Book Review: Bike Nation

Authour: Peter Walker
Publisher: Penguin
Published: 2017
ISBN: 9781911214946
Available as paperback and e-book

I can highly recommend this book: it makes the case for cycling (environmental, health improvement, social justice) in a clear, accessible and non-preachy way. It’s an easy and quick read with useful facts and great quotes. The book is particularly good on cycling and culture – why cyclists are often treated as an outgroup and the worrying tendency towards victim blaming. 

You don’t make cycling safe by obliging every rider to dress up as if for urban warfare, or to work a shift at a nuclear power station. You do it by creating a road system that insulates them from fast-moving and unpredictable road traffic. 

This would be an excellent book to have to hand when debating the merits of cycling… and if every councillor and transport officer at CYC would read this perhaps we’d have the cycling infrastructure we deserve in York…

Why are more cities and nations not building the sort of bike networks proven time and again to get many more people cycling and then keep them safe? The answer, as ever, is a toxic mixture of vested interests, inertia and a lack of political vision, much of it fuelled by damaging and pervasive myths about cycling and cyclists.

For politicians the message is clear: be bold. Build the lanes. Block off the back-street car cut-throughs and rat runs. Don’t take half-measures, as they will end up pleasing nobody. And remember, if you show sufficient vision and push through some decent cycling infrastructure, then it will be used, and by more people than you can imagine.  

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