Start reading Straphanger on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here or start reading now with a free Kindle Reading App.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

 
 
 

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile
 
 

Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile [Kindle Edition]

Taras Grescoe
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

Print List Price: £16.99
Kindle Price: £5.89 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
You Save: £11.10 (65%)
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £5.89  
Hardcover £14.01  
Paperback --  
Earn a Free Kindle Book
Earn a Free Kindle Book
Buy a Kindle book between now and 31 March and receive a promotional code good for one free Kindle book. Terms and conditions apply. Learn more


Product Description

Review

"All the cities we admire most in the world--the places young people want to live--boast great public transit systems or are in the process of building them. Taras Grescoe explains why: there's nothing more civilized than a great subway, or a bus rapid transit system, or a squad of ferries, or any of the other ways we've learned to move ourselves around urban space. As this splendid account makes clear, a car isn't liberation: not needing a car is liberation!"--Bill McKibben, author "Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet""Grescoe presents a strong and timely argument for moving metropolitan motorists away from their cars."--"Publishers Weekly""" ["Straphanger"] is rife with bits of interesting trivia, and it almost reads like a travelogue as the author revels in the wonders of his diverse destinations. With a smooth, accessible narrative style...each chapter is packed with important information... A captivating, convincing case for car-free--or at least car-reduced--cities."--"Kirkus""Entertaining and illuminating...Grescoe's adventurous, first-person inspection of the world's latest high-tech transit systems keeps readers engaged while underscoring the importance of developing greener forms of transportation."--"Library Journal"

Product Description

Taras Grescoe rides the rails all over the world and makes an elegant and impassioned case for the imminent end of car culture and the coming transportation revolution

"I am proud to call myself a straphanger," writes Taras Grescoe. The perception of public transportation in America is often unflattering—a squalid last resort for those with one too many drunk-driving charges, too poor to afford insurance, or too decrepit to get behind the wheel of a car. Indeed, a century of auto-centric culture and city planning has left most of the country with public transportation that is underfunded, ill maintained, and ill conceived. But as the demand for petroleum is fast outpacing the world's supply, a revolution in transportation is under way.

Grescoe explores the ascendance of the straphangers—the growing number of people who rely on public transportation to go about the business of their daily lives. On a journey that takes him around the world—from New York to Moscow, Paris, Copenhagen, Tokyo, Bogotá, Phoenix, Portland, Vancouver, and Philadelphia—Grescoe profiles public transportation here and abroad, highlighting the people and ideas that may help undo the damage that car-centric planning has done to our cities and create convenient, affordable, and sustainable urban transportation—and better city living—for all.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 631 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0805091734
  • Publisher: Times Books (24 April 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0071VUU3I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #563,649 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?


More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Customer Reviews

5 star
0
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
0
4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By takingadayoff TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Taras Grescoe introduces Strap Hanger with two thoughts - Salvador Dali's opinion that anyone over forty who still rides the Metro is a loser and Margaret Thatcher's belief that anyone over twenty-six who rides the bus is a failure.

It's hard to argue, especially with Thatcher, at least when it comes to America. Riding the bus is something that no one does in most of this country unless they can't afford a car or are prohibited by law or by infirmity, from driving a car. Even Grescoe admits he hates riding the bus. Every year, when the insurance bill and registration renewal bills come, I calculate if we can dump the car completely. Take the bus? Rent a Zipcar? Bicycle? Walk? Every year, we pay the renewals and keep the car. It's just too inconvenient to do without, if you have a choice.

But Grescoe envisions cities that make it too inconvenient to have a car, so convenient to take mass transit, that having a car is an unthinkable hassle.

It's not impossible - many cities have done it, and not just socialist European cities and ultra modern Asian metropolises. New York counts as a success story. Hardly any Manhattanites bother with a car for trips within Manhattan. But there are failures as well. Grescoe doesn't dwell on them, but does point up one spectacular failure - Phoenix - as a cautionary example. Phoenix fails in so many ways, as Andrew Ross shows in his book, Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World's Least Sustainable City.

Strap Hanger looks at mass transit city by city, rather than by type of transit. Grescoe is not so much a champion for particular mass transit systems, as he is for creating communities that work.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a joyful missive of transportation 13 May 2012
By Shannon B Davis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I feel so fortunate for the opportunity to read this book. As a longtime fan of James Howard Kunstler's writings about suburbia and the automobile, Straphanger was a similarly inspiring text, only without some of the derisiveness that Kunstler exhibits in his writing. I live in the hometown of the MBTA, in a city cut apart by a highway and that has been struggling for decades to get a transportation extension through our town. I have owned a home here for seven years, and the planned subway station two blocks from our house isn't even close to breaking ground. Yet, I can see just how desperately it is needed. So I am a huge fan of public transportation. But I was beginning to lose faith in it, seeing only how it could be late, smelly, crowded. This book gives one hope. Some countries DO do it right. It can be done.

