Book review: Cycling for Sustainable Cities

by Johanna Bergerman, Board Member, Saskatoon Cycles

Cycling for Sustainable Cities edited by Ralph Buehler and John Pucher published by MIT Press 2021 (available at Saskatoon Public Library)

This book is a timely read in a soon-to-be post-pandemic world that is ready for substantive changes to urban living. The editors of this book, Ralph Buehler and John Pucher, see cyclists as leaders of the change movement to more livable cities. They have assembled a broad overview of the cycling research that demonstrate how cities that have invested in cycling infra structure are documenting the impacts. Active transport, and in particular cycling, can create positive changes to personal health and longevity, urban vitality, and environmental health.

Noteworthy are the four categories of cyclists that researchers have identified for the purposes of research and policy development. As a reader you might be interested to know what category you fall into. Are you one of the “strong and fearless” 1%, the “enthused and confident” 6%, the “interested but concerned” 60% or the “no way no how group 33%?

If you belong to the “interested but concerned group” who want a safer world for ordinary cyclists of all ages, this book can provide you with evidence to support your motivation for cycling and the language to advocate for integrating cycling into everyday urban living.

Women who are cyclists may be interested to know that researchers have also identified them as the “indicator species” for a cycling friendly environment.

If you are an older adult cyclist, or someone who would like to get back to cycling, researchers have found that cycling can facilitate a more socially connected world that is of particular benefit to this group.

Editors of this book point out that if you live in a low-income area of the city, with limited transportation options, cycling becomes more than recreational or utilitarian cycling, it is an equity issue that shows us how bike lanes are “white lanes.” Unfortunately, the social justice and equity focus in this book did not include the cycling needs of those dealing with disabilities.

The main focus of this book is to point out that the key to equitable access to cycling is to build infrastructure that separates cyclists from motorists. This book provides the most recent evidence to support city councillors that are moving in that direction.

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