CultureBooks & Media

David Byrne: Talking Head on Two Wheels

In his new travelogue, Bicycle Diaries (Viking, $26), celebrated musician/artist/writer David Byrne talks about rethinking cities around the bike—and reveals that one has been his primary mode of transportation for 30 years, both at home and abroad. JEREMY SPENCER picks the brain of the world's coolest bike-commuting advocate.

OUTSIDE: Do you find that daily riding is good for you physically and mentally?

David Byrne

David Byrne

BYRNE: Absolutely. There's a feeling of exhilaration and a little bit of an adrenaline high. That, I suspect, is what got me into it, not the green or do-good aspect.

How is it getting around in New York?
I think of errands and meetings in terms of how long it might take me to get there by bike, which is often far shorter than on bus or subway, cheaper than a cab, and a million times easier than getting around this city in a car.

Will the U.S. ever be a cycling country?
U.S. cities are transforming—but ever so slowly. I see dead industry on riverfronts as future lofts, arts centers, parks, and paths. I see snarled traffic as an incentive to consider other ways of getting around. A third of the work force in Copenhagen gets around on bikes, but even the Danes didn't believe that they'd take to biking as much as they have.

What's your favorite part of riding?
I shouldn't admit this, but when I'm alone on a secure bike path, I listen to music on my headphones, and it's the perfect soundtrack. Sometimes I sing along or practice harmony vocals. I hope no one hears me.

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.
Contribute to Outside
Filed To: CelebritiesBiking
Lead Photo: courtesy of Todomundo
More Culture