Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

New book is a ‘Survival Guide’ for bicycling in American cities

Posted by on August 31st, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I got a review copy of The Urban Cyclists Survival Guide in the mail the other day. It’s a new book by Los Angeles based author James Rubin and published by Chicago-based sports book publisher Triumph Books.

I haven’t delved completely into the 250 or so pages of advice and tips; but the book’s packaging has already caught my eye due to how it makes bicycling seem like a risky and life-threatening proposition.

At the very least, the book sends mixed messages to potential riders (and buyers). On one hand, the book’s success relies on more people choosing to ride bikes. The headline of the back cover reads, “Shed Pounds and Save Money by Riding Your Bike to Work.”

However, the cover image shows a man doing a full, over-the-bars endo into the side of a car. The image echoes the tone of the title itself, with its focus on “survival.” Is that the type of words and imagery that will encourage someone to ride?

Also on the back cover are six “Survival Tactics” which include: locking techniques to thwart, “bicycle bandits”; how to choose “safe helmets and clothing”; what you need to know about sharing streets with, “road-raging drivers”; and legal tips from a lawyer on what to do “when” (not if) “you’re hit by a car.”

I hope my 8-year old daughter doesn’t get her hands on this book. Already cautious while we ride together, she might get downright scared.

A look at the chapter headings in the contents proves that the entire book is framed upon “How to survive” your decision to ride a bike in a city.

Scare-inducing tone aside, the book is full of great information on the nuts and bolts of becoming competent and confident on a bike in America’s car-centric urban areas. Stuff like pannier and cargo options, what accessories might make your ride more enjoyable, how to choose good routes, and so on.

And don’t get me wrong, newbies should be aware of the responsibility that comes with operating a bicycle alongside cars and trucks; but it seems to me like publishers (who are not alone in making bicycling seem more dangerous than it is) should be a bit more careful to not scare them out of the decision before they even make it.

(Disclosure: I sold several photographs to the publishers of this book and they appear throughout the chapters.)

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you.

  • matt picio August 31, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Interesting that there’s another of these books out – they seem to get published every 3-5 years. “The Art of Urban Cycling” is one which comes to mind, though that dealt more with tips & tricks than outright hazards.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Greg August 31, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Like it or not, cycling IS dangerous. For me the benefits outweigh the danger, but that could all change in a moment if I get complacent and make a mistake. I would much rather people have as much information about both the good and the bad before they hit the streets, but I suppose if one is focussed solely on “advocacy” one might wish to suppress information on the dangers.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Alex Reed August 31, 2011 at 1:40 pm

      I don’t think it’s any more dangerous than driving, especially when you consider the long-term health effects. When you add in the danger to *others*, driving starts to look downright risky….

      Recommended Thumb up 7

      • MikeBikeLux September 1, 2011 at 11:52 am

        Actually, statistically, it’s no more dangerous than walking, when you’re just cycling along, not engaging in some kind of sport.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 31, 2011 at 1:41 pm


      I suspected someone would have a reply like yours. I’m all for information… but what I felt was interesting about this book is how the information was packaged. In my opinion, the book oversells the danger, a tendency which is common in the American traffic culture psyche.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

    • R. Sewell August 31, 2011 at 4:27 pm

      No, cycling is not dangerous. You are 4x as likely to die cycling as you are to get hit by lighting. You are 2x as likely to die cycling as you are to die from a terrorist attack. Until the age of 44, you are more likely to be killed by:

      Yourself (suicide)
      Heart Disease
      Falling down
      Hitting something
      The environment
      A machine

      There are ~800 cycling deaths a year. There are 35,000 motor vehicle deaths a year. Do you think driving is dangerous?

