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How Cycling Can Save the World

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  204 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Peter Walker--reporter at the Guardian and curator of its popular bike blog--shows how the future of humanity depends on the bicycle.

Car culture has ensnared much of the world--and it's no wonder. Convenience and comfort (as well as some clever lobbying) have made the car the transportation method of choice for generations. But as the world evolves, the high cost of the a
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 4th 2017 by Tarcherperigee
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Alan Barta Labann explains the intertwined relationship between all forms of transportation. You'd be hard pressed to keep roads paved without the dregs of oil…moreLabann explains the intertwined relationship between all forms of transportation. You'd be hard pressed to keep roads paved without the dregs of oil fractioning: gasoline for cars, tars for roads, and taxes for labor. You don't need a paved road to bike, but mountain bikes don't make great commute or travel conveyances. (less)
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Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a committed urban cyclist this was preaching to the converted, but it still gives an excellent argument to the fact that more bicycles on the road would benefit not just those riding them but everyone else as well.
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm convinced, but how do I get non-cyclists to read this? It's a great dive into the importance of bikes, but it's also a necessary call to rethink our roads and cities. Putting people at the center of city life requires getting them out of 50-mph, half-ton metal cages, and governments need to realize that. The personal and public health benefits are enormous, and so are the economic benefits. Walker does a great job translating all the research and academic arguments into clear language that a ...more
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, library, non-fiction
I'm part of the choir here, but this was a great book. lots of research, lots of facts, fairly even-handed (I think; again, i'm already onboard), and well-written without any superfluous bits. really enjoyed this one. so much so that I read it in one 3 hour stretch (standing up for most of it, thanks to some advice early in the book), something i'm not prone to doing.
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
An engrossing portrait of what a relatively car-free, cycle-safe world would look like.

Particularly interesting are the ways in which technology will change the flow of traffic in cities in the near future: ride-share apps, driver-less cars, electric-assist cargo bikes, and cycle share programs. Multiple sources quoted in the book say that personal vehicle ownership will be a mostly-obsolete concept within 15 years. Seems overly-optimistic but I do see urban areas trending that way.

I have a fee
Lindsay Sawey
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Super factual . Learned a good deal from reading this book. Man I love biking!
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Walker believes bikes are the future of transportation. He provides lots of evidence and reasons but acknowledges it is going to take a big cultural shift to get there. Cities were built for cars and drivers will not willingly give up their dominance and power. Walker writes about economics (bikes are good for business), attitudes toward cyclists (drivers blames cyclists for just being on the road), safety (enforced helmet laws and day-go colors don't work), and the mental and physical health be ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyable read. I've read a lot of books about bikes so a lot of this was not new. The chapter on helmets was a good overview of a controversial topic. Calgary sounds like a decent biking town compared to Australia and Britain according to this book.
Olivia Matthews
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Holy crap I finally finished this book and it only took me all summer nbd. The topic interested me but geez Louise I don’t guess I realized how textbook it would be. Snooze. 3 stars. Maybe I should give it less but I’m nice. Wishing I lived in Amsterdam.
Martha Meyer
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
A terrific international review of cities becoming more cycling friendly; this book may have changed my life. There were two key insights for me:
1) Requiring helmets significantly reduces usage of bikes; people are robbed of the terrific health benefits of biking if usage is reduced; and the helmet may or may not help most folks avoid injury, so that the best solution overall for the community is to encourage but not require a helmet.
2) 'Livability' means people having a more one on one relati
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book clearly setting out the benefits of mass cycling and how all countries should take the steps needed to implement it. The benefits far outweigh the costs. The Netherlands and Denmark act as case studies. Please elsewhere need only visit these countries and see for themselves the benefits.
Jun 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, cycling
A fascinating treatise on the state of cycling infrastructure, and the attitudes toward it, worldwide. Despite what the title might lead you to believe, it doesn't say that everyone should ride bicycles, but it does rely heavily on the idea that more people would cycle if they had access to safe cycling infrastructure. IWhile it touts recent investment in cycling infrastructure in places like New York and London, it's fairly sober about the challenges in getting similar improvements elsewhere bu ...more
Amory Ross
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Here is a heavily researched thesis that convincingly provides an argument for the prioritized role of the bicycle in the twenty-first century.

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'
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
The main point I took away from this book is that if you want many ordinary people to use bicycles for day to day activities then there need to be bicycle lanes separated from motorists by something more substantial than a line of paint. Based on surveys of bicyclists about the frequency of near misses with motorists, video of motor vehicle interactions with bicyclists, and electronic distance measurements of how close many motorists pass by bicyclists, the fears many people have about bicycling ...more
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was encouraged in Chapter 2, A Healthier World, by reference of "WHO's more technical definition of 'moderate' [exercise] is three to six metabolic equivalents [METS] ... By happy coincidence, a slow trundle on a bicycle tends to equate to about five or six METS." (p.14) Curious me looked at the Compendium of Physical Activity: Bicycling and found confirmation.

Yet, the 1990 study which may have the earliest listing [PDF 600KB] (or at least shows up first in my web searches) provides info from
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports, cycling
Walker makes the case that cycling as a mode of transportation in towns and cities can reduce local air pollution, increase physical activity (thus combating obesity related illnesses), and make streets safer. When used in conjunction with public transport, cycling can clear up road congestion and take away the huge expense of car ownership for most city dwellers. My main critique of the book is that the U.S. is full of suburban neighborhoods too far from schools and offices to permit cycling an ...more
Donald Ozello
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Cycling is not just about people getting around. It's about them stopping, interacting, shopping, mixing. Being human in other words." Page 229 of How Cycling Can Save the World by Peter Walker.
I have been a bike commuter for years and I wish there were more bike commuters. How Cycling Can Save the World is an intelligent & very well-researched book that brings encouragement to the bike commuting world. It presents both sides of the discussion, then thoroughly explains why & how increa
Antti Rasinen
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I became a cyclist by chance, after a conversation with a coworker at lunchtime. My new work was far from my home and commute by public transport took an hour.

