Sunday, October 9, 2011

Copenhagen, City of Bicycles: the Book

CPH: City of Bicycles
When the Bicycle Quarterly Press asked me to review Copenhagen, City of Bicycles, I could not help but wonder what this book could offer that the world of bicycle blogs has not already familiarised us with. In 2007 a certain Mr. Colville Andersen flung open a virtual window into the pedaling soul of the small Scandinavian city with Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic, establishing its worldwide reputation as a cycling mecca. Since then, Copenhagen has become synonymous with cycling - with fashion-oriented bicycle bloggers paying homage to its style and progressive city planners eager to emulate its infrastructure. Given the wealth of imagery and information on the topic readily available online, what can a book about Copenhagen and bicycles tell us that we don't already know?

CPH: City of Bicycles
Of course, it's not always in the "what," but in the "how." In Copenhagen, City of Bicycles Cecilia Vanman presents a comprehensive, colourfully illustrated introduction to the city's cycling culture and history, painting a portrait of a magical, happy place that the reader will long to visit. The photography (by Robyn Maddock) makes liberal use of fading sunlight, infusing the images with a warm, dynamic and nostalgic feel. The layout is clean, contemporary and easy to follow - despite the side-by-side placement of Danish and English text. Divided into 9 chapters, it maintains a clear sense of structure and direction from beginning to end. The narrative flows easily, steering clear of dry technical talk and empty "fluff" in equal measure. The tone is friendly and never condescending.

CPH: City of Bicycles
While those uninformed about Copenhagen's cycling culture will undoubtedly benefit from this book the most, it is not without novel information even for readers who've been browsing bicycle blogs for years. I found the chapter about manufacturers and framebuilders informative, and many other random interesting tidbits throughout. I also enjoyed the pictures of some unique vintage and modified bicycles and wished there were more of those.

CPH: City of Bicycles
The one part of the book that did come across to me as redundant, was the chapter consisting of photos and brief bios of Copenhagen cyclists. This is a tactic that I feel is best left to the realm of blogs and flickr - it is more effective there than in print. But overall, I would say that City of Bicycles summarises and supplements, rather than competes with, the Copenhagen-oriented bicycle blogs.

CPH: City of Bicycles
Copenhagen, City of Bicycles is published by Nyt Nordisk/ Arnold Busck, and distributed in North America by the Bicycle Quarterly Press. If you would like to receive my reviewer's copy for free, please leave a comment by Sunday 11:59pm US Pacific time (with a functional email address where I can readily reach you - this proved to be a problem again for the last give-away) - and I will choose the recipient at random. Enjoy the long weekend!

51 comments:

  1. I would love to get a copy of this book! I read Mikael's websites and would love to see my city adopt similar changes to encourage cycling here, in fact "Copenhagen style bike lanes" are part of the bicycle plan of our local council. Copenhagen style bicycle infrastructure is legendary in the biking world and to read this book would be an eye opener. I may not be eligible for the comp as I live in Australia, but here is my email anyway...
    vicki.coughlan7 AT gmail DOT com

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  2. I can imagine me and several of my Transition Houston friends sitting around a table, admiring the pictures, scanning the text and together being inspired!

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  3. I'd love to read!

    Please contact me for an email :)

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  4. Natalie and others - I am very sorry, but I will only be choosing from comments that provide an email address. Tracking people down through their links and blogs has not worked out well in the past. If you want to avoid spam, use substitute words or symbols for things like "at" and "dotcom". It works.

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  5. htchen AT cal DOT berkeley DOT edu
    btw, have items from the fall sale been sent?

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  6. Cool, Veloria. I don't need to win another contest (we're still enjoying the Tour de France book), but I'm excited for the Copenhagen blogs. I try to limit my blog reading and had honestly not read those. But this summer, I'm planning a trip to Viking country with my students, and Copenhagen is definitely on the list. I'd like us to rent bikes and tour the city that way, if we can. I'll be perusing the blogs for more info. Thanks!