      Recommended Thumb up 7

      • G2 August 31, 2011 at 5:05 pm

        And how many tight rope walking deaths per year are there? You have to look at incident counts compared to how often the activity is performed to get an accurate sense of danger.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

      • deadguydrew September 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm

        @R. Sewell

        While comparing the number of cyclist fatalities with the number of motorist fatalities is nice, without also giving the number of total cyclists/motorists your numbers have no worth. If you have 800 fatalities out of 1,000 riders (an example, not a statistic) compared to 35,000 out of 100,000,000 motorists (again, example) then I pretty sure we all would know which is the safer form of transportation.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Pete September 3, 2011 at 10:54 am

        In the book “Pedaling Revolution” the numbers were investigated and the conclusion was cycling is indeed more dangerous than driving on a per capita basis, a fact I find completely pointless, except that it attempted to somehow reinforce that if more people were cycling the numbers would improve.

        I agree with Jonathan, this is a book I’d take one look at the cover of and write off completely. Just my opinion, but I spend more time listening to people who don’t cycle tell me how dangerous it is (after spending decades cycling almost daily in traffic without being hit).

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • matt picio September 1, 2011 at 7:59 am

      Greg, you just described every activity anyone could ever do, including nothing. Everything will eventually kill you, if you do it long enough. Cycling is statistically less dangerous than many everyday activities we take for granted. You’re more likely to slip and fall in the shower and kill yourself than you are on a bicycle. (hi-risk bike stunts excepted)

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Scott August 31, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Cycling is risky, not for everyone, and cannot be made safe for everyone with anything short of installing a steel spike in place of an airbag that immediately kills the driver if he hits anything or the total elimination of any vehicle over 75 pounds gvw and limited to 4.5mph. These things are about as likely as Dick Cheney running on a libertarian ticket. It is dangerous. It isn’t for everyone. Sensationalism does sell. Know that math is against you in both F=MxAcc and in the percentages of you versus them.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Kristen September 1, 2011 at 10:26 am

      Cycling in itself isn’t dangerous. However, sharing the road space with distracted, complacent, angry, impatient and entitled drivers of multi-ton machines makes it a risky thing.

      The problem isn’t with cycling, as your post points out– it’s with the people driving.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Alex Reed August 31, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Yeah, messaging that makes biking look dangerous like this frustrates me. And why only “Shed Pounds and Save Money” when riding to work? Why not shed pounds and save money while riding the grocery store, picking up kids, etc. as well?

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Brian E August 31, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Are you judging this book by its cover? 🙂

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 31, 2011 at 1:48 pm

      yes… and by the chapter titles. But what I’m judging is how it makes bicycling appear to the casual person in the book store who picks up the book, wonders if bicycling is for them, and then quickly has their existing fears re-affirmed and validated and then moves onto another book, gets into their car and happily drives one mile back home. ;-).

      Recommended Thumb up 2

    • q`Tzal August 31, 2011 at 3:18 pm


      Its companion book should be “The Urban Pedestrian Survival Guide” where the Stick man is knock over on the ground still texting and tweeting.

      Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Scott August 31, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    There have also been studies which I think may have been discussed on this site linking respiratory problems to city cycling due to the higher intake of unchecked CO2. So healthy city cycling is still a little bit under the weather.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Deeeebo August 31, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Maybe its overkill but maybe its reality for many riders in various parts of the country. As a rider in Portland you, as the bike community, are a bubble within a bubble and I’m sure its easy to forget that if this is all you ever experience. However, when I biked in Richmond, VA I had the attitude that people in cars hated me and were actively trying to kill me and although not 100% accurate it served me well. I would guess that Portlanders alone are not the target audience. Fancy that.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

  • Emre August 31, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Yeah, that’s just life. I got hit by a car last week around 6th & Madison (right before the bridge). I was in the bike lane, driver merged into me while trying to get over to the lane on my right. It was in the morning, and since I was unconscious for half an hour, I don’t really remember anything about the car or what happened after that. I got a concussion, a few stitches to the chin and some bruises here and there.

