ibikelondon's biking book reviews

If you're stranded in a far-off airport terminal somewhere biding your time, or out in a park enjoying the quiet clear plane-free skies, there couldn't be a better time to pick up a book and read up on cycling.  Here's my lowdown on a few tomes I've recently devoured which maybe fall off the more mainstream cycling book lists:

The Story of the Bicycle
Ladybird Books

This has become quite a collector's item in recent years; first published in 1976 I managed to track my copy down via Amazon with the help of some of my helpful Twitter followers after a long search elsewhere.  Giving the low-down on the history and mechanics of the humble bicycle (did you know Thomas Stevens rode around the world in 3 years on a Penny Farthing with solid tyres in 1884?), it is the famous Ladybird book illustrations that make this little book so desirable.  Here's Kirkpatrick Macmillan, the first man to design and build a pedal-driven bicycle, and, incidentally, the first man to be fined for reckless driving on one after he struck a local girl whilst out riding...
John Franklin, £12.50. Fourth edition, 2007Published by Her Majesty's Stationary Office.

I was recently thumbing back through this book as I am trying to encourage my Better Half to cycle more, and instil a sense of road sense at the same time(!)  Whilst Franklin's ideas about cycle lanes and segregated infrastructure  couldn't be further from my own, until we have a Dutch-style cycling system here in the UK Franklin is your man for learning how to negotiate the roads safely and command them with confidence.  For every new cyclist I see weaving their way to work thinking that simply knowing how to 'ride' a bike is sufficient I want to thrust a copy of this into their hands; it tells you everything you need to know and more about how to arrive alive and command the traffic around you: a must-read for all new cyclists starting out on our roads.

 25 London Cycle Routes
London Cyclist blog
eBook, £6.95

Many of you here will already read Andreas on his blog London Cyclist.  Last month he released an eBook, available to download for a small fee from his website, which contains a variety of routes in and around London.  From sight-seeing rides to taxing runs up into the 'mountains' of North London this eBook has a ride for all abilities.  Beautifully presented, excellently researched and full of local knowledge and insight, I recently had a chance to test out one of the routes (out across Hackney Marshes) and was really impressed with the GPS co-ordinates, maps, photographs and anecdotes that Andreas provides throughout.  If you haven't downloaded your copy yet and love cycling in London, I thoroughly recommend that you do so here.

Beauty and the Bike DVD and book
Beatrix Wupperman and Richard Grassick,
£24 together, or £14 just for the book or DVD individually.

This book and DVD are the consequence of a community media project whereby a group of teenage girls are encouraged to cycle in their home town of Darlington, and embark on a cultural exchange with their cycling counterparts from Bremen in Germany.  The Darlington girls are astonished by the way in which cycling is widespread in Germany, and the way they are treated as equals on the roads by other traffic there.  They also, for the first time, begin to consider the bicycle as an ordinary and everyday object that they can use without the aid of special equipment or clothes. The German girls, meanwhile, are shocked by the state of Darlington's roads....  This project raises many important questions that need serious answers; why do teenage girls stop cycling?  Why do so few teenagers cycle to school in the UK?  Where are we going wrong with the way in which we design our roads in terms of accommodating cyclists? And how many cyclists will there be left in the future, if people continue to be too afraid to ride?  As such, this is an invaluable resource that should be compulsory viewing for every urban planner in the UK, and is totally indisposable to anyone with even a passing interest in seeing the bicycle re-positioned as a major means of transport in the UK again.  Order your copy direct from the publisher here, or check out the project's ongoing blog here.


1 comment:

Christa said...

There needs to be a Beauty and the Bike series in the U.S. and many, many other countries. Great concept!