05 July 2015

The Library Bike

The cyclists I've known tended to read more than most other people.  Perhaps that's peculiar to the US, or the parts of it in which I've lived:  Here, cyclists who ride to work and for recreation are more likely to be college-educated professionals or creative people.  That is a contrast to much of the rest of the world, where blue-collar and lower-paid workers pedaled and the bicycle was abandoned as soon as a person could afford a car.

Whatever the reasons, I find myself discussing things that involve reading--whether writing, literature, history or other related subjects--with cyclists when I get to know them.  Some of us, I think, would love to combine the activities of reading and riding.  

Some of us have tried.  I used to have one of those wire stands that attached to the handlebars and held a book as you rode on your trainer or rollers.  The problem is that if we're readers, we read faster than we ride, no matter how well-conditioned we are.  So we can't pedal very many RPMs before we have to turn a page.  That's very difficult, especially if you're on rollers, even if you're very skilled at riding on them (which I was, once).  It's also not easy if you're doing a wind sprint and pedaling at, say, 200 RPMs.

The best most of us can do, I think, is to combine books and bikes rather than reading or writing.  Someone, it seems, at the Cleveland Public Library understands as much.  So he or she created a bookmobile that's pedaled into under-served neighborhoods:


The Book Bike contains three levels of shelving that can hold 260 pounds (!) of books. It even has bookmark, brochure and umbrella holders.  


The trike has a double parking brake, three speeds--and a white racing stripe on a snappy orange finish.  After all, a messenger--especially one bringing enlightenment and education--must be speedy!

(Note:  Although I have provided a link to the website on which I found these images, I have not used the name of that website, as it might offend some!)


  1. Boston Public Library does this with a bike trailer. It makes the rounds of farmers markets and public festivals. http://www.bpl.org/press/tag/bibliocycle/

  2. I don't really think cyclists read more or less than other people. You and I may, but that is a pretty tiny sampling.

  3. Steve--That's a good point. Maybe I just hang around the right (or wrong, depending on one's point of view) cyclists. Or, perhaps my reading and writing blogs skews my view.

    Ailish--That's interesting, It definitely makes sense for farmer's markets as well as libraries and public festivals. I respect anyone who can maneuver a vehicle like that in Boston traffic!