    This week I’m riding my bike(s) again, so it’s business as usual. If anything, the accident was annoying, holding me back from having fun bike rides. Yeah, the driver who hit me is a jerk — but I let nature take its course, and knowing how terrible he/she is at controlling motor vehicles, I’m pretty certain that my hit-n-run driver will soon hit something else, and die miserably in the process. SO it’s cool.

    This is just part of a cyclist’s life. Last year, I was in an even worse crash — that time involving two cyclists (one in front of me, and some fixie/brakeless idiot who slammed into me from behind), with broken face, arm, wrist etc. and everything. Considering that I ride 150 miles a week, during early morning, lunch and right after work (i.e. in the worst possible traffic conditions), I don’t think the statistics are all that bad. I’m certainly not going to stop riding because it’s “dangerous” — we’re all going to die of cancer anyway.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Zaphod August 31, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Imagine a cover for a book about driving with a smashed windscreen and crumpled front end?

    Recommended Thumb up 5

    • Pete September 3, 2011 at 10:58 am

      …with an iPhone sitting on the dashboard.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Scott August 31, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Imagine a cover for a book about driving with a smashed windscreen and crumpled front end?

    Recommended 0

    That is exactly what the Driver’s Ed handbook had on the cover in Denver, CO 1992. The first five pages were all full color pictures of horrific accidents and bodies in the morgue.

    Recommended Thumb up 4

    • q`Tzal August 31, 2011 at 5:23 pm

      For DUI reduction purposes the USAF hauled wrecked cars & obliterated F350 sized trucks on base and placed them near major traffic slow down spots. They’d also include large posters of injured people.

      Often both the autos/and the people were nearly unrecognizeable. Still we had some dishonerable discharges, some after the 1st offense. That seemed to help some.

      Perhaps the same employers that refuse to hire anyone that doesn’t have a car might be inclined to fire people that lose the right to drive.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • matt picio September 1, 2011 at 8:00 am

      Cool – can we go back to that? Especially in COlorado? The drivers in Colorado are nuts.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • jeremy August 31, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Jonathan, I’m with you. I have been riding my bike to work and beyond for nearly 20 years, in cities (Portland, Phoenix, Denver, Indianapolis) small cities (Eugene, Iowa City) and small towns (Carbondale, CO; Los Olivos, CA) and in each case I have found the majority of people think of my riding as dangerous, odd, silly, whatever. I think how we talk about riding, and how it is portrayed in the media and on book covers IS important. This made me think about reading a story here about a transportation official (I forget who) who advocates that we stop calling bike/bus/train riding “alternative” transportation. I’d likely look at that book, but I would probably not buy it, and I more worry my wife would see and declare “see, it is dangerous, see that guy flipping over his handlebars!”

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Atbman August 31, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Like it or not, cycling IS dangerous. For me the benefits outweigh the danger, but that could all change in a moment if I get complacent and make a mistake. I would much rather people have as much information about both the good and the bad before they hit the streets, but I suppose if one is focussed solely on “advocacy” one might wish to suppress information on the dangers.

    Recommended 0

    How is cycling dangerous?

    Ah, yes, you might be hit by a motor vehicle.

    So, being hit by a motor vehicle is cycling, then?

    Er, no.

    So, what is cycling and how is it dangerous? There are ways of cycling dangerously, but that’s a diffrent subject. Part of the problem is that the public debate is often couched in these terms. But if you define the problem wrongly, i.e. it’s cycling which is dangerous, then you cannot arrive at a solution to the real problem, which is the dangers posed by
    a) cycling dangerously
    b) being endangered by other road users amongst other things, it’s led to the “WEAR A HELMET OR YOU WILL DIE!” campaign to encourage the safe and healthy activity of cycling

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Pete September 3, 2011 at 11:16 am

      Cycling is dangerous because you are balancing with skin exposed on 1″ contact patches on a vehicle you can go in excess of 40 MPH in unchecked. After decades of cycling almost daily in traffic, the three bike accidents I’ve had were caused by 1) a wet steel grate at the bottom of winding, narrow turn on a MUP in Mt View, CA, 2) black ice in a tree shadow, and 3) a crankarm shearing off while powering into a left turn keeping pace with traffic (fortunately not driven over by the car behind me, a testament that yes there are actually safe drivers on the road). Speed was not a factor in any of these crashes, incidentally.

