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Bicycle Diaries


"Reading Bicycle Diaries makes cosmic indifference a lot easier to deal with."
The Seattle Times

Bicycle Diaries CoverSince the early 1980s, David has been riding a bike as his principal means of transportation in New York City. Two decades ago, he discovered folding bikes and started taking them with him when travelling around the world. DB's choice was initially made out of convenience rather than political motivation, but the more cities he saw from his bicycle, the more he became hooked on this mode of transport and the sense of liberation, exhilaration, and connection it provided. This point of view, from his bike seat, became his panoramic window on urban life, a magical way of opening one’s eyes to the inner workings and rhythms of a city’s geography and population.

Bicycle Diaries chronicles David’s observations and insights — what he is seeing, whom he is meeting, what he is thinking about — as he pedals through and engages with some of the world’s major cities. In places like Buenos Aires, Istanbul, San Francisco, and London, the focus is more on the musicians and artists he encounters. Politics comes to the fore in cities like Berlin and Manila, while chapters on New York City, and on the landscaped suburban industrial parks and contemporary ruins of such spots as Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Columbus are more concerned with history in the urban landscape. Along the way, DB has thoughts to share about fashion, architecture, cultural isolation, globalization, and the radical new ways that some cities, like his home town, are becoming more bike-friendly — all conveyed with a highly personal mix of humor, curiosity, and humanity.


spacer Edition: spacer Publisher: spacer Release date:spacer
spacer Serbia: Biciklistički dnevnici   Geopoetika   July 2009
spacer United Kingdom: Bicycle Diaries   Faber & Faber   5 August 2009
      Order: Faber & Faber, Amazon
spacer United States: Bicycle Diaries   Viking / Penguin   17 September 2009
     Order: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Indie Bound
spacer Canada: Bicycle Diaries   Viking / Penguin   22 September 2009
     Order: Amazon
spacer Brazil: Diários de Bicicleta   Manole   November 2009
spacer Russia:записки велосипедиста   Amphora   December 2009
spacer The Netherlands: Op de Fiets   Thomas Rap / De Bezige Bij   28 January 2010
spacer Croatia: Biciklisticki Dnevnik   Planetopija   March 2010
  Portugal: Diário da Bicicleta   Quetzal   April 2010
spacer Italy: Diari della Bicicletta   Bompiani   June 2010
spacer Argentina, Chile, Spain, Uruguay: Diarios de Bicicleta   Random House Mondadori   May 2011
spacer Poland: Dzienniki Rowerowe   Wydawnictwo WAB   April 2011
spacer Germany   Fischer   Fall 2011
  France   Seuil   May 2011
  South Korea   Bada   TBD
  Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela: Diarios de Bicicleta   Sexto Piso   July 2011
For foreign rights and reprints, please contact The Wylie Agency.

View larger map


"I don't know if anybody has come up with anything better that makes you feel like you're floating on your power, through an urban landscape. It's exhilarating."
The Wall Street Journal, 30 November 2010
"Inspired by years of listening to public radio, he decided to produce each chapter like a piece of audio art."
Soundcheck: Live from the Green Space, with John Schaeffer, WNYC, 28 September 2010
"Byrne, the former Talking heads front-man, talks about why he likes bicycling in Rochester. I'm excited because I like bicycling in Rochester, too."
Rochester City Paper, 2 September 2010
"'The bike station in Millennium Park is impressive,' he says. 'You can shower there. You can even shower with your bike, if you feel really close to your bike.'"
NewCity, 22 June 2010
"'We must kill the street,' he said, and it did come true.'"
Fast Company, 20 May 2010
"The sprawl is fascinating — like ogling something bizarre and grotesque…"
Creative Loafing, 18 May 2010
"It was... a series of presentations: a mish-mash of slides and maps and witticisms that formed a quirky ode to that too-often forgotten means of stitching together our fragmented cities: the bicycle."
The Boston Phoenix, 10 March 2010
"Clearly, we have to learn to coexist, because bikes aren't going anywhere. Rather, they seem to be going everywhere."
The Philadelphia Inquirer, 22 February 2010
"Biking à la Byrne means ecology, geekiness, a way of piercing into the world: skateboarding for the cerebral, if you like."
Barnes & Noble, 2009
"You can kind of get this sense of the way a city is organized, either from the top down or from the bottom up, or from the way it just kind of evolves by accident, or by design — all those kind of things you start to notice because they are visceral. You can tell whether it feels alive, or if it feels like all the life has been sucked out of it."
PBS News Hour, 11 December 2009
"...the curiosity and the engagement he brings to the subject are as evident here as in his other artistic works."
The New Yorker, 30 November 2009
"Bicycle Diaries reads very much like a leisurely ride, full of brief, thoughtful observations that open a window onto the thinking process of a restless artistic spirit."
PopMatters, 25 November 2009
"Part flâneur, part Zen master, Byrne's writings feel like haiku for urbanists."
Planetizen, 23 November 2009
"Our perception of urban living is changing."
The Toronto Star, 23 October 2009
"I just look at things and go ‘um'
The Globe and Mail, 23 October 2009

