In the City of Bikes The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist5stars



All for the Love of Bicycling

By Pete Jordan

Harper Perennia, $15.99, 438 pages

Discounting the job factor, was it the people, the climate, the tempo that lured you to start over in a particular spot? For Pete Jordan it was quite simply bicycles. His enthusiasm for two-wheelers hasn’t let up after living in Amsterdam for over ten years. To prove his passion, he’s written a fast-paced, incredibly well-documented account of the bicycle’s role in Amsterdam history. ||Riding in his earlier homes on the US west coast didn’t satisfy, but no sooner had he started peddling on Amsterdam’s bike lanes than he recognized he had reached his personal nirvana. What a delightful book! The pages are filled with irreverent as well as serious details: the Dutch attitude to German tourists whose forbears might have pinched one of the 50,000 bicycles they commandeered during World War II, pregnant young women fearlessly joining the throng of riders, and Queen Juliana cycling on public thoroughfares back in the 1930s.

The book’s central focus is on bicycles though it presents also a social history of the city from the late 19th century to the present. Pity the publisher couldn’t run to illustrations. Fueled by Jordan’s captivating style, our imagination seeks visuals too.

Reviewed By Jane Manaster