      I disagree with the sentiment that cycling is not inherently dangerous unless the risk of being hit by a car is added. However, as I said before, I think focusing on that danger is pointless, we should focus on how to lessen that risk (such as build safe MUPs, educate both cyclists and drivers, and remember to fully tighten your crankarm bolts before riding in traffic :). I think this book might be attempting to do just that (lessen the risk through education), I just personally don’t like the way it’s packaged.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Paul Johnson September 3, 2011 at 1:43 pm

        That doesn’t make it more dangerous, that makes the personal injury consequences more severe. Also, there’s no such thing as a safe MUP. Any time you have pedestrians (which are exempt from the rules of the road) with vehicular traffic (which have rules that allow for safe, fast flow), you’re asking for a collision. Springwater on the Willamette on a busy weekend is a great example of why it’s a big issue, meanwhile the Riverparks East Trail in Tulsa is a great example of how to fix it by making a proper dedicated cycleway with attached, dedicated pedestrian facilities.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • esther c August 31, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I can’t imagine a book about any other activity that shows the worst possible scenario on the cover. You don’t see books about mountaineering featuring someone falling on the cover, likewise skiing.

    Maybe in this age of “extreme sports” someone thought if they made it look more dangerous it would appeal to people. Perhaps its the beginning of a new trend.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • are August 31, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    rowan has a blog also called the urban cyclist
    frankly, i do not have a problem with the tone. part of what makes transportational cycling in an urban environment so much fun is the fact that you have to be on at least yellow alert at all times. like a giant pinball game.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Alain August 31, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    As other comments have said, yes, cycling is dangerous, regardless of how we would like to perceive it. I’m now in my 18th year of using the bicycle as my primary mode of transport, and while I feel slightly safer with the improvements made for bicycles (lanes, signage, &c), I still have close calls every day I ride.

    In fact, I disagree with the comment that driving is more dangerous. As I see it, its the other way around due to the absence of a steel cage when riding my bike. The older I get, the more I see this as not a transportation issue or even a quality of life issue, it is simply put a human rights issue (David Engwicht wrote about this 20 years ago). One should be able to ride from point A to B in the city and not feel constantly threatened on top of having limited choses for safe routes to get somewhere.

    I think for children and seniors the risk is even greater. Like it or not (and I don’t), this is the environment I feel I cycle in every day. It’s unsafe. Heck, I still get yelled at on the road as people pass by in vehicles. Some yahoo the other day yelled within a foot of my ear “ride faster” as he passed by me. Experiences like this are what make me wince when I here comments about Portland being a great city for bicycles. Better than other places, sure, but a great city for bicycles, I disagree. Those cities don’t exist in the U.S., they exist in Europe and in other parts of the world. It’s getting better every day, yet I would not say I feel safe out there riding.

    I was looking at a photograph the other day and noticed a gas price sign in the photo that read “1.32/gal”. The price has tripled in the 10 years since that photo was taken, and while more people turn to bikes, the cost of gas is apparently not high enough to warrant a larger share of people riding, not even 10% of the city.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

    • Alex Reed August 31, 2011 at 4:34 pm

      My comment was meant somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Or at least, my real opinion is a little more nuanced than I let on.
      I feel reasonably certain that the risk of serious injury OR ILLNESS in a “high-bike” (assuming urban, and nice-ish streets to bike on) lifestyle is less or not much greater than the risk in a “high-car” (assuming sedentary like a large percentage of Americans) lifestyle.

