- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: TarcherPerigee (April 4, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143111779
- ISBN-13: 978-0143111771
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How Cycling Can Save the World Paperback – April 4, 2017
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"A fascinating read that informs, educates, and inspires."
—Library Journal starred review
“Peter Walker’s How Cycling Can Save the World is no mere rhetorical flourish; it’s an inspiring social, political, and investment strategy for a rapidly urbanizing planet.”
—Janette Sadik-Khan, former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation
"Peter Walker has written the book I wanted to write. It should be compulsory reading for anyone in a decision-making role. This might seem a sweeping statement but when you see the diverse and positive impact more cycling could have on our lives—cyclist or not—you’ll understand."
—Chris Boardman, Olympic gold medalist in cycling
About the Author
Peter Walker is a political correspondent for the Guardian and runs its popular bike blog. As a news journalist he has reported from places ranging from Iraq to North Korea. Walker has also been named one of the fifty most influential people in British cycling. He has been a regular cyclist since working as a cycle courier in London and Sydney.
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Let's just hope his prediction of the future happens as quickly as foretold.
One important premise is that for cycling to be adopted by more people, they need to feel it is safer. This contrasts with the de facto statements in many books about cycling which maintain that cycling on streets is "safe" and that riders merely need to be less risk adverse and be more assertive in the face of motor vehicles weighing 3000 pounds or more. The reality is that perhaps 10 percent of the population is willing to accept the risks that are inherent with the status quo but that another 60 percent or so would be willing to use bicycling as a form of transportation if the infrastructure was such that one did not have to rely on attentive and concerned vehicle drivers and on a level of cycling skills that many people (including children) don't have.
Another strong point of the book is that the author actually has read the studies regarding cycling participation and safety, instead of resorting to anecdotes, speculation, or the rehashing of what others have written. In addition, although the author advocates for substantial changes in attitudes and infrastructure, he avoids doing so in a way that would require that mainstream citizens make radical changes in how they live. If you want to read a cycling book that is not written by an "alternative lifestyle" advocate, I recommend this one.
What I extrapolated from How Cycling Can Save the World was a fact that astounded me before reading the book. Approximately twenty-five percent of all income goes toward the maintenance of a vehicle. If that isn't eye-opening consider this: financial disputes are the number one reason relationships fail. Trace the breadcrumbs and one could state [America's] obsession with preserving the personal car is delivering us the stress a bicycle can relieve us of.
This book is dense with facts. There are over 300 citations to support Peter Walker's findings. He impressively lays out the successful campaigns by towns and cities who have already identified the car as a problem. Some places such as the Netherlands have had this model in play for over forty years. The people of the Netherlands wanted change. Some places that isn't happening and is obviously juxtaposing the successful bike forethought by the residents and public service agents of Denmark and the Netherlands.
To show that Walker isn't shy from stirring the pot, he states the bike's ability to create a healthier population by eliminating many car rides consisting of fewer than five miles. These are the most common trips by Americans in particular. Instead of driving through these chores, a person could simply mount a bicycle, remove one car from the road, and maintain a presence that demonstrates people are on board with taking control of health and environment. Cycling can literally save the world.
Even more astounding is Walker's chapter taking on the helmet industry stating that a stellar cycling infrastructure such as those in the Netherlands and Denmark does not need head protection. Again his compelling argument is backed up by copious amounts of citations involving research in the subject. Decide for yourself if Walker succeeds in convincing you. Rest assured his comments are not some reckless impulsive comment without merit.
This book is a remarkable study in the way cycling can improve the world. It may be difficult to read in certain parts as the reader may realize they are choosing the car for its convenience than any other reason. Hopefully this book can make cyclists out of more people to get more funding for bike infrastructure. Once that happens, even out to the rural locales, there is no stopping the possibilities of bikes replacing cars in many downtown areas and being prioritized on many back country roads. Imagine a time when obesity declines and life spans rise. Imagine a device that can tackle environmental concerns as well as social concerns. This book provides so many answers, it would be no surprise to learn many people ran to their local bike shop to explore solutions to completing nearby chores without the car.