I was also inspired so much - as was the author - by the way he wrote about the Danish! I am newly inspired to get a bike for those journeys that are a bit to far to walk. In fact, I can't stop thinking about Copenhagen! I love this idea that elderly people are fit enough to bike around town. I bet their health care costs are very low. I'm amazed they do all this with nordic winters - to the point where I am now disappointed in myself, as a New Englander, I take my car in winter almost every time I leave the house, because I don't like walking in the cold and ice. And these people are biking in it!

A great book on public transportation and how we can live happily without the automobile. Written by a travel writer, it's also quite an interesting way to learn about other places and mindsets. As he travels the rails (underground, light, etc), he talks to other passengers and learns more about the people in each place.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Journalism 17 April 2012
By Ken C. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
An amalgam of journalistic feature writing, travel writing, history writing, and persuasive writing, STRAPHANGER is a State of the Mass Transit Union speech worth heeding. Author Taras Grescoe takes readers to 13 cities -- Shanghai, New York City, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Paris, Copenhagen, Moscow, Tokyo, Bogota, Portland (OR), Vancouver, Philadelphia, and Montreal. Here he provides a history of each city's mass transit, where they stand now in their progress (or lack thereof) of moving people quickly, conveniently, and relatively cheaply, where they hope to go in the future, and what (and who) are the obstacles.

To achieve this, Grescoe meets key personalities of the mass transit scene in each city, interviews them, and weaves their words into the chapters. He rides buses, subways, bicycles, bullet trains, and electric trams, describes the experience, and gives us a feel for what it would be like to live in each of these cities today (consider it a scouting report if any of them are on your radar as possible places to move to). He builds a passionate, yet reasonable and realistic, argument against the automobile. He identifies freeways as the nooses that strangle cities, destroy neighborhoods, undercut attempts to resuscitate urban life. He celebrates the renaissance of city living, the fact that the post-Baby Boomer generation is migrating back to urban centers and questioning the "American Dream" known as the "suburb."

In fact, even those approaching retirement with a gated community in the suburbs in mind as a final home might reconsider after reading STRAPHANGERS. There's a certain appeal, a certain charm, to thriving, safe neighborhoods in a city that include easy access to trustworthy, clean, and safe public transportation, with all one's shopping needs within miles of your home. If this sounds unrealistic, Grescoe's description of cities like Tokyo, Copenhagen, and many others not mentioned in chapter headings (Strasbourg, for instance) proves that a "Brave New World" for mass transit is not some pipe dream. In fact, it is a reality in many places -- right here in 2012. Leaders in these progressive cities understand that the long-term approach of financing mass transit is worth every penny, that revenues poured into highways are lost monies which only add to our traffic, pollution, and health woes.

As you might expect, there are good guys and bad guys in this picture -- and many in between. Read STRAPHANGER, and you'll find out where you stand in this picture. Grescoe writes as well as he rides. As a fiction reader, I was pleasantly surprised with my commute through these pages. Hopefully, you will be, too.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Any man of 40 who still rides the Metro is a loser." Salvador Dali 13 Mar 2012
By takingadayoff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Taras Grescoe introduces Strap Hanger with two thoughts - Salvador Dali's opinion that anyone over forty who still rides the Metro is a loser and Margaret Thatcher's belief that anyone over twenty-six who rides the bus is a failure.

It's hard to argue, especially with Thatcher, at least when it comes to America. Riding the bus is something that no one does in most of this country unless they can't afford a car or are prohibited by law or by infirmity, from driving a car. Even Grescoe admits he hates riding the bus. Every year, when the insurance bill and registration renewal bills come, I calculate if we can dump the car completely. Take the bus? Rent a Zipcar? Bicycle? Walk? Every year, we pay the renewals and keep the car. It's just too inconvenient to do without, if you have a choice.

But Grescoe envisions cities that make it too inconvenient to have a car, so convenient to take mass transit, that having a car is an unthinkable hassle.

It's not impossible - many cities have done it, and not just socialist European cities and ultra modern Asian metropolises. New York counts as a success story. Hardly any Manhattanites bother with a car for trips within Manhattan. But there are failures as well. Grescoe doesn't dwell on them, but does point up one spectacular failure - Phoenix - as a cautionary example. Phoenix fails in so many ways, as Andrew Ross shows in his book, Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World's Least Sustainable City.

Strap Hanger looks at mass transit city by city, rather than by type of transit. Grescoe is not so much a champion for particular mass transit systems, as he is for creating communities that work. The mass transit systems should grow from the community, not the other way around. If it doesn't fit, people won't use it, as is the case with Phoenix's light rail.

Strap Hanger is not what I would call a fun read, but it's important and it does include some interesting tidbits among the crunchy ideas. For instance, Grescoe gets a tour of the mysterious City Hall Station in New York, closed in 1945 and now a ghost stop, eerily majestic with its Gaudi-esque design.

Only a decade ago, Taras Grescoe was writing books like The Devil's Picnic: Travels Through the Underworld of Food and Drink and The End of Elsewhere: Travels Among the Tourists. He's gone from writing about hiking the Pilgrim's Trail backwards and where to find absinthe to authoring earnest books about important topics such as how to eat ethically and not destroy the planet with fossil fuels. As much as I admire his progress to more mature subjects, I do miss the irreverent, irresponsible Taras.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ten stars Wonderful informative book 8 Mar 2012
By Elizabeth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is one of those rare books that you read, then read again and then again, because there is so much information to soak up that each time to read the book you pick up more information you missed the time before.

