Book Review: The Enlightened Cyclist by Bike Snob NYC

Book Review: The Enlightened Cyclist by Bike Snob NYC
Cover of The Enlightened Cyclist, courtesy of Chronicle Books website

Some people have a knack for cracking you up while telling it exactly like it is.

“Nevertheless, there’s no getting away from the fact that Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels sounds uncannily like a bicycle advocate, from the sandals all the way to the people turning on him for doing nothing more than putting forth a few good ideas.”

Such is the tempo and tenor of Bike Snob NYC’s The Enlightened Cyclist, Commuter Angst, Dangerous Drivers, and Other Obstacles on the Path to Two-Wheeled TranscendenceI purchased my copy on Kindle for a $1.99, but it’s easily worth the $11.42 Amazon charges for a hardcover ($16.95 suggested retail).

If you’re a fan of Eben Weiss’ blog by the same name, you’ve come to appreciate his irreverent take on bicycling and the people who partake in it.  But don't expect his second book to be non-stop snark.  This well-organized tome accurately paints a picture of the current state of bicycling in the US and the challenges facing the "chosen ones" who desire to get around on two wheels.  It's still extremely humorous (laugh out loud hilarious in some parts) - it's just far more insightful than his daily musings.

The book is written in four parts, mirroring a religious text you might be familiar with.  It follows the history of time (as mapped along the body of a dachshund) and compares the plight of the bike commuter with others who were also marginalized in the past.  Presented from this perspective, it's easy to see why we cyclists may have a problem getting along with others.

Without spoiling any of Weiss' revelations on his road to enlightenment, I can say that he has an equal amount of constructive criticism for cyclists as he does for other commuters.  It is for this very reason that the points he makes are so valuable.  We cyclists need to understand the bigger picture and be conscious of the role we play if we ever want to receive respect while out on the road.

It's tough to write a review without revealing the points Weiss makes or spoiling some of his best one-liners.  Maybe someday his Bike Snobisms will become so well-known that they'll be repeated mindlessly the way my friends and family members toss out quotes from The Jerk ("Lord loves a workin' man; don't trust whitey; see a doctor and get rid of it").  I'm confident that you'll be impressed with his perspective and anxious to add some of his witty descriptors to your daily conversations.

As for enlightenment, you may already be there.  The only way to know for sure is to read the book...


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