      I do think you increase your risk of injury if you switch a given trip on a high-speed, high-traffic road from car to bike. But I don’t think that’s the most common switch, at least within Portland. I think when people switch to getting around more by bike, they (a) choose slower (AKA safer) streets and
      (b) sometimes choose shorter trips (e.g. going to the neighborhood grocery store rather than WinCo).

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Dave Thomson August 31, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    “I still have close calls every day I ride”. I have never understood this type of comment. Not picking on Alain, lots of people have posted similar comments on BP over the years. I have ridden thousands of miles a year for 40 years – on city streets, rural roads, and everywhere in between. I would estimate I have averaged less than one “close call” per year. To me a close call means if I hadn’t taken immediate, unplanned action I would have been hit. I would have to guess that others either have a much wider definition of “close call”, or they need to ride more alertly to avoid these types of situations.

    To be honest I have the same opinion of the overall comment tone on BP as I do of the book cover; they both communicate that cycling is much more dangerous that it really is.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • R. Sewell August 31, 2011 at 4:47 pm

      Indeed. There are few, if any statistics to back up people’s claims of “cycling is dangerous.” Virtually all of them boil down to anecdotes and media over-exposure.

      There were 15 cyclist deaths in Oregon last year. Sounds like a lot, until you compare it to pedestrian deaths (60), motor vehicle deaths (325), murder (85, 29 of which were just in Portland), or drowning (~80).

      If people don’t want to cycle because it’s “dangerous,” then they also shouldn’t drive, go near water, eat anything (~400 poisoning deaths/year in Oregon), go outside, or walk.

      Recommended Thumb up 4

      • Kristen September 1, 2011 at 10:31 am

        How many of the cycling deaths are attributed to cars?

        My problem with people saying “cycling is dangerous” is that what they are really saying is “cycling around people in cars and trucks is dangerous”.

        If you were cycling down a completely empty road, would you still say that cycling is dangerous? No. Because the major cause of the danger has been removed.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • dwainedibbly August 31, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Typical modern American media fear factory production.

    Sure there’s an element of danger. Anyone can see that. I think it’s all marketing. “Cycling can get you killed! Buy this book and learn the secrets that will keep you alive & well.”

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • wsbob August 31, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    The cover art for this book is ‘funny’.

    Another funny idea for cover art the publishers might consider:

    the silhouette of a car, filled with a passel of battling children, the elbow of the person behind the wheel cranked up in cell phone holding mode; from its cozy position on the lap of the person driving, the eyes of the family pooch peering down the road through the car’s steering wheel. Curvy lines on the road, ‘comically’ implying the car is weaving about erratically.

    Cover art illustrating unfortunately common activities such as this within moving cars would better help to explain why, in the graphic chosen for this book, the person on the bike is having the unhappy experience of ‘T-boning’ the car.

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Hart Noecker August 31, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    People who wear helmets already perpetuate the myth that cycling is a risky and life-threatening proposition.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

    • MIddle of the Road Guy August 31, 2011 at 10:54 pm

      tell that to one of the helmets I broke

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Hart Noecker August 31, 2011 at 11:29 pm

        Helmets are not supposed to break in a collision. Doing so is not proof of its effectiveness, nor of a guaranteed head injury had one not been worn. Far from providing protection from a collision, helmets dramatically reduce the number of cyclists willing to ride, and thereby make conditions for cyclists more dangerous as motorists are less accustomed to seeing bikes on roadways.

        Recommended Thumb up 2

        • Over and Doubt August 31, 2011 at 11:53 pm

          Yes they are. High-density expanded polystyrene will deform and/or break as it absorbs energy that otherwise would be transferred to your noggin. Sure you’re not thinking of non-HDPE shell-only helmets like for construction or for warding off rockfall when rock climbing?

          Recommended Thumb up 1

        • wsbob September 1, 2011 at 1:05 am

          “…helmets dramatically reduce the number of cyclists willing to ride, …” Hart Noecker

          How could helmets possibly do that? In most of the U.S. except for those 16yrs of age and under, people don’t even have to wear a helmet if they don’t want to.