Started reading this excellent book the same week various newspapers here in California were reporting on the fight to NOT fund mass transit rail system from northern California to Los Angeles, which would actually help with pollution, as well as get someone from here in Sacramento or San Francisco to Los Angeles in a few hours vs and all day drive.

And then I kept thinking while reading of the excellent mass transit options in places like Paris, Tokyo and even Moscow how far behind most of America is when it comes to 21st century transportation. Even reading of Trans Milenco in Bogata Colombia I was impressed. Same with mass transit in Montreal Quebec. Denmark is also way ahead of the game. Copenhagen Denmark where the Lego was birthed.

One of my favorite people in the book is Mikael Colville-Andersen from Copenhagen who has an online blog copenhagencyclechic.com. Love how he notes that how the Danes bike rider is a bit different from the bike rider in NYC, San Francisco. In Denmark women ride bikes wearing dresses and nice shoes, or bundled up in winter. They sit up straight where their center of gravity is in the same place as when walking. The reason I appreciated reading this is because its a good reminder to get a bike that fits you. From the seat to the height of the handlebars. It will prevent a plethora of body pain, from backs that hurt to arms that feel like they have lugged a ton of weight up a flight of stairs.

The author then writes 'I was reminded of how seamless and pleasant overland travel could be as I embarked on a 1,0000 mile journey from Paris to Copenhagen. Checking out of my Left Bank hotel late one morning, I trundled my wheeled suitcase around the corner to a metro station, and rode to Gàre se l'Est, where I bought a ticket for a train a grande vitesse, the TGV, France's bullet train.....Two and 20 minutes after leaving, we pulled into Strasbourg's train station, only a minute behind schedule, which meant we had averaged 105 miles per hour. Then she writes how there are more bike than citizens in Copenhagen. How I look forward to this becoming the norm in ALL the major American cities.

But it's the authors wonderful narrative that holds your attention.From describing the Dostoyevskaya station in Moscow with its line 10 wall size portrait of the author of Crime and Punishment. Or when writing about Paris he
writes 'Paris,simply put, was saved by the mètro' and then the visual he paints with words, that make you feel as if you are there, in the moment soaking in the sites,sounds and flavours of this wonderful city.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solutions to automobile dependency 26 Feb 2012
By Malvin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Straphanger" by Taras Grescoe is an exceptionally well-written book that explores how we might revive our cities by breaking our addiction to the automoble through greater investments in public transportation. Mr. Grescoe, who has happily never owned a car, visits eleven cities around the world to assess their transit systems first-hand. Sharing his personal experiences including interactions with civil engineers, community activists, politicians, fellow passengers and others, Mr. Grescoe delivers a highly engaging, informative and fascinating book.

As a successful travel writer, Mr. Grescoe has a keen eye of observation, sharing details about what he sees and experiences around him. Whether he is contemplating a smog-shrouded California vista, enjoying a gypsy-klezmer band in the streets of Portald, or sandwiched into immobility on a Japanese commuter train, Mr. Grescoe has a knack for vividly rendering the scene for us. Providing plenty of context about the places he visits, Mr. Grescoe helps us understand how various transportation choices have been made by diverse communities, for better or worse.

For example, Mr. Grescoe shares that Los Angeles ironically first became a sprawl city thanks to its early 20th century electric car system only to later become gridlocked by cars; but is now redeveloping its transit system to breathe new life into aging urban districts such as downtown Hollywood and to better serve its growing working-class population. Similarly, Moscow, New York and Paris are cited as examples of cities that had developed world-class transit systems but were later compromised by a preference for the automobile; however, lately these cities have renewed their commitments to mass transit. Elsewhere, Mr. Grescoe finds that in Copenhagen, bicycles have improved fitness levels while creating a more liveable city; Japan has concentrated development along its rail lines, reducing car ownership and nurturing more peaceful neighborhoods; Bogota has reduced pollution and street congestion with its relatively low-cost, innovative bus services; and so on. The author effectively uses these case studies to persuade us that quality of life improves when people have access to afforable transportation solutions.

On the other hand, Mr. Grescoe cites the metropolitan area of Phoenix, Arizona as an example of the limitations of automobile dependency. Mr. Grescoe describes how thousands of foreclosed homes sit empty, turning significant parts of the suburban landscape into latter-day western ghost towns. In this case, Mr. Grescoe sees the failings of influential 20th century Americans such as Frank Lloyd Wright whose elitist thinking led to a myopic embrace of detached, automobile-centric subdivisions as substitutes for real community. Fortunately, Mr. Grescoe finds hope in a new generation of Americans who are settling in places like downtown Philadelphia and Montreal precisely for their cultural diversity and access to the kind of public transportation systems that can enable them to spend less time and money on commuting; and more on living in inclusive and democratic spaces.

I highly recommend this timely, eye-opening and insightful book to everyone.
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions
   


Look for similar items by category