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Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality
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Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  240 ratings  ·  29 reviews
In car-clogged urban areas across the world, the humble bicycle is enjoying a second life as a legitimate form of transportation. City officials are rediscovering it as a multi-pronged (or -spoked) solution to acute, 21st-century problems, including affordability, obesity, congestion, climate change, inequity, and social isolation. As the world’s foremost cycling nation, t ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 28th 2018 by Island Press (first published April 28th 2018)
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Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Book about success stories in building bike-friendly cities. Mostly about Dutch cities, but also from other places like New York and Vancouver. The book fawns over the Dutch a lot, using the metaphor "Dutch DNA" and repeatedly pointing out that they bike regularly without thinking about it. There are a lot of success stories in many Dutch cities: Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Eindhoven and more.

There are some interesting content, such as bike as vans as well as "avid biker" vs "regular person
Nadia Aubin-Horth
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book uses examples from Dutch cities to describe how a city can be human-sized and livable by reallocating space given traditionally to cars towards other transportation modes, particularly walking and cycling. The book talks about the cycling city, and over and over we realize that this really means the human-scale city, and that the ultimate goal is to reduce car-centric infrastructures. The book is positive and exciting, but it is also realistic. Examples of success come with examples of ...more
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a terrible book to read before trying to sleep. Every chapter left me wanting to be a bike advocate, open a bike shop, ride my bike, or visit and see some of the bike architecture that was described.

This book forced me to re-think the utilitarian, including electric assist. It described a place I remember in the Netherlands and made me want to go back again (and again?) and appreciate all they've accomplished since I lived there quite some time ago.

I was delighted to better understand
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
First, this book smells like a new college textbook and I kept smelling the fumes of paper and paste and it’s lovely. It also reads a bit like a textbook and I can totally seeing future city planners reading this for a class, though it’s also accessible to the layperson. It outlines the auto and bicycle history of the Netherlands and also draws some parallels to bicycles efforts in other parts of the world.

The Netherlands was not always the bikey place we currently imagine. After WWII, many of
Samir Thacker
Apr 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
While the idea of using a bike for all trips or using public transport over a Car is exciting but hard to imagine in countries like India, where I live, due to the harsh hot and humid climate and unimaginable population density, the book is too good to be passed off. It should be made a mandatory reading for anyone joining office in Town or Urban Planning department, anywhere in the world.

I could imagine how such a transformation could be done in Ahmedabad, the city I live in, as if I were a pa
Dave Carr
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm a bit of a pervert when it comes to Dutch cycling infrastructure so this book was right up my fietspad. This is a pretty standard urban planning book which essentially outlines exactly the key transport planning strategies used within the Netherlands. I was impressed by both the range of stakeholders that were interviewed and the array of cities that were covered within the book. Often when people cover Dutch cycling infrastructure it is often with a very Amsterdam-focused viewpoint, so I wa ...more
Nov 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 20s, bicycle-urbanism
I was a little disappointed with this book. Written by two Canadians who traveled the Netherlands as reporters, this whole work feels very surface-level. Some of the chapters I could have written myself based on a single week I spent during my Bicycle Urbanism course in the Netherlands a year before this book was published. We met with the same people and toured the same infrastructure. I thought this book more encapsulated my already-existing knowledge about bicycle mobility rather than adding ...more
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is really good, thorough analysis of what elements contribute to a cycling city, but it’s much lighter on why its a good idea and how to achieve it. But then the sub-title is about a “blueprint” so that might be what they intended to achieve. It’s still 100% worth reading.
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was written by a married couple (the Bruntletts) who love the bicycle and wanted to learn how the Netherlands ended up being such a bike utopia. For anyone who has been to Amsterdam and wondered the same thing, or just the bike-curious (see what I did there?), this is a well-written and simultaneously fun and serious treatise.
I think the take away that will surprise people but makes perfect sense in context stems from the observation that the Dutch actually have two terms for cyclists
Rick Lindeman
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: urban-design
De familie Bruntlett kwam in 2016 voor een fietsreis naar Nederland.
Ze waren al een aantal jaar geleden van de auto afgestapt, gewaagd
voor een Canadees, maar nu wilden ze kijken hoe fietsparadijs
Nederland tot stand kwam. Dat resulteerde in dit boek, 'Building the
Cycling City' en uiteindelijk in hun verhuizing naar Nederland.

Bruntlett en Bruntlett hebben met dit boek een breed palet aan
perspectieven willen brengen, over hoe de Nederlandse fietscultuur nu
echt werkt. Zoals Pete Jordan, met zijn gew
Richard (Rick)
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
We enjoyed living in the Netherlands for a semester and saw first hand how remarkable their cycling infrastructure is. As the author states, the most remarkable thing about it is how unremarkable it is to the Dutch. It isn't anything special, it's just their regular life. But it really is genius. Up to 50% of Dutch people bike instead of drive, depending on the city, and the bike infrastructure is so safe, protected, and intersection free that you can often get where you want to go faster on a b ...more
Edward B.
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An excellent short introduction on making cities pleasant, convenient, safe, human-scale by de-emphasizing private cars and trucks in favour of pedestrians, bike-riders, and public transport.

