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City Cycling (Urban and Industrial Environments) Paperback – 6 Nov 2012
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"While City Cycling probably won't convince the most hard-core bike haters, it has the potential to help change the debate about how biking fits into the transportation system in countries such as the U.S., where it has traditionally been perceived as marginal. This thoroughly academic approach could be just what we need to move the conversation forward." Sarah Goodyear, "The Atlantic Cities"
While "City Cycling" probably won't convince the most hard-core bike haters, it has the potential to help change the debate about how biking fits into the transportation system in countries such as the U.S., where it has traditionally been perceived as marginal. This thoroughly academic approach could be just what we need to move the conversation forward.--Sarah Goodyear "The Atlantic Cities "
While City Cycling probably won't convince the most hard-core bike haters, it has the potential to help change the debate about how biking fits into the transportation system in countries such as the U.S., where it has traditionally been perceived as marginal. This thoroughly academic approach could be just what we need to move the conversation forward.--Sarah Goodyear "The Atlantic Cities "
About the Author
John Pucher is Professor in the Department of Urban Planning at the Bloustein School of Planning and Policy at Rutgers University. He is the coauthor of The Urban Transport Crisis in Europe and North America and The Urban Transportation System: Politics and Policy Innovation (MIT Press). Ralph Buehler is Assistant Professor in the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning in the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech.
Top Customer Reviews
The main theme sorts by cycle usage putting The Netherlands first followed by Denmark and Tokyo with Germany someway behind. Then there is a big gap to France and last the Anglo Saxon Countries (UK, USA and Australia). All countries show recent cycling growth that they promote although resources and methods vary. Much of the book is devoted to what works best. This should be treated with some caution as poor decisions provide poor returns. This brings to mind a quote from H L Menken, US Journalist (1880-1956), “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem: neat, plausible and wrong”.
The top 4 by usage have cycling rates 10 to 5 times that in London. What they also have is no gender or age bias. By contrast only 30% of UK cycle trips are by women and less than 1% by the over 65s.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
John Pucher and Ralph Buehler, the principle authors of City Cycling, aim to portray recent trends in cycling, identify the most effective measures for increasing cycling levels, improve safety, and make cycling possible for all segments of society (for those who are able). 16 of the 21 contributors have their doctorates; City Cycling is a wonky book, and does not pretend to be anything different. Nevertheless, the book is quite readable. It would easily hold the interest of any related academic, professional, student, or bicycle enthusiast.
The book is very comprehensive and full of detailed explanations, at 393 pages, including references. Here is a listing of the chapters, for those whose interests may be rather specific:
2. International overview: cycling trends in North America, Western Europe and Australia
3. Health Benefits of Cycling
4. Effective Speed: Cycling Because It's "Faster"
5. Developments in Bicycle Equipment and Its Role in Promoting Cycling as a Travel Mode
6. Bicycling Infrastructure for Mass Cycling: A Transatlantic Comparison
7. Cycling Safety
8. Integration of Cycling with Public Transportation
9. Bikesharing across the Globe
10. Women and Cycling
11. Children and Cycling
12. Cycling and Small Cities
13. Big City Cycling in Europe, North America and Australia
14. Cycling in Megacities: London, Paris, New York, and Tokyo
15. Promoting Cycling for Daily Travel: Conclusions and Lessons from across the Globe
As the chapters hint, much of the book compares the current state of cycling to Western Europe and Australia. As the authors state, "the most detailed analysis is for the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the countries for which the available statistics are most comparable." Select European cities, principally Copenhagen and Amsterdam, are rightly held up as models for North American and Australian cities to aspire to.
In its initial international comparisons, the book describes the current, relatively advanced state of cycling in Western Europe and later goes on to describe when and why Europe's pro-automobile policies were dramatically reversed towards cycling. The impacts of this reversal are then generally described.
The health benefits of cycling are addressed next, which is the subject I am most familiar with in this book. I was disappointed that the authors did not explicitly state that the health benefits are the largest single economic benefit gained from cycling. The chapter goes on to discuss social, mental, emotional and psychosocial benefits, all of which are more subjective by nature, and thus lack hard data. The high cost-benefit ratios (CBR) of health benefits (citing a literature review study that found an average ratio of 5:1) and their context are addressed, but I find the impact of the CBR findings to be understated.
