As we learn in David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries, he’s been getting around on two wheels since the 80s; and in recent years he’s become a real advocate for cycling, not just as a good workout but as a key part of responsible urban planning. Plus, he suggests, you just might see more of the world around you that way.
Some people might say, well, if you’re famous, why not lend your name and influence to something really important, like fighting world hunger? But precisely what I like about Byrne’s advocacy of things like bike lanes is that it’s do-able. Fighting world hunger, disease, child abuse, poverty… these things are hugely important. They are also just plain HUGE. Sometimes you want to just throw up your hands and say, really, what can I do? Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, and the rest of the “We Are The World” gang sold all those records and raised all that money, but turning that cash into food and supplies and the distribution network needed to deliver it where it was most needed… well, that turned out to be a lot harder than getting everyone together to sing the song.
Of course we all need to continue to work on these things, but there are little things that we can actually do. Maybe we can’t reverse climate change, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and lessen the chances of coal mine disasters and oil-rig leaks in just a few years, but a long-term effort like that requires small successes along the way. So even though the whole bike thing may not be my cause, it is David Byrne’s, and I’m glad he’s decided to advocate for something where he might actually be able to effect change.
What musicians’ causes have appealed to you, and perhaps gotten you involved? Leave a comment.