Author(s): Pete Jordan
Part personal memoir, part history of cycling, part fascinating street-level tour of Amsterdam, "In the City of Bikes" is the story of a man who loves bikes in a city that loves bikes. When Pete's story begins, his goals for an upcoming semester abroad are clear: study how to make America's cities more bicycle friendly, and then return home to his new bride, Amy Joy. Once he sets foot in Amsterdam, however, Pete falls immediately in love with the city that already lives life on two wheels-and suddenly, he can't imagine ever leaving it. Just two weeks into their marriage, Amy Joy joins Pete in Amsterdam, but hardships quickly loom in their adopted homeland. As they skip from one illegal sublet to the next, success and stability are constantly out of reach, and work is impossible to find-but they do discover deep pleasures during their daily rides through the city. And as Pete digs deep into the cycling history of Amsterdam, Amy Joy, prompted by a fortuitous flat, finds her own new calling as a bicycle mechanic. Pete, meanwhile, discovers an untold history of cycling in Amsterdam, an activity so ingrained in the city's lifestyle that its story hasn't been properly told. From its beginnings as an elitist pastime in the 1890s, to the street-consuming craze of the 1920s, from the bicycle's role in a city-wide resistance to the Nazi occupation, to the legendary success of the White Bikes in the 1970s, a movement that never in fact succeeded, to the bike fisherman of today, Jordan painstakingly recreates the evolution of cycling over time, through fads, alongside great movements in history. As his love grows for his adopted city, the fates seem to align, inviting him to stay. Amy Joy takes up an apprenticeship with an aging bicycle mechanic who offers them a vacant apartment right above his shop. It's just in time too, as their first child is on the way. Then, even more incredibly, the mechanic retires-leaving the shop to Amy Joy. They'll be staying in Amsterdam, and Pete will have a city to share with his son.
"Jordan brings depth and color to a niche subject, delivering an engaging cultural history. By the end, readers will understand that the bike is to Amsterdam what the car is to America. Both are more than modes of transportation: they're a substantial part of their riders' identities."--"Publishers Weekly"
Pete Jordan is the author of the memoir Dishwasher: One Man's Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States. Pete's work has been featured on public radio's This American Life and in the New York Times. He currently lives in Amsterdam.