David Byrne: Bicycle Diaries

David Byrne is a renowned musician, visual artist, author, and most famously, the former lead singer for the music group Talking Heads. He also happens to be a bicycle advocate who has used a bicycle as his primary means of transport in New York City for nearly 30 years. His new book, Bicycle Diaries, is a chronicle of his experiences riding his bicycle through New York City and a number of other major cities around the world. From DavidByrne.com:

Since 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.

I recently received a pre-release copy of Bicycle Diaries. I’ve only just skimmed the book, but what I’ve read so far is fascinating. Bicycle Diaries is due to be published on September 21; I plan to finish the book before then and follow up with a short review here.

Bicycle Diaries

6 Responses to “David Byrne: Bicycle Diaries”

  • jim whaley says:

    thanks so much for the notice on byrne’s upcoming book. I have ordered it and ‘arboretum’. will look forward to your review.

  • brent hammond says:

    I’ve been a big David Byrne fan for many, many years, and I have really been looking forward to this book since it was announced. Great photo, btw. I’m a bit surprised it isn’t on your Flickr stream.

  • Gussy says:

    Ooher that looks interesting. I just finished reading Pedaling Revolution: How cyclists are changing American Cities by Jeff Mapes. Good read, would highly recommend it. It has a bit of the political background to how some groups got started and what different people are saying about cycling in different cities. Overall very interesting and got me more committed to cycling.

  • ToddBS says:

    I’ll have to add this to my reading list. I’ve always like DB; I still have my “Stop Making Sense” cassette tape. “True Stories” will always be a classic movie.

  • Joe says:

    More Byrne and Bicycles here at

  • EcoVelo » Blog Archive » David Byrne on NPR says:

    […] Byrne is on tour promoting his new book, Bicycle Diaries. He stopped by the NPR studios this weekend to chat with Jacki Lyden for Weekend Edition […]

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