Thursday, April 9, 2015

Book Review: The Urban Cycling Survival Guide by Yvonne Bambrick

So a few weeks ago I entered a contest on, (my newest favourite website, for all your Canlit needs) to win The Urban Cycling Survival Guide by Yvonne Bambrick. I just entered on a whim, assuming there probably wouldn't be too many people entering so I had a good chance of winning. I also thought hey, I ride my bike in the city sometimes, although I assumed it was probably written for more committed cyclists.

Well, I was wrong - it turned out, The Urban Cycling Survival Guide was exactly what I needed. As I already mentioned, I'm not a super committed commuter cyclist like some people are. I don't ride in the winter or every day. I only started using my bike to commute to school this year because other years my commute has either been too far away, or close enough that I just walk instead. 

In the introduction, the author states that her goal is to basically give a grand overview to what you need to know about biking in the city. I think she accomplishes this really well. The overview was really easy to read, clear, and caught all the most important aspects of urban cycling. However, since it is an overview, you definitely need to do some more reading to learn more about each topic. Thankfully she includes a list of additional resources at the end! There was definitely a lot of stuff that I knew already, but I learned a lot of things as well.

Mostly I learned that my city sucks for commuter cycling. I mean, I didn't even know protected cycle tracks were a thing. That would be awesome. My city barely even has bike lanes. The author actually addresses the fact that a lot of cities are only starting to be more bike-friendly. She has an entire chapter at the end of the book about bicycle advocacy. I looked up bicycle advocacy in my city, and what do you know, there are multiple groups and organizations devoted to it. 

I think one of the best things about this book is that it doesn't preach at you about being environmentally friendly, or even cycling. It was mostly just a beginner's guide to encourage people to be less afraid to just go out and try cycling by equipping them with some important knowledge. Even if you have no interest in biking right now, I'd encourage you to pick up this book anyway and read it, and then see what you think about biking afterward.

In closing I'd like to leave you with a quote included in the "Why Ride?" chapter of the book. It perfectly expresses why I love biking, and why even though biking is often much harder than driving, I would much rather bike than drive somewhere.

"For me, especially from the raised vantage point of a bicycle seat, the feeling is reminiscent of snorkeling. Like an exotic seascape seen from a fresh perspective, the city reveals itself in new ways. Self-propelled motion at relatively low speeds offers us more than exercise and a chance to commune with our neighbours. It restores a geographic intuition that was weakened by the car - a feel for the real distances between things, a sense of the connections between the parts of the city." - Ken Greenberg


  1. I'm not sure whether my original comment posted (sometimes they just disappear. If this is a repeat, I apologize). For me, cycling is about being able to smell things about the outdoors that you can't in a car.

    This sounds like it was an informative read...It's good that you know more about cycling in your city, and were inspired to look up more info on particular topics as well as local groups. That's really neat.

    1. Yes, exactly! The feeling of being in the outdoors just doesn't happen when you're in a car. It was a good read, although fairly simply and straightforward. I did learn a few things though and it definitely encouraged me to be more committed to biking. (Also, no, your other comment didn't post, I wish I knew why it did that...)

    2. Eh, it just happens sometimes. I ought to have learned by now to select all and copy before posting a comment.

      Even when you roll windows down in a car, it just isn't the same as being on a bike.


Hey there! I really treasure every comment... whether it just be a hello or a deeper thought. I love hearing your thoughts! :)


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