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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 04-04-05, 12:32 PM   #1
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Book Report: The Art of Urban Cycling

I don't know if any of you have read The Art of Urban Cycling or not, but I found it to be informative and humorous enough to make it a quick read.

Being relatively new to riding on the roads, I found most of it to be pretty eye-opening. It pointed out several bad habits that I was developing. I also enjoyed the comparisons between the "vehicular cycling" vs. the "invisible cycling". Actually it turned out to be a healthy mix of both was prescribed.

Maybe you all could recommend other books that proved to be useful as well.
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Old 04-04-05, 12:42 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hickabod
Maybe you all could recommend other books that proved to be useful as well.
I've often been fond of two types of books. One type is the in-depth no-holds-barred bigger-than-a-stack-of-encyclopedias books which are very thorough and covers everything in detail. Another type of book I like is the quick-primer. For commuting, I have found that The Bicycle Commuting Book by Rob Van der Plas while being a little old and dated (at least the version I have) is a pretty good book that's easy to read in one sitting (only 120 some-odd pages) and brings you up to speed quickly. It's not very in-depth though but if you're just starting out and want to get the lay of the landscape in terms of commuting information, it's pretty good.
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Old 04-04-05, 12:47 PM   #3
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-- Effective Cycling by John Forester
-- The League Guide to Safe and Enjoyable Cycling
all the articles on the LAB website about bicycle commuting.
http://www.bikeleague.org/educenter/factsheets.htm
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Old 04-04-05, 02:27 PM   #4
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I would recommend Urban Bikers' Tricks and Tips:Low-Tech and No-Tech Ways to Find, Keep, and Ride a Bicycle, By Dave Glowacz. Practical and informative, with a bit of "outlaw" riding tips as well.
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Old 04-04-05, 05:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muccapazza
I would recommend Urban Bikers' Tricks and Tips:Low-Tech and No-Tech Ways to Find, Keep, and Ride a Bicycle, By Dave Glowacz. Practical and informative, with a bit of "outlaw" riding tips as well.
I have not yet read The Art of Urban Cycling, but it's in my Amazon cart...

I definitely DO NOT recommend Urban Biker's Tricks and Tips. The "outlaw" riding tips are borderline suicidal. I guess if you ignore those the rest of the book is okay, but other books (including perhaps The Art...) are much better, so why bother?

In particular, Cyclecraft by John Franklin and Effective Cycling by John Forester explain vehicular cycling very well. Both have their relative strengths and weaknesses, but neither makes the blatant errors that does Glowacz. Also, there is rhyme and reason in Cyclecraft and EC that is completely missing from Urban Biker's. Ignoring the "tricks", it's a summary of "tips", without any of the explanation of the basis or underlying principles behind the tips that is explained in the other books. I found John S. Allen's simple but very clear Streetsmarts pamphlet (google it for a free copy), was much more valuable than Tricks and Tips.

I am intrigued about the comparison of "vehicular cycling" to "invisible cycling". I have found that the "opposite"of VC is hard to describe, and "invisible cycling" seems to be at least as good as the others I've heard and come up with myself: "gap cycling", "incompetent cycling", etc.

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Old 04-04-05, 06:59 PM   #6
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Definitely a good book - I found it over the weekend at Border's.

About half-way through - I really enjoyed the history section of the book.
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Old 04-04-05, 07:24 PM   #7
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I read the book on the plane over here to Iraq, and even though I had been commuting for a year by bike, there were still tips I found useful. I too enjoyed the history section. I've even been riding over here on a cheap bike I picked up. My goal is decrease my dependancy on cars by at least 80% or more, and some of the tips I picked up, and reminders of things I already knew should help me accomplish that goal. In my opinion everyone should read it, and I might not be sitting in a desert fighting for oil...
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Old 04-05-05, 08:27 AM   #8
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Have to also recommend any good bike maintenance book. Save ya lots a money!

I have a thirty year old copy of "Anybody's Bike Book", but there are many others that are good, too.
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Old 04-05-05, 03:41 PM   #9
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Again, I have not read the book, but I just ordered it from Amazon and should have it in a couple of weeks (free shipping takes a while!).

Anyway, I inquired about the book on a VC list and someone for whom I have a lot of respect with regard to traffic cycling had this to say:


Quote:
Hurst doesn't understand VC like we do (his explanation of VC makes that abundantly clear) and he overrates the messenger mindset.
I'm guessing that Hurst might misunderstand VC to be something simplistic like "taking the lane". Can anyone confirm or deny?
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Old 04-05-05, 04:06 PM   #10
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I don't think Hurst misunderstands VC, I think he disagrees w/ it.
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Old 04-05-05, 04:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by christie133
I don't think Hurst misunderstands VC, I think he disagrees w/ it.
I am curious to see how he perceives VC and what in particular he disagrees with.
Most people I have encountered who express disgreement with VC also seem to think of as it as something other than simply riding in accordance to the vehicular rules of the road.

In particular, does Hurst advocate violating the vehicular rules of the road? If so, which ones and when? If not, then how is it that he disagrees with VC?
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Old 04-05-05, 04:24 PM   #12
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Hurst mostly agrees w/ VC, especially on the key issue of road position and bike lanes. The main point of departure is Hurst's argument that it's OK for cyclists to slowly roll through stop signs and red lights.

What fools people into thinking he's anti-VC is that Hurst writes with a non-condescending sense of humor.

Note: I editted this a little as Helmet Head was preparing his response.