The one other qualm I have, again comes from my own knowledge. Chapter 7, Cycling Safety, naturally follows the bicycle infrastructure chapter to discuss the safety impact of infrastructure designs. Best practices and their related statistics are described, which is consistent throughout the book, but some statistics are also left out, like the fact that cyclist injury rates are somewhat higher than motorist rates. I consider myself relatively well-informed with the specific facet of health and cycling, which gives me the ability to use outside knowledge for evaluation. These two inconsistencies do make me alert to any other omissions, but I do not doubt the authors' accuracy.
There is more than statistics and current practices; the book also includes historical information, which includes cycling's relationship to women, and the history of bikesharing. Women cyclers are very underrepresented in North America, and the authors state that improving safety (both perceived and actual) should be the primary concern of cities pursuing cycling. Safety is even more important for children, as is education on urban cycling. Minorities in biking are divided more by gender and age, not race. Thus, the most common association with minority, race, is not specifically addressed, though it is acknowledged that more bicycle infrastructure will lessen racial disparities.
The policies and successes of Davis, CA and Boulder, CO are detailed. The even greater success of small European cities is then fully explained, as they have unique natural advantages when it comes to utilitarian cycling. The following chapters on large cities and megacities follow a similar format to the small cities chapter. Each chapter compares the cities and examines the unique problems that different sized cities face, and their strategies to overcome those obstacles.
If you are still not convinced that you should pick up this book, that is because this is a review, and therefore short on mind-blowing specifics. Here are a couple Easter eggs I found:
`Effective speed' concludes that average cycling rates in most countries are actually faster than automobiles, once all the costs of vehicle ownership are accounted for. A second find was the reasonably-backed statement that helmet laws can actually have the perverse effect of increasing deaths.
City Cycling is a great resource for academics, professionals, students, and bicycle enthusiasts. The number of citations and their wide variety provide an excellent source of current and popular studies (which are separated by chapters, and thus subject) from two well-respected academics, as well as their notable collaborators. Civil engineers, transportation planners and similar professionals would likely benefit more; the best practices included are many and straightforward, and are presented in short table form, followed by detailed descriptions. Students like me would have a great comprehensive starting manual of studies from nearly every subject related to urban cycling. Average citizens interested in urban cycling would find this book a great resource as well. Should any citizen be compelled to push for a more bicycle-friendly community, this book is the only resource they would need; it is an arsenal of peer-reviewed persuasion.
Every chapter has excellent references - this is one of the very few English books that references CROW, the Dutch design manual. There are many figures and tables throughout. Some of the more interesting are Figure 5.4 about "Rider's posture while sitting and stopping on different types of bicycles" contrasting the Dutch-style transport bike, Hybrid or mountain bike, and the Road/racing bike; Figures 10.1 to 10.3 comparing bicycle mode share of trips to percentage of bicyclists who are female for countries, cities and suburbs; and Figure 2.4 contrasting five countries with trip bike share by age.
In response to the odd review below, this book is very much about lessons learnt from cities worldwide and there is not that much about vehicular cycling. In fact, the chapter which mentions it is entitled "Bicycle Infrastructure for _Mass_ Cycling". VC is not about mass cycling and the chapter promotes the infrastructure that has worked so well in Europe. The theme of the book is promoting cycling as a normal activity which should be accessible to everyone and the kind of changes that would make that possible in cities. The citations are of course European as very few cities elsewhere have achieved much in the way of modal share. If cycling is to be for everyone, others should learn from the Netherlands and Denmark.
The only real criticism I had was that the bike sharing scheme chapter was considerably out of date as soon as they wrote it; it's really hard to produce a "comprehensive" survey on them as it involves studying materials in many different languages and data is not easily available. The text about how "commentators speculate that these mandatory helmet laws have hindered the success of Mebourne's program" could be strengthened somewhat and extended to Brisbane (and Vancouver next year) given more recent research.
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