University of Vermont

College of Arts and Sciences

A Scholar's Cycle

Dressed in period garb — knickers, vest, paperboy hat — Luis Vivanco mentions several downtown sites that figured in Burlington's bike history in the late 19th century. This stop at the top of Church Street was midway through a two-hour bike tour through town that Vivanco led May 18. / TIM JOHNSON/FREE PRESS

Tim Johnson, Burlington Free Press staff writer, recently profiled Anthropology Associate Professor Luis Vivanco and his new book, “Reconsidering the Bicycle,” which explores, among other things, the bicycle’s social history and its cultural context in various urban settings.

"It was a dank, drizzly Saturday morning about 9 o’clock, time for Luis Vivanco to do a trash run.

"This task falls to him about three times a month — hauling the family’s accumulated refuse and compost from their house on Brookes Avenue in Burlington to a drop-off center on Pine Street. It’s not a big deal, really. His family doesn’t produce much trash, and the trip, a little over a mile, doesn’t take him that long. He does the hauling by bicycle.

"He calls the elongated model he uses a cargo bike, but that doesn’t quite capture it. It has a long second seat that can carry a couple of kids. It allowed him and his wife to get rid of their second car, and it can do some things a car can’t do. He uses it to make smoothies, for example. Not on the trash run, though.

"Vivanco opened the door of the garage. The inside looked like an annex of the Old Spokes Home, which happens to be his favorite bike shop — about a dozen bikes of various sorts were hanging in there, some fancy, some cast-offs. Vivanco isn’t just a bike enthusiast. He’s a bike tinkerer.

"He’s also something of a bike scholar. As an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Vermont, he has made bicycles a research field. His latest book, “Reconsidering the Bicycle: An Anthropological Perspective on a New (Old) Thing,” just came out this spring and discourses on the bicycle culture in Burlington, Amsterdam and Bogota, among other places."

Continue reading the entire Burlington Free Press article here.

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