The Art of Urban Cycling: Lessons from the Street

Overview

Road rash is a precious gift. Road rash is your friend.
Bask in it, appreciate it, love it. Above all, learn from it.
The bicyclist is under attack from all directions - the streets are ragged, the air is poison, and the drivers are angry. As if that weren’t enough, the urban cyclist must carry the weight of history along on every ride.
After a brief heyday at the turn of the twentieth century, American ...

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Overview

Road rash is a precious gift. Road rash is your friend.
Bask in it, appreciate it, love it. Above all, learn from it.
The bicyclist is under attack from all directions - the streets are ragged, the air is poison, and the drivers are angry. As if that weren’t enough, the urban cyclist must carry the weight of history along on every ride.
After a brief heyday at the turn of the twentieth century, American cyclists fell out of the social consciousness, becoming an afterthought when our cities were planned and built. Cyclists today are left to navigate, like rats in a sewer, through a hard and unsympathetic world that was not made for them. Yet, with the proper attitude and a bit of knowledge, urban cyclists can thrive in this hostile environment.
Author Robert Hurst dismantles the experience of urban cycling, slides it under the microscope, and examines it piece by piece. The primary concern of this book is safety, but Hurst goes well beyond the usual tips and how-to, revealing the bicycle’s historical truths and its pivotal role in the origin of the automobile, the psychology of blame and responsibility, the social advantage of communicating solidarity with drivers, and the economics of riding a bike. This book empowers readers with the big picture of bicycling - and gives riders useful insights to ponder while pedaling their next commute or grocery run. Riding a bike will never be the same.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762727834
  • Publisher: Globe Pequot Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2004
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Hurst is a native Coloradan who is just happy to be in one piece after working for seven years as a professional bike messenger in Denver. He celebrates his continued survival by spending time in the mountains, and by riding the world's most excellent trails. He is also the author of Mountain Biking Colorado's San Juan Mountains.

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Read an Excerpt

¿Road rash is a precious gift. Road rash is your friend. Bask in it, appreciate it, love it. Above all, learn from it¿

¿Even after a successful tuck-and-roll maneuver, the cyclist is left with a discomforting sense of the terrible force involved with hitting the street. The pavement is not soft. You never say to yourself, man, I want to try that again¿

¿The Door Zone is a brutal, sadistic taskmaster. The Door Zone is a total beeyotch.
Getting "doored," as it is universally known in the language of cycling, is a violent, completely unpleasant experience. Unfortunately, it's also a rite of passage for urban cyclists, who remain difficult to convince about the treacherous nature of the DZ until they experience it for themselves. Then they never want to go near a door again¿

¿Theoretically, the most effective stopping force that can be applied to a wheel comes at the moment just before the wheel locks up. This leads many to believe that the shortest stops will involve no skidding. On a bicycle, it doesn't work that way. The rear wheel skid is almost automatic when the front brake is applied correctly. Trying not to skid the rear wheel in a maximum stop is like trying to keep the eyes open during a sneeze¿

¿The cyclists' struggle for visibility has been a noble and long-fought effort. Problem is, it hasn't worked. No matter how much tinsel and ornamentation we attach to ourselves, no matter how many flashing beacons we strap to our backsides, no matter what previously unseen degree of neon insanity we manage to surpass in our jersey selections, some drivers continue to look right through us, as if we were-that's right—invisible.
The dream of visibility is a sweet siren's song that will, eventually, lead us into the rocks. Not that visibility is a bad thing, mind you, we all love visibility. It's just that an attitude of faith in visibility puts the rider on a slippery slope on the way to complacency, which is a very dangerous place for an urban cyclist to hang out¿

¿Consider the condition of some of the drivers locked in the typical urban traffic grid. They're trying to make a left turn, but all they see is an unbroken line of fast-moving vehicles coming at them, with no end in sight. They're late. They're hopped up on four cups of coffee.
fs20They're about to pee their pants. They've been waiting to make that left turn since the Mesozoic Era. Actually, they've been waiting about 30 seconds or so, but to them it seems like a very long time. Like the dinosaurs of the Mesozoic Era, their eyes are bigger than their brains. Suddenly, a small gap opens in oncoming traffic. They're going to hit that gap if it's the last thing they do. They stomp on the gas and crank the wheel. This is the Gap Effect in action.
One big problem, though-there's a cyclist in the gap, puttering along¿

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Table of Contents

(1) Understanding Cities (2) The City Surface (3) Air Pollution and the Urban Cyclist (4) In Traffic (5) On the Bike (6) Equipment Issues (7) Other Issues

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2004

    A deeper discussion than any others I've read.

    ¿The Art of Urban Cycling¿ by Robert Hurst provides quite another level of understanding for bicycling in urban traffic. The author says, ¿I possess no desire to be the pied piper of urban cycling, leading fat American motorists down the wide curb lane to freedom. This is a book for folks who are already aware of the bicycle¿s magic.¿ And, ¿Urban cycling requires a high level of engagement, mental and physical.¿ He gives us interesting in depth discussions about several subjects ¿ from the chapter titled ¿Frankenstein¿s Monster¿, his perspective of the history of bicycling in America in relation to the growth of automobile use; through ¿In Defense of Gutters¿, to the epilogue ¿Of Bicycles and Cities¿ where he states, ¿. . .if cycling makes cyclists happier, it¿s not because cycling is easy.¿ The author criticizes what he calls the ¿old-fashioned vehicular cycling¿ approach to bicycling that relies on legal traffic behavior. But, he states that John Forester¿s principle, that ¿cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as operators of vehicles¿ is a ¿stellar guideline¿ (especially) ¿¿ next to the absentminded anarchy (of) many novices.¿ And then he explains that bicyclists should not expect or seek to force the proper or legal actions of others. ¿The most effective way for a cyclist to stay out of trouble on city streets is to ¿ take on full responsibility for his or her own safety.¿ This book goes beyond the basics and the tips to explore in more depth the issues and situations that explain why good bicycling is an art more than a science.

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