"It's not a tedious cycling manifesto or urban prescriptive; rather, it's an intensely personal look at how cycling has shaped one artist's life."
National Post, 20 October 2009
"At its heart, Bicycle Diaries speaks of Byrne’s desire to understand community, how people interact — what defines aesthetics and perceptions of art, success, happiness, and modern life."
The MIT Tech, 16 October 2009
"We’re not Copenhagen yet, but maybe someday we’ll get there: 'Little by little,' he says, legs churning. 'It’s not going to be something overnight.'"
The New York Times - City Room (+ video), 13 October 2009
"...you're engaged in this other activity that allows those connections to be made that might not seem logical or sensible at first. And then, and you go, oh yeah, look, there is a connection."
NPR Weekend Edition (+ audio), 4 October 2009
"They're charming, they're floating...little floating whorehouses. There's a sign that says 'Hold Your Child's Hand.'"
SF Streets Blog, 30 September 2009
"His bicycle use is a sort of departure point for his perspectives on modern life..."
The Kansas City Star, 28 September 2009
"Byrne's reflections are as varied as the countries he visits..."
The Washington Post, 27 September 2009
"But I say no, no, no / and didn’t you know / you get to know things better when they go by slow."
Chicago Sun-Times, 27 September 2009
"Above all, his bedrock respect for the dignity of the human spirit and the fascination with what human beings can create, wherever it can be found, shine through every page."
The Daily Kos, 27 September 2009
"Byrne can be a very shrewd and droll observer. [...] The book, then, is partly about cycling but also about whatever Byrne happens to have on his mind at the time, and fortunately a lot of it is quite interesting."
The New York Times Book Review, 25 September 2009
“We’ve gone through eight or ten years of a bully culture — on Wall Street, in politics. I think we’re turning a corner."
Streets Blog, 24 September 2009
"When you're on a bike, you start wondering about basic things like, 'Why is that like that? Why is that part of town the way it is? Why is the advertising you see the way it is?' You notice more, and you can range pretty far once you get on a tangent."
Chicago Tribune, 24 September 2009
"Byrne's eclectic, energetic spirit imbues the book with depth in addition to affirming the eccentricities of would-be bike advocates everywhere."
The Portland Mercury, 24 September 2009
"...finally one grasps the existential message that anchors the whole thing, that life and death are essentially meaningless. [...] [R]eading Bicycle Diaries makes cosmic indifference a lot easier to deal with."
The Seattle Times, 23 September 2009
"...the hydraulic-limbed Byrne is a plain but keen stylist. [...] Here's to hoping his kindly manifesto becomes the Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance of a new generation."
The Cleveland Plain Dealer, 22 September 2009
"The rock star who sang about burning buildings, highways and life during wartime turns out to be an acute observer of the urban condition, a veritable rolling philosopher."
The Miami Herald, 22 September 2009
"From music to films to art to the Internet to books, the singer of "Psycho Killer" has become a public intellectual."
Los Angeles Times, 21 September 2009
"We’ve known for a long time that he possessed a quizzical mind; more shocking is discovering here how wholesome it is, too."
The New York Times, 20 September 2009
"Bicycling is like a religion to Byrne, a symbol of his wide-eyed eternal youth, and also a kind of therapy."
New York Magazine, 20 September 2009
"Whether you're a cyclist or not, Byrne's insights into everything from outsider art to aboriginal folk lore [...] are wry, witty, and, more often than not, wise as well."
The Philadelphia Inquirer, 20 September 2009
"As a free thinker, he doesn't always land in places that I agreed with, but his paths were enjoyable and provocative, not to mention quirky and personal."
San Francisco Chronicle, 20 September 2009
"It's a political and philosophical travelogue tied together by Byrne's bike rides in cities, from Niagara Falls to San Francisco, London to Manila."
USA TODAY, 17 September 2009
"Newcomers will enjoy these off-the-cuff sketches from an unpretentious cultural polymath; acolytes will cherish a closer look at Byrne’s weird, wonderful brain chemistry."
Time Out New York, 17 September 2009
"I cycled when I was at high school, then reconnected with bikes in New York in the late 70s..."
Audio interview, The Guardian (UK), 13 August 2009
"...it's about the surface that presents itself to us in cities, and I dig a little bit deeper than the surface."
The Guardian (UK), 13 August 2009
"It may not tell you much about cycling, but the Talking Head's discursive travelogue is hugely entertaining."
The Observer, 2 August 2009
"...this is a loving tribute to the bicycle and world travel."
Booklist, 1 August 2009
"We eavesdrop as he dodges underage prostitutes in Manila, talks conceptual art with Grayson Perry in London, and breaks down in tears in the Australian desert. Perpetually curious, boyishly keen and open to new experiences, he comes across like a post-punk Michael Palin."
The Times [UK], 1 August 2009
"Candid and self-deprecating, Byrne offers a work that is as engaging as it is cerebral and informative."
Publishers Weekly, 13 July 2009


"A Talking Head Dreams of a Perfect City": DB article, The Wall Street Journal, 11 September 2009
Bike charity auction: DB's Montague folding bike - auctioned to benefit the London Cycling Campaign
"Bike Messenger: 'Pedaling Revolution - How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities' by Jeff Mapes": DB article, The New York Times Book Review, 28 May 2009
"How New Yorkers Ride Bikes: Taking it to the Bike Lanes": The Globe and Mail, 8 October 2007
Bike forum @ Town Hall: DB Journal entry & helmet cam video, 7 October 2007
Some bike-related journal entries

Biking & urban planning links:
Transportation Alternatives
Gehl Architects
EMBARQ The WRI Center for Sustainable Transport
Institute for Transportation & Development Policy
New York City Department of Transportation
Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy
London Cycling Campaign


For foreign rights and reprints, please contact The Wylie Agency.
For publicity and interview requests, please contact Sacks & Co.


• Hardcover Published by Viking, 2009
• Cover design: Paul Buckley
• Cover drawing & art direction: DB
• Interior design: Daniel Lagin
• Penguin Editor: Paul Slovak
• Project management for DB: Danielle Spencer
• Image Licensing: Jane Shaw & Danielle Spencer
• Many many thanks to Scott Moyers at the Wylie Agency

Bicycle Drawing