          Maybe you’re suggesting that the mere sight of a bike helmet induces mass public delusional paranoia to the effect that riding a bike is generally dangerous. That kind of paranoia is more associated with the need amongst large numbers of the public, that in order to go through life safely, they must have I-pods and recordings of Bieber.

          Everybody else is rational enough to understand the limited levels of protection those types of things can offer, and bike helmets as well where they might have occasion to be worn.

          Recommended Thumb up 1

    • wsbob August 31, 2011 at 11:28 pm

      People wear bike helmets to provide themselves a little extra protection against unforeseeable crashes, not to perpetuate some myth that riding a bike is generally a risky and life threatening proposition. They aren’t responsible for interpretations and conclusions others choose to make upon seeing people wearing bike helmets, that biking is dangerous.

      The relative safety and hazards associated with riding a bike isn’t a simple ‘black/white’ equation. Different degrees of safety and hazard go along according to the type of cycling being engaged in. People considering riding a bike for something more serious than circles around the driveway are going to be doing themselves a favor by looking into just what kind of situations the type of riding they’re considering, will bring them into.

      I haven’t looked it over yet, but books like the one that’s the subject of this story might have info in its content that will be able to help people in that quest. It’s hard though, to think of the cover illustration for this book as much more than a dumb choice. That illustration is simple minded. It doesn’t inform in an intelligent manner. Maybe for cheap laughs, it appears to just promote an ignorant conclusion some road users seem to hold, that most people on bikes don’t know where they’re going, so they run into cars. Sorry to have tell you this, http://www.triumphbooks.com/ , but that conclusion is dumb, as is, once again….the choice of cover art of the person on the bike t-boning the car…absent any effort to explain why the person on the bike happens to be in that situation.

      Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Mele August 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Let’s just say I wasn’t surprised when you said the author was based in LA. When I was commuting by bike in LA, every day I made it to work without getting into a crash I felt like I had beaten heavy odds. It really does feel like a survival game down there…

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Pscyclepath September 1, 2011 at 5:55 am

    As an LCI, one word I don’t use is “dangerous.” Yes, cycling has its risks just like any other means of transportation, but those risks can be controlled by some simple behavioral modifications. This guy is capitalizing on fear to sell books.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Paul Johnson September 1, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Why pay for this when most states publish bicyclist manuals?

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • are September 1, 2011 at 2:23 pm

      i have never seen a state bicycle manual that begins to provide the kind of strategic thinking you need to employ to actually thrive on a bike in an urban environment. i have not read this particular book, but there are similar books out there that provide much more insight than a state manual ever could.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • annefi September 1, 2011 at 10:34 am

    There’s annoying potential for confusing this new book with the excellent book published by Robert Hurst in 2004: “The Art of Urban Cycling,” which was republished in 2007 as “The Art of Cycling: A Guide to Bicycling in 21st-Century America.”

    Hurst’s book is my bike riding bible. It is full of history, equipment information, and practical advice that can prepare a person to ride more safely and responsibly in the city.

    Hurst gives readers a collection of mental and skill tools, accompanied by an objective discussion of the dangers inherent in urban cycling, without making it appear to be an extreme sport. I re-read parts periodically to refresh my memory and keep the strategies second nature. I strongly recommend “The Art of Cycling” over this new book.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Jon September 1, 2011 at 10:57 am

    I’ve been riding for a bit over 20 years as a part time bicycle commuter. Any time I am riding a road bike I am riding defensively. Two wheels are inherently less stable than four and in any accident with a motor vehicle I know that even if I was in the right, I’m the one who will be injured. No driver will ever be injured when a bicycle runs into them. Staying aware of just a few things makes cycling much safer:
    1. Intersections are dangerous for everyone.
    2. Watch for right and left hooks.
    3. Avoid riding after dark.
    4. Never assume a driver sees you.

