Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Book Review: Urban Cycling

Madi Carlson, Family Cycling Advocate & Author of Urban Cycling
I was excited to hear a few months ago that Madi Carlson, of had published a book & once I got my hands on a copy, I wasn't disappointed. Urban Cycling: How to Get to Work, Save Money, & Use Your Bike for City Living is accessible, informative, & chock full of tips for newbies or even veteran riders. Sprinkled with personal anecdotes, seasoned with profiles of biking advocates including their useful advice, & Madi's humour peppered throughout, Urban Cycling is an engaging read.

Madi starts out with a little personal history & quickly gets to the most important reason to ride: it's fun & lets you to experience your community in a way that car & transit travel don't really allow.
Chapter two of Urban Cycling is all about the bike: different types, maintenance & repair, the basic "anatomy" of a bike with lots of photos & diagrams throughout that help you get to know your bike better. Urban Cycling is also a great reference book for learning bike maintenance, or just learning enough to clearly explain to your mechanic what's going on.

Chapters 3 & 4 are all about parts & accessories will arm even the most tentative beginner with enough information to make wise choices at their local bike shop. Though it's great to find the perfect fit the first time, Madi reminds us that bikes are relatively cheap compared to cars--changing a seat or pedals isn't going to set you back much. Now before you start seeing dollar signs, I should assure you that Madi doesn't assume her reader has money to burn. Her advice is to use what you've got; there's no need to drop a ton of money on a new ride if you've got a bike that works.

Madi leaves an entire chapter for advice on family cycling. Chapter 11 is 22 pages of gold to help you decide what gear will work to tote your tot(s) by bike, covering issues like getting kids used to helmets, dressing for the weather, & dealing with the inevitable--now more public--tantrums along your route.

Navigating urban bike infrastructure like sharrows & bike boxes translates well from the US to Canada. Nearly all of what's mentioned in Urban Cycling is the same here, aside from neighbourhood greenways, the quiet side streets with traffic calming which we typically call bikeways or bike routes (like Ontario street in Vancouver).

Cycling advocate Madi isn't one to leave things at getting you on the road. She wants you to get involved. Urban Cycling mention organizations helpful for getting more involved, be it social rides or ways to join the movement to make cities more friendly to people on bikes. Urban Cycling: How to Get to Work, Save Money, & Use Your Bike for City Living is available online, in bike shops, at book stores, for $25.95 CAD.

Even better: you can pick up a copy, & have your book signed by the author at Tandem Bike Cafe this Saturday (March 26) from 2-5pm. More details & RSVP on the Facebook event page here.

To read more about Madi, check out my interview with her right here on Spokesmama & find out why she *gasp* doesn't bike to school with her kids! ;)

Follow Spokesmama here too:

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