm, utility and elegance, we as a species seem drawn to its calamitous and problematic successor.

I live in Los Angeles, where cyclists race down the curves of Griffith Park so fast it sometimes seems surprising that even one of them makes it home alive. It’s a city that drives, and so I’m currently a person who drives – although I totally believe Rosen’s assertion that cities built around bikes would be “safer, healthier, healthier, more livable “. Alas, we live in a different world than we wish. “Ice is melting up and down the planet,” writes the author, “forests are igniting, political systems are fracturing, a pandemic has shaken daily life to its foundations, and amid the tumult, a new global cycling culture is emerging.”

The question is whether it is in time. Would it be surprising if, no matter what, we all ended up after the apocalypse on bicycles, humble, easy, indestructible? After reading Rosen’s passionate story, I was convinced. And there is also a bike shop nearby. I keep wanting to drive there.

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