When Pete Jordan arrives in Amsterdam to study how to make America’s cities more bicycle-friendly, he immediately falls in love with the city that already lives life on two wheels. His new bride, Amy Joy, joins Pete, and despite their financial hardships and instability, she eventually finds her own new calling as a bicycle mechanic as Pete discovers the untold history of cycling in Amsterdam.
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 citywide resistance to the Nazi occupation to the White Bikes of the 1960s and the bike fishermen of today, Jordan chronicles the evolution of Amsterdam’s cycling.
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.
“In the City of Bikes is a funny, engaging and exhaustively researched tribute to Amsterdam's unique biking history. But more than that, In the City of Bikes is a portrait of one man's obsession. [. . .] Jordan is an honest, self-effacing narrator, and there's much that's lovably comic about his inauguration into Amsterdam cyclo-culture. [. . .] In the City of Bikes is an insightful book. And it's an especially enjoyable one for anyone who's ever thought the world would be a better place if more people rode bikes to work — and if they rode them to the hospital to deliver their babies too.” –Los Angeles Times
“Jordan brings depth and color to a niche subject, delivering an engaging cultural history.” –Publishers Weekly
“Jordan produces some truly laugh-out-loud moments. . . . History that doesn’t feel like history—just an enjoyable story from start to finish.” --Kirkus Reviews
“A charming and quirky book…. Jordan’s portrait of bicycle culture in Amsterdam gives a fascinating account of a viable alternative to dependence on cars.” –Christian Science Monitor
“Jordan applies an anthropological eye to the city’s two-wheeler culture. Pedaling through the bike-clogged streets on a ‘lumbering and sluggish’ single-speeder he nicknames Brownie, Jordan notes everything from the Dutch capacity to carry huge loads while cycling to the practice known as ‘dinking’ — couples doubling up on a single bike. He amusingly documents the transition of his wife from a dilettante who can barely patch a tire to the owner of her own bicycle shop. And he rails against the impunity enjoyed by the city’s zwijntjesjagers — an army of professional bike thieves.” –New York Times
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 has lived in Amsterdam since 2002.