    Cars are extremely safe these days. If you are a sober driver moving at city speeds in a modern car your chances of being injured in an accident are extremely low. Even running into a pole a 20 mph would likely result in no injury. How many cyclists have broken collar bones this year just crossing light rail tracks? Try running into a pole at 10 mph on a bike. You are not walking away from that.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • R. Sewell September 1, 2011 at 1:37 pm

      Virtually all of them, but even with that in mind, cycling is still safer than driving.

      How can you call something that kills 35,000+ people a year, just in the US, “extremely safe?”

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • El Biciclero September 1, 2011 at 11:33 am

    I like the distinction an earlier commenter made between “cycling is dangerous” and “cycling dangerously”. There are techniques to be learned in order to minimize the risks of cycling in traffic. I’ve been riding in various capacities (commuting, recreation, etc.) since I was a kid (i.e., for over 30 years), and I’ve never been hit by a car. I’ve had a few close calls where pretty extreme evasive action was necessary to avoid being hit, but learning those evasion techniques and learning how to leave yourself room/time to perform them is part of what makes cycling safer for an individual. It does bug me that bike crash statistics include incidents where cyclists were run over while doing dangerous things such as riding the wrong way on the sidewalk at night with no lights. If you avoid doing the dangerous things that cyclists sometimes do, your personal “danger” factor goes way down, and the statistics don’t entirely apply to you.

    I think the controversy expressed in these comments about this particular guide revolves around how to communicate the need to learn techniques of safer cycling. Do we need to learn safe cycling practices because “it’s a jungle out there” and some killer beast lurks at every turn? Or would we rather maximize our safety and enjoyment by learning the best practices that help cyclists integrate with traffic rather than fight against it?

    It’s too bad we’ve entered The Fear Age and everyone is so busy building (and paying for) their personal bunkers (rolling and stationary, physical and mental) that all they can do is point and gasp in incredulous horror at those enjoying bunkerless freedom.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • roger noehren September 1, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I agree that the cover of this book perpetuates the culture of fear with which urban cycling is branded. It seems to be a take off of the road sign showing a bike rider about to flip over their handlebars when their front wheel got caught in a streetcar track, which has become a popular t-shirt and is certainly something that an urban cyclist must deal with.
    A photograph of a cyclist dressed in reflective rain gear, wearing a helmet with bright lights, surrounded by cars, buses and trucks in pouring rain would be a realistic image, but also perhaps somewhat off putting. Ideally the tone & cover of such a book should convey a sense that a bicycle is a really great way of getting around town (if you’re sensible and pay attention).
    After reading the “Put a Helmet on it, Portland” editorial in the Oregonian (Aug 21st, 2011), I did some research on the effects on ridership of mandatory helmet laws. I first watched this entertaining and informative video: http://video.tedxcopenhagen.dk/video/911034/mikael-colville-andersen about the culture of fear and then came across this web site: http://cyclehelmets.org/1146.html ,which has a lot of interesting discussion about the relative safety of cycling compared to other activities and especially inactivity (most deadly) and other associated topics.

    Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Little Package September 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    I’m really good on the bike, and downright daring, but lately I’ve been scared! It’s probably a good thing to be a little bit afraid on these roads, and to keep both the good and the bad outcomes in mind.

    Anyway, semantics suck.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Hugh Johnson September 2, 2011 at 7:30 am

    If nothing else, perhaps a better choice could have been made in the cover art.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • saumacus September 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    One of the authors (there are two) of the book posted a promotional piece on his blog. You mihgt find a discussion (http://www.chicagonow.com/urban-cyclist/2011/09/critical-massholes-when-cyclists-are-the-problem-not-solution/#) interesting. More could be found here: http://www.thechainlink.org/forum/topics/critical-massholes-by-scott-rowan-a-k-a-the-urban-cyclist?x=1&id=2211490%3ATopic%3A457057&page=1#comments

    Recommended Thumb up 0