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Straphanger: Saving Our Cities And Ourselves From The Automobile (2012)

by Taras Grescoe(Favorite Author)
4.12 of 5 Votes: 2
0805091734 (ISBN13: 9780805091731)
Times Books
review 1: This book is full of case studies that boil down to this message: if you want to make your city a better place, walk, take transit or ride a bike. If where you live makes these things hard to do, or forces you to get in a car to get places, move. (Or advocate for better development, if you're the advocatin' kind.) An inspiring read for the bus or train, although at times it can be a barrage of figures and statistics and at other times, a little too rosy coloured. (His description and praise of my local transit authority in the book didn't quite match the reality I see.) If you're already on board, this book sings to your choir; the local letter writers who write to the local rags to demand tearing out the bike lanes to make proper room for cars will probably disagree wit... moreh it.
review 2: I'm giving this five stars because I would happily recommend it to both people who want to learn more about transit or find transit an interesting topic and readers who like a great anecdotal story rich with with history, facts and personal tips.I read a lot of reviews that panned this book for not being as informational about transit as it is advertised to be and that it was more a personal story on riding transit. While the book is heavy on personal story -- that was pointed out in his introduction that the purpose of the book was to highlight transit, but more specifically search out styles of transit-oriented neighbourhoods where people could raise families -- it is incredibly in depth with fact and figures. Each section comprises a history of how the neighbourhood got to where it was (whether good or bad) the stats of ridership and how transit affected the growing of communities. It also goes incredibly in depth in the history of the highway and freeway and interstate system in the US and the ironic twist that is cars and roads were built as symbols of freedom and cool, but had to pave over the actual communities and people that made the country cool.There are some obvious drawbacks, well for me. As mentioned by a friend, Grescoe can take on too much of a cheerleader mentality and it can take away from making crucial criticisms on certain transit systems. For me, I was particularly disappointed with his discussion on Vancouver transit. He would make such statements referring to the overt gentrification of neighbourhoods, the disjointed nature of the systems, high prices, and the use of very expensive systems, and brush them off as everyone loves Vancouver. As a former Vancouverite that argument is all too common -- making important points about fragmented systems and displaced people and the remarking 'the mountains are pretty and we have new condos'! Also, more research or fact checking should have been done in regards to the Woodwards building as "affordable housing" means $1000/month for single mother homes and also there is little mention of the renovictions that happen. Bike lanes do not suffice where there is no where for people to live!Okay. So after the rant, what was meant to say was that if these inconsistencies were glaring for me, I'm sure there were other cities that had the same notes and that is where the cheerleaderness gets annoying. A lot of people believe in public transit, for a lot of reasons, but it doesn't mean we have to see everything in roses. I think the best parts of the book were the ones where people gave mention to the progress and positives, but also stated where they wanted to go and what transit was meant to do.I thought Grescoe's writing was wonderful, even in spite of some relentless cheeriness :) He was clear and concise and very engaging and transparent at parts. The book did read like a love letter to transit and his favourite cities, but in a more complete sense to his wife and future kid. I thought the New York section dragged a bit, which was unfortunate because it took me a bit to get in to really reading to book, but once I finished the New York section (don't get me wrong, it was interesting, but just really, really long) I was off and going! The section on Denmark has convinced me to live there for sure!A lot of great points came out of this book for me, and if I ever see it (on sale) or for cheap in a bookstore I will snatch it up for sure! less
Reviews (see all)
Excellent look at how we could rely Les on automobiles.
Makes me want to move to the EU and live underground.
Fantastic book. Wish I'd written it!
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