"I wish I could commute by bike. It'd be prettier and faster too, but the distance is too much."
"Are you sure? Try it."

I did, luckily. I needed only one reason to convert, but this book offers plenty more. To summarize, cycling is good for your body, your mind, your community, your city, your local businesses and your planet. The author th
Taru Luojola
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Tietokirja, jonka luin romaanin taustatyötä varten. Walker on koonnut yhteen kaikki tärkeimmät argumentit polkupyörän käytön lisäämisen puolesta niin yksilön kuin yhteiskunnan kannalta sekä eritellyt keinoja, joilla tavoitteeseen päästään ja joilla siihen ei päästä. Alaa ahkerasti seuraavalle kirjassa ei sinällään ole uutta tietoa, mutta sen vahvuutena on juuri se, että irrallisista asioista on luotu johdonmukainen ja vahvasti vakuuttava kokonaisuus.

Kirja on nähdäkseni erityisen hyödyllistä luet
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, I am a committed cyclist and I really enjoyed this book. It changed my understanding of the issues involved. I am a leisure cyclist and most of my cycling is in rural areas with the occasional foray into London. What I liked about this book was the way it did not focus on people like me but more on urban cycling and cycling as a means to an end to make cities more people centred environments. I was particularly struck by how Walker makes the case that improving cycling infrastructure and s ...more
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Disappointed by this... it's a lot of things I've read in other places -- if we all cycled we'd save $$$ in the health care system; sustainability of urban spaces and transportation systems; importance of separated bike lanes; the need for "critical mass"; helmet laws as red herring... but there's absolutely nothing compelling or personal in this book. There's no inspiration here, not even an 'argument' -- it's more a collection of research for the already converted.

Frostbike was a better book.
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Clearly, I'm already convinced of this so I'm perhaps not the ideal target audience or the most unbiased reading. Walker focuses on areas such as health, pollution, cost savings, and more to outline how much bigger, better planned and designed bike infrastructure can, perhaps, make the world a better place. I didn't agree with everything he said and it was a bit of a slog at times, but Walker brings up some very good issues and solutions. As an American, however, I wish there had been more empha ...more
Carol Sorensen
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a good summary of urban cycling and its issues! This book, though short, provides good information on thoughts, habits of thought, and initiatives the influence modern cycling and its challenges. I particularly liked the way the author interweaves the history of how cars and trucks came to dominate the roads, and their rights became supreme over that of other road users and pedestrian, as well as the challenges in unpacking that history. There's certainly a lot of food for thought.

I must sa
May 13, 2017 rated it liked it
I really liked the first chapter or so, where the author made a case for cycling being able to save the world. After that, there were some interesting stories. But I really wasn't the intended audience; I'm already completely sold on cycling. I also follow a few local urbanists on Twitter, so the ideas he presents weren't new to me. They are valid ideas, though, and for the most part I would like to see them realized in my neighborhood.
Doug Cornelius
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Weller makes a compelling case for how cycling can improve the world. Of course, as an avid bike commuter and recreational cyclist I came to the book to approve these ideas.

We are too sedentary which leads to tremendous health problems. Getting a little exercise will be great for all of us. Even better, combine it with a trip to the office or the store. Then it’s just transportation.
Elizabeth H.
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
this was a comprehensive primer on topics related to cycling, including its health benefits (studies done showing the immensity of this were laid out very convincingly in the first chapter) and social ramifications (arguments made for cycling as a way to equalize streets for people across different ages and sexes). would recommend!
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book, but then again I'm one of those who believes in biking and walking. If anything is within 5 miles I will bike or walk there as opposed to driving a car (unless I have to haul something there or back). I truly believe there are more of us than anyone would have guessed. Will probably recheck out of the library again so husband can read too.
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it
The book was well researched and well written, but a bit tedious to slog through all the city planning and statistics about negative car/cycling interactions. It was illuminating on it's true narrow subject matter, how cities can adapt to becoming cycling commuter cities.
Beth G
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loved this book! Reading it gave me hope for the future but also helped me to understand some of the challenges bicyclist, such as myself, face every day. I do believe cycling can save the world and will plan to ride even more now.
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Looks at the societal impacts of bikes and bike infrastructure in car dominating world. Predicts in 20 years more trips will be taken by bikes and less by car. Fun and fast read, no pictures no index. Has bibliography.
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Good information! After a while there was not a narrative arch to keep me reading, but I appreciate the information and message.
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Peter Walker is an expat new Zealand journalist who works in London.

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“people who commuted by bike had a 40 per cent lower chance of dying during the fifteen-year course of the project than those who didn’t. That’s not far short of a miracle. If these benefits could be administered in an injection, it would be considered one of the greatest medical breakthroughs of all time. The” 1 likes
“I delve into the mysterious and counterintuitive world of helmets and high-visibility gear later in the book. But it's worth immediately noting this: while they're not inherently bad, they're less a safety device for cycling than a symptom of a road network where no cyclist can truly feel safe.” 1 likes
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