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Art of Cycling: A Guide to Bicycling in 21st-Century America Paperback – October 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


“While there are thousands of books on bicycling, this is the best book I’ve come across for offering lots of hard-earned, practical advice for staying alive. Happily, Hurst is a skilled writer with a passion for history, so he weaves a tale that gives historical and even philosophical perspective in a manner I found totally engaging. . . . [A] gem of a book.”
Huffington Post

"This empowering cycling book should come in the glove box of every new car sold" -- Marla Streb, World Champion Downhill Mountain Bike Racer
"While it's hard to imagine a book about [urban] cycling could fill over 250 pages, let alone strive to be a near masterpiece, that's just what The Art of Urban Cycling: Lessons from the Street, and all-encompassing how-to book by veteran bicycling messenger Robert Hurst, has accomplished."

"With a spot-on foreword written by Luna downhiller Marla Streb and a detailed index of footnotes and bibliography, Hurst has compiled a cerebral but hip manifesto for [urban] cyclists looking to coexist in a system that has left them to fend for their lives." -- VeloNews, Journal of Competitive Cycling
"I would like to highly recommend the book "The Art of Urban Cycling: Lessons from the Street" by Robert Hurst. Not only is it delightfully written (with a sense of humour and a relaxed style) and absorbing ("just a second, dear, I'll take out the trash after I read about curbs"), but it's *dead on*. I've been riding my whole life, never having owned a car, to get everywhere from school to grocery shopping to Canada. And he's *right*. Katherine Stange, Providence, RI (Amazon review)

"There are other books about cycling that are worth reading (such as Effective Cycling by John Forester) but I think this one is the best of the bunch." -
Cliff Heegel (Memphis, TN)

"The best "how to" cycling book out there. I've bought several copies for myself, strategically placed to rarely be far from one. Having ridden in cities for over 40 years, I still found every page, infact almost every paragraph contained a pearl. Pros and cons of controvertial issues are presented, and with excellent references, making the author's recommendations so much more authoritative." -
Hansel de Sousa (Bethlehem, PA)

From the Back Cover

Road rash is a precious gift.
Road rash is your friend.
Bask in it, appreciate it, love it.
Above all, learn from it.
Covering much more than just riding a bike in traffic, author Robert Hurst paints, in uncanny detail, the challenges, strategies, and art of riding a bike on America’s streets and roadways. His primary concern is safety, but he goes well beyond the usual tips and how-to, diving into the realms of history, psychology, sociology, and economics.
The Art of Cycling empowers readers with the big picture of riding a bicycle in America―and gives cyclists useful insights to consider while pedaling the next commute, grocery run, or training ride. Riding a bike will never be the same.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Falcon Guides; 2nd edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762743166
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762743162
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Allan Bedford on July 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
I bought this book recently while waiting for a new bike to arrive that I'd ordered online. I wanted to get into the cycling mood before my new ride arrived, though I was already geared up for the topic. So I really really wanted to like this book. I wanted to love it. And as close as it came, it just fell a bit short.

As a commuting cyclist I felt this was the perfect book for me. It's packed with suggestions, tips and methods of cycling in urban and suburban environments that are meant to keep you safe and secure in the insanity of traffic you face daily. And those parts of the book are great... the parts about cycling that is. But getting to those parts takes some patience. Nearly the first 50 pages are a lead up to actually discussing cycling. They are sort of a short history of civil engineering, how inner cities and the suburbs developed, and how evil roads and cars can be. While that stuff is all well and good, it could have been a bit shorter or perhaps woven in with more of the on-topic material.

The author's joy and enthusiasm for cyling are obvious though, in the rest of the book. I feel as though he strives to stand up for the rights of cyclists (and encourage them to do the same for themselves) but he doesn't take a vigilante tone in doing so. And I appreciated that, because I think it makes it easier to follow his suggestions. They feel as though they're coming from a friend, rather than a fanatic.

