Street-smart Cycling – Survival Guide for the Urban Cyclist By Joshua Sherman
Did you know that riding a bike that has a too-narrow seat could have negative, long-term effects on the stimulation of your nether regions? How about the fact that some Toronto intersections have special markings showing cyclists where to stop in order to trigger the next green light?
Those are just a couple of tidbits gleaned from Yvonne Bambrick’s The Urban Cycling Survival Guide, a sort of crash course in virtually all things related to biking in and around a city.
Naturally, new and potential cyclists will get the most from this book, and it starts right from the beginning by focusing on how to pick out the right ride. But there’s enough here to appeal to seasoned cyclists too, so whether you’re a Lycra-clad commuter, or a weekend warrior, you’ll probably walk away wiser than before, particularly due to the book’s breadth. Special topics like riding during pregnancy or with pets get treated just as fundamentals like hand signals and riding at night do.
The book’s comprehensiveness shouldn’t be surprising; Bambrick comes at this subject with a stacked resume. A founder of the advocacy group Cycle Toronto who contributes to cycling-specific publications Dandyhorse and Momentum, she writes clearly and confidently, occasionally drawing on personal anecdotes.
Throughout, Bambrick’s tone is relatively conversational, so the text doesn’t get bogged down in page after page of just dry facts or advice. Take the “Cyclist-on-Cyclist Etiquette” section, for example. In it, Bambrick writes, “Riding the wrong way in a bike lane is not cool. Locking to someone else’s bike is even less cool!” Meanwhile, Marc Ngui’s pastel-tinged illustrations break up text nicely, his slightly cartoon-y style complements the book’s sometimes light-hearted tone.
Unlike other self-proclaimed survival guides that address topics such as how to get into grad school or face a zombie insurgency, Bambrick’s title isn’t hyperbolic. Tips contained within truly can make the difference between life and death. And that’s really one of the best things The Urban Cycling Survival Guide has going for it: If readers make an effort to follow its teachings, they’ll most definitely be safer on the street.