It considers the question under a variety of aspects, and recounts the evolution of many Dutch cities - which drank the conventional koolaid about cars in the decades after World War II, but then realized the damage that that model was doing to cities and people and community, and have spent the last fifty y
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The stories, data, and examples the authors share are really interesting. It made me think about how building a cycling culture is about a lot more than just adding more miles of bike lanes to a city. One key factor is having visionary local elected leaders. Another is making it easy to combine biking and taking public transportation in a daily commute, and making it cheaper than driving and parking.

Also it made me really want to travel to The Netherlands!

My one tiny issue with the book is that
Philip Patterson
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Although the focus was on cycling, it's message extends to say that we ought to look to the Netherlands to help us better interact and transport around our cities.

Each chapter contained a clear and reasoned argument, supplemented by interviews and historical stories, as to why the Netherlands ended up choose the bike or bike and train as their primary method of transportation and how they are better off for it.

I was accidentally given this book twice for Christmas due to it being the only thing
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Nice book about cycling and examples (mostly Dutch cities, you guessed it) where cycling infrastructure do more than just enable cycling indeed.

I wish it would have treated deeper the technical solutions implemented in the various scenarios/cities.

I also think it could have done a better job in describing/bringing up the negative sides of all the "bike fights" or when things didn't work as expected. It sometimes gives the feeling as if a fanboy is telling all those stories (and I am telling this
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This excellent overview shows that the world-leading adoption of bikes as urban transport in The Netherlands is no overnight success, but rather the result of several decades of consistent policy by Dutch governments. Melissa and Chris Bruntlett also show that different Dutch cities faced very different challenges due to their distinct patterns of development. What makes the book so valuable to a wider audience is its many sections showing how lessons learned by the Dutch are now being applied i ...more
Cyrus Molavi
Apr 08, 2019 added it
Shelves: own
I think I've hit my saturation point for cycling books.

This was a pleasant, varied collection of stories that hit a niche about which I have plenty of curiosity. How do they think about cycling in the Netherlands? How might we apply some of that thinking in North America?

I'm not going to rate it though, because I think it's a lot better than how I felt while reading it: mostly that it would have resonated more completely with someone newer to these stories. I feel happy that this book exists b
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cycling
I don't know why I didn't record this in Goodreads when I read it.

Probably the most remarkable thing about this was that it was quite readable - I read the whole thing from start to finish.

The main point is that there was no single path for Dutch cities that have successfully achieved a more ideal balance between cyclists and motorists and that there is more to be learned from the different ways success was achieved that we might imagine.
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Cycling is the antidote to the car culture. The Dutch have made cycling a way of life from a young age and they have learned to incorporate cycling infrastructure into their cities. But it's not just the Dutch. Cities in New Zealand, Canada, and the U.S. are moving to include more human scale design elements into their spaces.

Cycling is healthier and non-polluting. There are even innovative options for cargo bikes.

Give the book a spin!
Fernando Fernandez
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting read, with a relevant topic treated in a very casual but informative style.

Crucially, you don't need to be an urban expert to feel engaged. The book lies halfway between scientific and casual reading, thankfully taking the positives of each.
Oct 12, 2019 added it
A good overview of the ways that a few Dutch cities make cycling an everyday part of the commute, and the design changes and cultural practices that encourage biking. It covers bikes and bike paths, parking and trains, learning to ride a bike and more.
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
As this is all but an academic paper it is a little dry at times but it puts forward a great argument that if other countries follow the Dutch example and reverse the car centric focus to urban planning and improve cycling infrastructure then both cities and society will benefit.
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great look at how a culture of biking develops. Lots of small insights. It is not a how to manual but an exploration of how the dutch have transformed cities over many years. Starting with small changes that have lead to lasting change.
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think about bike lanes everywhere now. What a great practical way to improve life for everyone.
Barbara McVeigh
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Academic, but informative examination on how to rethink the infrastructure and design of our cities. It can be done!
Luke Van Santen
Nov 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Great examples, confirmation there is no magic bullet.
Bridger Putnam
Mar 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Decent history of cycling in an urban context, but reads like a series of vignettes of cities' successes and failures in promoting biking as transport. Would have liked more analysis into exactly what the Dutch did to fight off the post-WWII development pattern, and takeaways for the Western world. ...more
Jerome Laviolette
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lu-2018
This is a great book, that truly shows how the Dutch became a bicycle nation. Beyond the flatness of their country, Melissa & Chris show us through their eyes and the eyes of key players in the Dutch cycling planning world, how to mainstream a bicycle culture. How to make the bicycle the most normal way to go around your daily travels.
Every chapter includes a section on how a North American city is implementing a Dutch best practice in city cycling planning.

As a Transportation Engineer, I'm now
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What I mostly remember from this book: the car-centric urban way of living is not inevitable. Several cities have for the last 40 years realized that urban planning that focuses on people (bikes or pedestrians) make for a better quality of life. Activist groups in partnership with visionaries in elected offices in the several cities used as examples in this book (in Holland, as well Vancouver, Calgary, New York and Seattle) worked to reverse the onslaught of the automobile into their way of life ...more
Peter Tran
rated it really liked it
Dec 13, 2018
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