The Bicycle Commuter’s Handbook* by Robert Hurst would make thoughtful gift for someone contemplating commuting by bicycle. This pocket/purse size book packs a lot of useful information into its 97 pages. However, an urban rider with 5-8 years of experience would enjoy this book as an entertaining refresher with some perhaps new ideas.
The included sections are “Equipment and Clothing,” “Preparation,” “The Ride,” “At Work,” and “Routine Maintenance.”
“Preparation” has some good thoughts on route planning based on different skills and riding preferences. Among tips that would be evident to an experienced rider but valuable to a newcomer is the observation that the most important ingredient for a bicycle friendly street is the attitude of the people who use it. Street features the author recommends avoiding include high traffic speeds, on-street parking, time-sapping traffic signals, oblivious pedestrians, interstate entrance/exit ramps, high schools(!), damaged road surfaces, and bad attitude or “street vibe.”
Again for the prospective commuter, “The Ride” section has a number of tips to avoid trouble – better to read about them and be prepared rather than to discover that, for example, longitudinal cracks can get you in trouble.
One not so obvious observation in the “At Work” section is the attitude about cycling and cyclists commonly held by one’s non-cycling co-workers, subordinates, and supervisors. While the experienced cyclist already will have experienced this phenomenon, it might be “news” to the budding commuter the first time she clumps into the office in helmet with a messenger bag. The author notes that the USA never had a bicycle commuter culture, so forewarned is forearmed.
One helpful section covers diagnosing (and correcting) bicycle fit issues by the nature of the pain experienced. This and other straightforward bicycle fit tips are a break from what one might have read in articles that are more “technical.”
Overall, this is a nice little book – well written and well organized.
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*Hurst, Robert, The Bicycle Commuter’s Handbook, (Guilford, CT), 2013, ISBN 978-0-7627-8468-4, US$12.95.