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  7. I have only just recently started to read cycling blogs so I think this book would be great to get an overview of the topic without having to hit the "previous entry" button to be able to follow along.

    Email: jwbmartin1469 AT gmail . com


    Thanks in advance for the opportunity

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  8. Following the example of American author Shirley Agudo about Dutch cycling culture: http://bicycle-mania.nl/

    Vicki Coughlan: You might wish to have a look at David Hembrow's site A View from the Cycle Path (hembrow.blogspot.com). He recently toured with groups of Australian and British cyclists to show them the effects of Dutch cycling infrastructure. Both have websites:
    the Australians: http://cyclingdutchstyle.com.au/
    the Brits: http://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/node/2126

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  9. Frits B: thanks for your references! I read Hembrow's site from time to time and on the cycling dutch style site, two of the people who were on that tour are from my city and one of them I know, we have a group of cycling advocates here and he is a highly active one, often appearing in our local paper. A few people from our region have done cycling study tours of Europe and North America - Portland especially - and are providing input into the development of our cycleways. It is an exciting time here and I hope to see our town become a cycle friendly one. Thanks again for the links!

    Vicki

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  10. another Berkeley address to enter:
    L8on@berkeley.edu

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  11. I have been following your blog recently. And I find even your early posts in line with my personal findings about the biking world... though we are worlds apart... you being in Boston and other east-coast communities and myself in Phoenix, AZ. Though your blog is focused towards women, and beautiful bikes, and the women and men that ride them, I find your blog an inspiration riding in Phoenix. I find myself reminded of what is at stake every time that I throw my leg over my green, copper, and white single speed every time I board my bicycle. Phoenix has very few hills, so more than one gear is very over-kill. I think that everywhere we ride bikes in Phoenix is not only a threat to drivers and false-caring cyclists everywhere, but also a good example for bicyclists who are learning or who have no clue. I supremely appreciate my role as a teacher and role model of proper bicycle etiquette in the valley of the sun.

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  12. aylin DOT kanginnadhi AT gmail DOT com

    Lovely blog! Has been my daily read for a few months now :)

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  13. velolab (at) ymail.com


    Please, please, please. Would love to add it to my collection.

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  14. I would love to own a copy of this book.

    Wanderlust2b at yahoo dot com

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  15. I'd love a copy of the book,
    annladson@gmail.com

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  16. I love how Momentum magazine asked him twice what he likes to wear when he rides a bike and TWICE he has to say some polite version of "Do you know anything about me and what I do? I wear whatever I'm wearing. I don't wear special clothing to cycle."

    The whole reason he's being interviewed is because he promotes dressing for your destination, not your mode of transport.

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  17. ooh. I'd love a copy if you'd send to Australia!

    yvettemilenaking(at)hotmail(dot)com

    yvette

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  18. Cool book! I'm looking for a book that shows all the history of the Tour De France, any suggestions out there?

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  19. I think a book would be a great way to learn more about the bicycle scene in Copenhagen. However, I think it would be even better to check the book out at my local library. That way the book can be shared by more people, and it's content can be censored to the appropriate aged audience. After all we dont want to encourage hordes of senior citizens to go riding around like a bunch of hipsters do we? =)

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  20. Copenhagen Cycle Chic was one of the first blogs I started reading. I've even seen some of your comments on there. davidrestes at gmail . com

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  21. Beautiful book!
    Gruenhks AT muohio DOT edu

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  22. Have you already given it away? I'm ordering my bike though my workplace and it's taking forever! I won't get it til mid November at the earliest and I'm having to live vicariously through your blog (which I love) and the blogs I've found through you. It would be great for my boyfriend if I could join him on the sofa with this book instead of being glued to my seat at the computer!

    leafygreene@hotmail.com

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  23. I always forget something! This is open until tonight (Sunday night) midnight Pacific time.

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  24. Dave Talsma - You mean aside from this one? : )

    davidrestes - I discovered CCC and Copenhagenize a couple of months after starting my blog. I think it was via Riding Pretty, who used some of the images in her posts. I still comment occasionally on all of these blogs. I don't always agree with what Mikael CA has to say, or with the way he says it, but I am appreciative of the fact that he exists and sticks by his strong views. I also think it is only fair to credit him with the international recognition that Copenhagen has enjoyed as a result of his work.

