Pedal Power: How One Community Became the Bicycle Capital of the World by Allen Drummond

Published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Summary:  Forty years ago, the Dutch city of Amsterdam had streets clogged with traffic, dangerous to anyone attempting to ride a bicycle.  How did it become the capital city of bicyclists, home to more bikes than cars?  Back in the 1970’s a young mother named Maartje Rutten watched beautiful old buildings being destroyed to make room for more highways, roads that were dangerous for her and friends who wanted to bicycle with their kids.  She began organizing protests, blocking the roads with demonstrations and even parties.  The fun turned serious when she met Vic Langenhoff, a reporter whose young daughter was killed by a car while biking to school.  The two joined forces, and their steady pressure on the government resulted in fewer cars, more bicycles, and safer streets.  Amsterdam has served as a model for making streets bike-friendly in other cities around the world like Tokyo and New York.  An author’s note tells more about Maartje Rutten and her campaign and gives a brief bibliography.  Great cyclists from around the world are shown on the endpapers.  40 pages; ages 4-10.

Pros:  Just in time for Earth Day, another inspiring environmental story from Allen Drummond, nicely illustrated with his cartoon-style watercolors.

Cons:  Kids may have to be led to this book, as the subject matter might not grab them right away.

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