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The Art of Urban Cycling: Lessons from the Street Paperback – July 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: FalconGuides; 1st edition (July 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762727837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762727834
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.
The bicyclist is under attack from all directions - the streets are ragged, the air is poison, and the drivers are angry. As if that weren’t enough, the urban cyclist must carry the weight of history along on every ride.
After a brief heyday at the turn of the twentieth century, American cyclists fell out of the social consciousness, becoming an afterthought when our cities were planned and built. Cyclists today are left to navigate, like rats in a sewer, through a hard and unsympathetic world that was not made for them. Yet, with the proper attitude and a bit of knowledge, urban cyclists can thrive in this hostile environment.
Author Robert Hurst dismantles the experience of urban cycling, slides it under the microscope, and examines it piece by piece. The primary concern of this book is safety, but Hurst goes well beyond the usual tips and how-to, revealing the bicycle’s historical truths and its pivotal role in the origin of the automobile, the psychology of blame and responsibility, the social advantage of communicating solidarity with drivers, and the economics of riding a bike. This book empowers readers with the big picture of bicycling - and gives riders useful insights to ponder while pedaling their next commute or grocery run. Riding a bike will never be the same.


About the Author

Robert Hurst is a native Coloradan who is just happy to be in one piece after working for seven years as a professional bike messenger in Denver. He celebrates his continued survival by spending time in the mountains, and by riding the world's most excellent trails. He is also the author of Mountain Biking Colorado's San Juan Mountains.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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This is first bike commuting book that I've read that raises questions like this.
Book guy
City bike riding is great--- and this is a great book for anyone who wants to learn wise ways to wisely negotiate urban streets and traffic.
Cliff Heegel
Highly recommended if you find that reading/learning about cycling is part of why you enjoy cycling.
Andrew Kent

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Cliff Heegel on September 1, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love riding my bike through the city-- Cities are fascinating when you experience them from a bicycle. To me riding a bike through a city is an adventure. I am amazed when others are amazed that I don't have a car and don't want one.

City bike riding is great--- and this is a great book for anyone who wants to learn wise ways to wisely negotiate urban streets and traffic. Hurst articulates the street sense that takes years of riding to acquire. I have been riding as a bike commuter in urban settings for the past 20 years-- this book is on target.

If you want to ride your bike more and depend on cars less, this is a good source to turn to for some sage advice. To really learn, of course, you need to ride your bike on your streets in your city.

If you decide to ride, read this book. If you are already a veteran of the urban biking wars, read this book-- I learned a lot. I feel even more relaxed riding now than I did before I read the book.

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.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Hansel de Sousa on January 1, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.

Two of many examples: The helmet controversy is addressed, including most the anti-helmet arguments, yet concludes: "Wear a helmet, but don't let it get to your head", which encompasses the notion of 'risk compensation' without directly mentioning it (which would have opened up a real Pandora's box).

Mirrors are credited with negating some of the need to look back, but yet Hurst tellingly mentions "Turning back can have almost the same effect as a turn signal".

There are literally hundreds of similar insights to safe riding.

Safety is the first priority throughout the book, yet it's much too inspiring and humourous to be treated as an instruction manual.

Recommended without any reservation!
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Monsieur L'Ingrate on August 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
OK, here's what you should know:

Hurst is writing for experienced cyclists. He makes that very clear. So if you're just starting out with urban bike commuting, this might not be the place to go. As Hurst himself says, John Forester's _Effective Cycling_ -- regardless of what you think of his opinions on bike lanes -- lays out the basic traffic principles for beginners very clearly.

If you are an experienced cyclist, then Hurst wants to teach you to ride like a bike messenger, which he is. That is, he wants you to ride like a professional. His style is graceful and flexible, but it demands constant vigilance and a high level of interest in the activity of riding itself. If you find biking fascinating from minute to minute and second to second, the Hurst philosophy is for you.

I think, though -- and this is my biggest problem with the book -- most people don't want to ride like bike messengers. Most people want to get from one place to another safely, but they don't necessarily want to put 100% intense concentration into it. Hurst doesn't have much time for commuters who aren't totally obsessed with biking. It's telling that a book called "The Art of Urban Cycling" says absolutely nothing about city bikes! That could just be the age of the book -- Dutch-style city bikes were much less available in the US in 2004 than they are now -- but I also think he's just not interested in the idea that you might want to ride upright, at a moderate pace, with your pants protected by a full chainguard. He's not interested in the idea that you might want to carry your children.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Katherine E Stange on August 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
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*.

Nevertheless, I've learned much from reading it. Hurst advocates a practical and well-considered (not to mention well-tested and developed by very experienced riders), safety-oriented, philosophically coherent approach that I find very appealing. He draws the best parts of Forester's well-established "vehicular-cycling" philosophy but drops the impractical and dangerous aspects of any strict adherence to it. He advocates awareness, a consideration for others, and responsibility for one's own safety, above mere blind rule-following.

The book starts out with a history of cycling and the role it played in the development of our automobile society. He shows us that the ties are deep and tangled, and encourages us to embrace the complex world that is the city street. He then discusses the history of and previous philosophies of urban cycling before getting into the equally fascinating details of riding style, dangers, accidents, equipment, etc. It's a wonderful book, both to read cover-to-cover for interest, and as a reference with a detailed index.
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