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  25. Hey count me in! I'm always up for a free book! :) amyAThankypankyblogDOTnet

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  26. Checking in for Phoenix at: blueovalboy123 at hotmail dotcom

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  27. I'll try my hand at another contest:
    cherish48#gmail*com

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  28. This sounds like a great book. You can reach me at strathspeyreels AT yahoo DOT com.

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  29. I would like one.

    denikia"at"thefinestleaf"dot"com

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  30. "You mean aside from this one? : )"

    Argh. Don't remind me.

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  31. Just finished reading this blog from day one to today, very cool

    Jvera5522 'at' gmail 'dot' com

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  32. Jvera - Thank you / my condolences (as applicable)!

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  33. Frits B said...
    "Following the example of American author Shirley Agudo about Dutch cycling culture: http://bicycle-mania.nl/"


    I will try to review that one next. Should make for an interesting comparison.

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  34. I would enjoy reading this very much. Please include me in the drawing.

    luckychow99 AT gmail dot com

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  35. This book looks fabulous! I would love to get a chance to read it.

    puck AT timmythesnake DOT com

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  36. Ooh me!
    Laura.a.ring at G mail dot com

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  37. Velouria - I'm certainly not as into the biking world as you, but I'm pretty certain that Copenhagen was widely recognized as a great biking city before those blogs. I studied abroad there in 2006 and whenever I told people that they always asked if I rode a bike.

    Which I did, of course. I loved leaving my apartment building on bike and beating my friends who were taking public transportation to the bars. I once saw a man in a business suit biking, eating a sandwich and talking on his cell phone all at the same time. The Danes love their biking.

    brian dot lessels at gmail

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  38. Hmm, I wonder if I'll win? I haven't been to Copenhagen for over 15 years, but I wish I had thought to rent a bike at the time!

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  39. This looks like a great book. I check the Copenhagen blogs often. Just to wish I was there--at least in the summer months. I've seen a bit of the European Bike Culture in Amsterdam, Paris and Antwerp. I only wish we imported more of that feeling to American.
    Love your blog. Looked for you at Interbike. I guess I needed to check in at Boxcycles more often.
    Catch me at chasdbruceAThotmailDOT com or
    at google.

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  40. mountainlaurel3 - I think that's debatable. My impression was that Amsterdam was widely known for its cycling, but that far fewer people were familiar with Copenhagen.

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  41. Oh-- it looks beautiful!!! I'd love a chance for that book :D

    bjlkt2@gmail.com

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  42. Love your blog. I'm new to cycling and it's been a great resource for me.

    I'm definitely interested in winning this book too. :)

    Thanks, Erin
    erinsauce AT gmail DOT com

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  43. Please throw my name into the hat! heidils AT gmaildotcom

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  44. would it be inappropriate to say this might be bike porn? just sayin.. I would LOVE to have this book.

    aycarroll AT gmail.com

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  45. Benashee - Well, I assure you it's uncensored : )

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  46. I'm a newbie in the cycling world and I love to travel, so this book looks to be a great mix of both loves! (Although Copenhagen is already on the travel bucket list anyway...) I'd love to check out this book too: happyhappymailbox at gmail dot com

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  47. Entries are closed and I will announce the recipient in a bit - thanks very much!

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  48. Update: The book goes to Sue (October 9, 2011 7:56 AM). Thank you everyone for taking part!

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  49. Thank you Velouria. I'm thrilled - can't wait to read this book. I'm familiar with Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic, but I don't follow or read these blogs on a regular basis (so many blogs, so little time) so this book will definitely be a fresh topic for me to read.

    Thanks again.
    Sue

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  50. Hi there,

    I have two brand new copies of this book available. I had them imported from Denmark. Please contact me if you would like to purchase one at my cost. Thanks!

    vitaminwater (at) gmail

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