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How Cycling Can Save the World

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  446 ratings  ·  70 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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Ryan There really aren't any, because there's nothing really to criticize about cycling. I mean, google it and you'll find a thousand rants about those "da…moreThere really aren't any, because there's nothing really to criticize about cycling. I mean, google it and you'll find a thousand rants about those "damn cyclists," but that's not exactly a thoughtful analysis- just people bitching. Are some cyclists rude and aggressive? Sure. But so are some drivers. Cycling is just another mode of transportation- a mode that makes its users healthier, helps them save money, lessens traffic (each bike is "one less car") for those who drive, makes parking more available for those who choose to drive, etc. (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: non-fiction, library, 2017
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
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
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book. This book. This book!
Obviously, it is preaching to the choir for me, but it’s such straightforward and pleasant read that I recommend it to everyone! Yes, bikes will save the world and I can only encourage others to read this book if they want to know why and how.
A few days before I finished this book, one of my coworkers told me to put “my bike shit” away because my helmet, yellow vest and e bike battery were sitting on a desk and could hinder a business deal (the client was visiting
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
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 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.
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.
Sherrard Ewing
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
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.
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.
Brent Woo
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: know-things, pubtrans
A useful quiver of sobering anecdotes and studies supporting a cycling lifestyle. It's not going to change a car driver's mind on its own—probably like giving the God Delusion to a monotheist—but it's useful ammo to have in public discussions. Two things I'll definitely remember:

(1) the overall thesis and argument is that the first goal is to get cycling into the realm of "things normal people do to get around normally", and out of the realm of "only middle-aged white guys in spandex". Walker a
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
Bharath Ballamudi
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book explores and blends the history behind the evolution of the urban transportation propelled by the advancement and introduction of new technologies. The author ties it all back to the ever changing and accompanying perspectives, attitude and culture it shaped for the contemporary urban dwellers and in turn their implications for the govt to bring about change in the transportation landscape.

The book outlines the events and the studies that ensued thereafter, involving the bikers treatmen
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 increased bicy
Nothing was more indicative of the goodness of this book than this quote right here:

"Strictly speaking, a cyclist is just someone who chooses a bike as one of what is probably several means of transport, or forms of leisure. It is true that some people feel a more tribal affinity with cycling. They might read bike magazines, even hang around bike shops chatting about tires and chain lube. But even those who approach the Staten Island Advance's idea of a 'devotee' will probably also watch TV, or
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
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
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
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
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I live in a city with very good bike infrastructure, at least compared to other US cities. I love living car-free, which means biking sometimes, especially in warm months. But this book had convinced me to put effort into biking more often and advocating for even more biking infrastructure in my neighborhood and city. This book was a lot of new info for me, so it wasn't preaching to the choir for me. Walker lays out such a comprehensive argument, I can't imagine anyone not being convinced. I als ...more
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: urbanism
A short read about the many benefits of cycling, from personal health to creating vibrant communities. He relates poor cycling infrastructure with behavioural changes in cyclists - causing things like wearing bright clothing to riding on sidewalks. He points out that the way we design our world highlights our love of cars and that we can change the way we build things to highlight our love of the people who live in our world.
I want to buy a copy to give to each of my city councillors and planne
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.
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.
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16 likes · 4 comments
“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.” 2 likes
“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
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