David Byrne on bicycles, Atlanta’s sprawl and burying highways

‘I think the big bad wolf hasn’t come to Atlanta yet, but I suspect he will pay a visit pretty soon’

David Byrne started using a bicycle for his primary means of transportation in the 1980s. And what began as a simple way of getting around New York City turned into what he considers the best way to explore the world’s great (and not so great) cities.

In the Philippines, he stumbled into what he soon discovered was a bordello. In Detroit, he witnessed the manufacturing Mecca’s harsh decline as he pedaled past abandoned homes, factories and buildings. And in New York, his current home, he once almost collided with Paris Hilton and her ubiquitous miniature hound.

Last year, Byrne chronicled these experiences and observations — along with thoughts about how cities should change to accommodate more cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders — in his book The Bicycle Diaries. Read it and you’ll see he’s not just someone who enjoys casual rides, but is a lover of urban spaces.

On Wednesday, Byrne will join Georgia Tech professor Ellen Dunham-Jones, Glenwood Park developer Charles Brewer and former Buckhead Community Improvement District executive director Scotty Greene at the Tabernacle to discuss his endeavors and the way our cities are changing, for better or worse.

Tickets for the event, which kicks off this week’s Congress for New Urbanism conference here in Atlanta, can be purchased here.

Byrne — who was unable to join us for our first interview idea, a bicycle tour of Atlanta’s hectic, dangerous streets — was kind enough to answer some questions for us via email. All those are after the jump.