Last edited by Daily Commute; 04-05-05 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 04-05-05, 04:41 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Daily Commute
Hurst mostly agrees w/ VC. What he disagrees with is some of the silly extensions some VC'ers have made.
Such as?
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Old 04-05-05, 04:43 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Such as?
Never, ever break the law. Hurst argues that it's OK for cyclists to roll through red lights and stop signs when traffic permits it. I agree, as long as there's no traffic in any direction, including behind me.
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Old 04-05-05, 04:49 PM   #15
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Hurst's Art of Urban Cycling is recommended, although his anti-Forester rants get a little tiresome after a while. He tends to be unkind in Internet discussion forums also. All in all, though, it's a very good book to get even for experienced bicyclists. Getting past his prejudices will take some doing.

Regarding Hurst's understanding (or not) of VC, he tends to criticize some of the hyperbole and rhetoric and seems to paint all VCers as inconsiderate lane-hoggers.

I especially like his chapters on helmet safety and on injuries.

Tips & Tricks is a waste. Don't get it.

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Old 04-05-05, 04:57 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by jhershbine
In my opinion everyone should read it, and I might not be sitting in a desert fighting for oil...
wow...

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Old 04-05-05, 05:49 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daily Commute
Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Such as?
Never, ever break the law. Hurst argues that it's OK for cyclists to roll through red lights and stop signs when traffic permits it. I agree, as long as there's no traffic in any direction, including behind me.
Got anything else?

I think you (and many others) mistake Forester's adamance about obeying the vehicular rules of the road with obeying the letter of the law. If you read Forester's section on stop signs carefully, for example, you too will see that he allows for not coming to a complete stop when no pedestrians are present and traffic permits it (I addressed this in more detail in the Yield vs. Stop Advocacy thread where you made a similar point).

Forester's actual writing is not anywhere near as pedantic as many make it out to be. He even defends sidewalk cycling on occasion, and admits to doing it himself from time to time. Out of context, that's not a big deal, but given what he is alleged to advocate ("Never, ever break the law"), it is totally contradictory. You might want to reread the traffic cycling sections again, perhaps with a bit more care.

I agree with you, Hurst and Forester about occasionally treating Stop signs as Yield signs.
However, I agree with Forester that a RED light means you many not enter the intersection (except to turn right), and certainly do not advocate running reds! Now, if the light is not reacting to the presence of the cyclists, that's a different story, and Forester allows for treating an inoperative light as a STOP sign. But rolling a red light? Under what circumstances would you or Hurst support that?

Last edited by Helmet Head; 04-05-05 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 04-05-05, 06:15 PM   #18
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"Urban Biker's Tricks and Tips" is far and away one of the best books on commuting. "The Art of Urban Cycling" is good, but not as good as tips and tricks. the outlaw tips may be borderline suicidal but they work. the main reason people dont recommend this book is cause it caters to regular people who want to ride bikes rather than lycra clad yuppies on tricked out road bikes.
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Old 04-05-05, 06:26 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SecretSatellite
the outlaw tips may be borderline suicidal but they work.
From a brilliant review of Tips and Tricks on Amazon:

"Just because he hasn't been killed by his own advice yet does not mean it's good advice, or that all of his readers will have the same dumb luck."

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Old 04-05-05, 06:35 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richardmasoner
. . . Regarding Hurst's understanding (or not) of VC, he tends to criticize some of the hyperbole and rhetoric and seems to paint all VCers as inconsiderate lane-hoggers. . . .
I don't remember seeing that. WHat I remember is that Hurst basically supported Forester when it came to lane position.

Helmet Head,
I checked out Hurst's book from the library (as I did with Forester's), so I can't quote chapter and verse. I admit that my comments are based on the impressions the books left. My main point remains, there is very little difference between the two (except for writing style). I think we actually agree about that.

When would I run a red? At four in the morning when there is literally no one around (and I've slowed down enough to verify that). And yes, if I got a ticket, I would have to pay it.
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Old 04-05-05, 06:40 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daily Commute
When would I run a red? At four in the morning when there is literally no one around (and I've slowed down enough to verify that). And yes, if I got a ticket, I would have to pay it.
But you would probably do that whether you were driving a car or riding a bike... which is the point of VC as Forester presents it... actlng like a vehicle driver.
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Old 04-05-05, 06:42 PM   #22
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helmet head,
i disagree. tips and tricks gives down to earth advice in a non-academic tone about real world situations. i especially liked the diagram of where to strike a windshield with your u-lock.
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Old 04-05-05, 10:03 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SecretSatellite
...it caters to regular people who want to ride bikes rather than lycra clad yuppies on tricked out road bikes.
Robert Hurst a "lycra clad yuppy on tricked out road bikes"?! That'll be the day. He's a messenger in Denver, strong path advocate and occasional anti-roadie pundit on wreck.bikes.

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Old 04-06-05, 02:19 AM   #24
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Let me put my original point a little more clearly. When I read Hurst's criticisms of VC, I remember thinking that he was criticizing a caricature of VC rather than VC. Serge, remember, I'm trying to agree with you.
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Old 04-06-05, 03:00 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daily Commute
Let me put my original point a little more clearly. When I read Hurst's criticisms of VC, I remember thinking that he was criticizing a caricature of VC rather than VC. Serge, remember, I'm trying to agree with you.
I'd have to agree with that assessment. He's not attacking Forester or what he espouses, but the supposed vehicular cyclists that think they are equal to cars and trucks on the road, to the point of not being courteous to other denizens of the road, and who happen to be staunchly against bike lane or MUP development. Granted, these people may not really exist, but he uses it for some good juxtapositioning between the vehicular cyclist and the invisible cyclist.

I think one of the bigger points is the concept of "Leave No Trace" while cycling. Anticipate and avoid problem situations, rather than asserting a place on the road to the point of annoyance, or riding in an unsafe position because you're afraid of the big mean cars.
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