So as much as I wanted to give this book 5 stars, I'm only going to give it 4. I'd likely give it 4 1/2 if that were an option. Sadly, it's not. But I do encourage riders of all skill levels (especially those starting out in the commuting lifestyle) to check out this really good book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book gives a good overview of bicycle commuting for the beginner. It starts with the history of bicycles, as well as some history on America's transportation infrastructure. I felt that the real "meat" of the book was in chapter 3, where it dealt with issues you may encounter while cycling with traffic. What I feel is really worth mentioning is that the author does not take a strict vehicular cycling stance. He states that riding in traffic, as a vehicle, is best, but recognizes that there are times when you can and should make an exception, such as getting off your bike and crossing like a pedestrian rather than making a vehicular left turn on busy streets.

One gripe is that the book seems written more for people on road bikes, in a bent-over position, going at racing speeds, rather than the relaxed cyclist riding an upright commuter. He says at least 3 times that an upright riding position is for beginners, and that as you get more experience, you will naturally gravitate toward the more bent over position. I think that everyone should ride the style of bike that they prefer. If you want to bend over and go fast, do that. If you want to sit upright and go slower, do that. But he seems to feel that the *only* way to cycle is on a bent-over road bike, and if you prefer anything else, then you obviously don't know what you're doing. During a brief overview on the helmet controversy, the author refers to the fact that CPSC approval means that helmets are certified to protect your head at a 14 mph impact. He then goes on to say, "Obviously, CPSC's testing conditions are exceeded regularly by any decent cyclist on the way to the grocery store."

I say, what's the hurry?
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin E. Stevens on June 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is best for someone about to take up urban bicycle commuting. (With gas prices going up, I assume that this target audience is growing.) Overall, the book has the feel of a relaxed instructor going over the basics with a class of beginners. Somehow, Hurst manages to cram a lot of information--no fluff--into 250 pages without being boring.

An experienced rider will find little new information beyond the historical stuff. The historical sections are nice for those interested in understanding the bigger picture of cycling in the United States. Some may yawn, but it is powerful information worth knowing and pondering.

The discussions about bike culture (and various subcultures) are interesting and amusing. Hurst seems to promote bike culture while asking the reader to take it lightly.

My only peeve: I do not understand why the word "Urban" was removed from the title. The book dedicates only about two pages to suburban riding and completely neglects country cycling. As a former country commuter, I can attest that the navigation of old highways and byways has its own distinct challenges and priorities. There is nothing inherently wrong with the information in the book; I simply feel that the word "Urban" should still be in the title (at least until in-depth non-urban material is eventually added).
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57 of 75 people found the following review helpful By John Cork on January 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
Okay, I love cycling. I average between 60 to 100 miles a week. I don't race. I don't train. I ride mostly in the Los Angeles area. I go to the doctor, the store, the post office. meetings. I am an urban cyclist. And when I talk to my fellow drivers, many tell me how much they would love to get on a bike, but with the traffic they are just too afraid. Robert Hurst, author of "The Art of Cycling" likes that these people are too afraid to cycle. He wants you to be too afraid to cycle. There is nary more than a passing mention of the joy of cycling in here. What Robert wants to tell everyone is that cycling is dangerous, deadly and that you will get hurt, badly, and that if you do, you are lucky. I'm not joking. It is all disguised within the book, because Robert first gives us a nice potted history of cycling, motoring and urban growth patterns in the 20th century. Then he gives his "invocation," where he says it is our duty to show others how "easy it is" to ride in the city. Then he states, "Ride with fear and joy." What follows for the next 200-plus pages is a whole lot of fear. He starts by telling us that our streets are really not suitable for riding, that we have bad pavement, potholes, cracks, seams and waves. His advice: find a route, memorize it, and don't vary from it because if you do, you are taking your life in your hands. Scared yet? Oh, it gets better. Next, Hurst wants to tell you how to ride your bike in the city. His first pronouncement is that if you ride with the traffic laws, you can expect "a few trips to the MRI room." Great! What rules are we supposed to follow? Hard to say. Maybe blow through Stop signs (a common activity for cyclists at empty 4-ways), but mostly, he implores riders to just ride scared.Read more ›
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