This time, it's _Pedaling Revolution_, by Jeff Mapes, which at least some media coverage indicated would be available on the kindle, but I grew tired of waiting and bought in paper, figuring I'd donate it when I was done with it. R. and I have done a lot of talking about what the hell happened with bicycling culture in the US and this here's the timeline we have for our lives:
white people move to suburbs (post WW2)
in 'burbs, 1 car per family, so other adult (usually, but not always, wife) rides bike
bike is often an English 3 speed (Raleigh) with a Brooks saddle
kids get Schwinns
wife gets job, wife gets used car (possibly husband's car doesn't get traded in one cycle)
Reagan era cheap gas + high cost of new expected standard of living = no more adults cycling
kids lust after 10 speeds with drop handles
kids get a license at 16
[ETA mountain biking as a sport is invented]
parenting standards change (moving into the Clinton era here): car seats required by law, chauffeuring kids around, helmets, blah, blah, bleeping, blah
mountain biking [ETA: er, mountain bikes as a consumer item] becomes uber popular
Schwinns all but forgotten, adults and kids no longer ride, except when they ride the mysterious hybrid (because still, no one can cope with those drop handle bars IRL)
kids grow up, move to the cities, import bike culture from elsewhere (mountain biking, the Netherlands, etc.)
In my driveway last Saturday, the saddle on the Townie was noted and admired, and C. wanted to know what a "Brooks saddle" was. There was a brief pause, as everyone contemplated how to explain to R.'s mom what a "Brooks saddle" was and why it was special. I pointed out that she almost certainly had _had_ one and after discussion, concluded yup, she had -- and she had put a sheepskin on to make sure it stayed dry. This, of course, will never explain to C. why a Brooks Saddle is a lustworthy object to folk of her children's generation -- but then, try to explain Lady Ga-Ga to me. Unlikely to work, and even if it did, probably not worth the effort.
Where the bludgeoning comes in is here:
"But not since the Great Depression or the gas rationing of World War II have most people expected to do much of a utilitarian nature with their bike, at least as adults."
Because women don't count? Really? Clearly someone pointed out that as teenagers, they all expected to do something of a utilitarian nature with their bikes, hence the last clause. But no one of C.'s generation was consulted. And women's history, once again, was ignored and forgotten.