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Effective Cycling (MIT Press) Paperback – April 20, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

John Forester's Effective Cycling continues and expands his mission to make bicycling easy, enjoyable, rewarding and responsible. He recognizes that most US authorities put cyclists into an inferior status, and therefore into a dilemma, and conveys to them the attitude and the rules with which they can be appreciated and responsible road users. This book should be read by all cyclists, and especially by all 'authorities.'

(David Gordon Wilson, MIT Mechanical Engineering; author of Bicycling Science)

I have used previous editions of Effective Cycling as my go-to source for some 35 years. It is comprehensive, based on irrefutable logic and scientific data, and easily understandable.

(Bill Hoffman, former Director, League of American Bicyclists)

As a lifelong bicyclist, I didn't realize my eyes were wide shut with respect to bicycling matters until I first read Effective Cycling, fourth edition, in 1988 at age 30. John Forester's seminal, expansive, and tireless work in educating bicyclists and protecting the rights of bicyclists as drivers of vehicles has been incalculably valuable to me and countless thousands of others who pedal for fun and utility.

(Wayne Pein, Bicycling Matters)

About the Author

John Forester is a bicycle transportation engineer and the author of Bicycle Transportation: A Handbook for Cycling Transportation Engineers (MIT Press). An experienced cyclist, cycling advocate, and onetime racer, he lives in Lemon Grove, California

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Product Details

  • Series: MIT Press
  • Paperback: 824 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 7th edition (April 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262516942
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262516945
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,239,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bruce Epperson on July 20, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review is written narrowly for those who already have either the previous "Big Blue" or "Fat Yellow" MIT editions and are are wondering whether it's worth it to spring for this new edition.

Although listed as the "seventh edition," there are really three major versions of Effective Cycling. The 1975 mimeograph book, which was tweaked around and reissued several times, a 1984 MIT edition ("Big Blue") and a 1993 MIT Edition ("Fat Yellow"). How is this new version different?

By the time "Fat Yellow" was published, it suffered from three problems: 1) its technology was out of date (for example, it hardly mentioned mountain bikes); 2) too much of the book was made up of screeds, old-time war stories, and personal axe-grinding; and 3) its riding advice was closed and totalistic--as Orwell once put it in another context "everything that's not required is prohibited." All three have improved a little around the edges, almost always by cutting away, less often by adding, never by changing. The impression one gets is that they were grudging changes.

The format of the book is smaller, so the text is shorter. Most of the reduction seems to have come from the mechanical section. The discussion of derailleurs, for example, never even mentions brake-lever shifters. So much of the technical discussion in Big Blue and Fat Yellow had become obsolete that it appears the solution chosen was just cut it out. Forester is famous for his complaint that when he sat down to write the 1975 edition he couldn't find an American book that properly discussed how to fix a flat in detail. Well, that's just about all that this new edition DOES discuss in detail. (And as to that complaint, well, see Jeff Mapes's book Pedaling Revolution.
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Forester is an interesting character. He wrote two massive books on this subject and reused a majority of the material in each so if you have read one of them you end up re-reading it all over again when you read the second book (Bicycle Transportation). Parts of these books deal with and are colored by his personal problems fitting in the industry. Forester believes bicycles should be treated like cars and have the exact same rights (which to some extent they do by law), privileges, and restrictions as cars. He is also antigovernment regulations on safety items (reflectors, lights, etc) and blames the government's requirements for safety items, or more like "lack of", as the root of most cyclist related accidents. His premises basely that since the government says only reflectors are required (and poor versions besides) then most bicyclists are convinced that they do not need headlights, tailights, or better reflectors, and as such, ride without them, ending up in accidents that they wouldn't have had they had better safety items (reflectors, lights, etc).

One of his points about bicycle mobility seems very straightforward - if bicyclists try to get treated differently than motorists they will, but only for the worse not better. A good example is bike lanes and paths. Where bicyclists fight for bike lanes and paths and get them it is usually at the loss of being able to freely travel on the roadways. Personally I am in complete agreement with him in this area. The problems with bike lanes and paths are many, but my main issue is that they quickly become multipurpose: pedestrian and rider. These multipurpose routes are just plain dangerous. Pedestrians have no concept of "right of way" or consideration for moving vehicles (bicycles) on these routes.
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This is a fascinating, highly informed and somewhat opinionated book. The current edition is the 7th; it has been kept pretty well updated over the last 30-some years. At 802 pages, it's more of an encyclopedia of cycling than a "how-to-bike" book. Forester is regarded as a prophet by a lot of us older cyclists who remember when there was really no legal protection for cyclists on the road and Forester (among others) took on the task of building a case for us; consequently, the book has a strong advocacy theme throughout. There are probably better "first books" for beginning road cyclists, but there is none that is more thorough and impassioned.
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7th edition of a classic "must read" for any serious cyclist. Forester is recognized as one of the most influential cycling advocates in the US. This is a very long book with possibly too much detail on many topics, but it is not written to be read straight through.
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Forester is the definitive text on modern bicycle riding. Sections on all aspects of the subject, including equipment, maintenance, and riding techniques. Covers street riding in considerable detail, offering a wealth of tips and practices. Touches on various modes of recreational cycling. Because it's a text, it has some pretty elementary stuff in it, making it suitable to the beginner. But it keeps the attention of veteran cyclists as well. To me, the most interesting sections were at the end, covering modern social policies for cycling, as well as cycling advocacy. Originally written in 1974, and updated in 1984 and 2012, it's regrettably just a bit behind the times, given the explosion of interest these past few years in urban bicycles and the similarly recent expansion of dedicated bicycle lanes and other bike facilities. But a textbook can never be completely up-to-date - the field moves much too quickly. Warning: It's a doorstop of a book - almost 800 pages.
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