Bicycle Books by John Forester

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Effective Cycling is a handbook for cyclists. It contains everything that a road cyclist needs to know to use his bicycle every day, for any purpose he desires, under all conditions of road, traffic and topography, and under all reasonable conditions of weather. EC starts with the selection and care of the bicycle, and care of the cyclist. It progresses to the methods by which the cyclist controls his bicycle, and then to the techniques for using the bicycle in its normal operating environments.

For many readers, the section on cycling in traffic is the heart of the book. Contrary to popular belief, cycling in traffic is neither particularly difficult nor particularly dangerous. Traffic operates according to rational principles (five being most important), and the traffic laws for drivers of vehicles follow these principles. Cyclists who operate in accordance with the traffic laws for drivers of vehicles (which is what the law requires) encounter few problems and have a low accident rate. This is the vehicular-cycling principle: "Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles." The problem is that people have been taught to fear cycling in the vehicular manner. They have been taught that obeying the traffic laws on a bicycle will kill them. As Forester describes the cyclist-inferiority superstition: "The cyclist who rides in traffic will either delay the cars or will be crushed. The first is Sin and the second is Death, and the Wages of Sin is Death." That is false. The groups of cyclists who are most likely to be obeying the traffic laws, and hence are commonly supposed to be taking great risks, have an accident rate only one-fifth of that of those who ride fearfully and disobey the traffic laws to avoid the accidents they fear. The problem is that the fear that controls the fearful cyclists is of the accident type that is only 0.3% of accidents to cyclists, being hit from behind by a car. Trying to avoid this 0.3% makes them worse risks for all the other types. Cycling in traffic is not exactly like driving a car. The cyclist is often slower than other traffic, but he is also narrower. One difference offsets the other, and EC shows the cyclist just how to modify the technique used for full-width vehicles to ride safely with little disturbance to motorists.

The traffic section is followed by chapters on cycling at night, in the rain, and in cold. Cycling is much more fun when you enjoy it, so there are chapters on enjoying commuting and utility cycling, mountain riding, cycling with a club, touring, and beginning to race. The last section considers cycling in its social setting.

While many readers think of Forester's sociological analysis as outside their interest, Forester considers this part of the book to be as important as the traffic-cycling section. That tells the cyclist how to operate properly in the vehicular manner. The sociological section tells the cyclist why society, with the power of government, insists on policies and programs that oppose vehicular-style cycling. To counter this, EC recommends political action to restore social and governmental acceptance of vehicular-style cycling. The traffic-cycling section tells the cyclist how to operate; the sociological section tells the cyclist how to defend, preserve, and support his right to do so.

Only specialist bookstores carry Effective Cycling in stock, but every bookstore knows how to order from the publishers by the ISBN number.

Effective Cycling; by John Forester; 1st edition 1976; 6th edition, The MIT Press, 1993; Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England; ISBN 0-262-56070-4

For some reviews of Effective Cycling: Reviews of Effective Cycling

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Bicycle Transportation: A Handbook for Cycling Transportation Engineers

Bicycle Transportation is intended for two types of reader: the government employee with cycling responsibilities and those persons who wish to influence such people into doing their jobs better. This presents the scientific knowledge about cycling, cycling transportation, cycling accidents, and traffic engineering with respect to cyclists, and describes and analyzes the governmental policies, programs, and supposed research concerning bicycle transportation. The problem is that the governmental policies and programs run counter to the scientific knowledge. They are supposedly based on the cyclist-inferiority superstition that the greatest danger to cyclists is same-direction motor traffic, the lawful cyclist being hit from behind by a supposedly lawful motorist, for no discernible reason. That type of accident is only 0.3% of accidents to cyclists. It is also true that policies and programs that are based on the cyclist-inferiority superstition are precisely those that clear the roads for the convenience of motorists. However, because the convenience of motorists is a politically unacceptable excuse for discriminating against cyclists, the motoring part of American society has gained political acceptability by creating the fear of same-direction motor traffic, which persuades the public that bicycle safety means separating bicyclists from same-direction motor traffic. The problem with this solution is that doing so increases the dangers of all the other types of car-bike collision and often puts cyclists on facilities that enormously increase all the other hazards to cyclists, as well as discouraging the cyclist training that is the best known method for reducing accidents to cyclists. Bicycle Transportation describes the scientific knowledge, criticizes the errors in the government's bicycling research projects, analyzes how the governmental policies and programs conflict with scientific knowledge, and shows how to apply the scientific knowledge to produce a useful system of bicycle transportation, following the vehicular-cycling principle that "Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles."

Bicycle Transportation: A Handbook for Cycling Transportation Engineers; John Forester; 1st edition 1977; 2nd MIT edition, The MIT Press, 1994; Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England; ISBN 0-262-56079-8

For some reviews of Bicycle Transportation: Reviews of Bicycle Transportation


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Effective Cycling Instructor's Manual

This is the original version of the instructor's manual that, I think, covers more about teaching cycling than does any other. The courses whose teaching it describes are the full adult course and the full intermediate and elementary childrens' courses. The two children's courses are outlined and their results reported on this web site at: Elementary-Level Cyclist Training Program: Objectives, Techniques & Results and at: Intermediate-Level Cyclist Proficiency Training: Objectives, Techniques, and Results While this manual is not an instructor's workbook for the new multi-step courses (Road 1, Road 2, etc.), I think that it discusses understanding the dificulties of cycling instruction in modern America, the teaching techniques for different levels of students, and the preparation that is required, to a greater depth than do other texts.

Effective Cycling Instructor's Manual, 136 pages, 3-hole punched for your binder, $15.00

Custom Cycle Fitments, 7585 Church St., Lemon Grove, CA 91945-2306, 619-644-5481

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Effective Cycling at the Intermediate Level

This is the first traffic-cycling course that teaches upper elementary and middle school students how to ride safely and properly in traffic, and how they fit into the traffic system. At the close of this 15-period course the students average better than 90% on the Forester Cycling Proficiency Scale when riding on roads carrying up to 20,000 vehicles a day, in cities where the commuting adult average is a failing 58%.

By concentrating only on traffic cycling this text and course enable young cyclists with no previous traffic training to ride much more safely than their average elders, although not as well as good club cyclists. Only sufficient mechanical and posture information is included to enable the students to start with safely operable, comfortably adjusted, bicycles. Pedaling style and gear shifting information is included for later self-improvement by the more advanced students. The heart of the course is the simplification and unification of traffic cycling into 5 basic principles of how traffic operates and how the cyclist operates in each situation. The 5 principles are:

1. Ride on the right side of the roadway, not on the left and never on the sidewalk

2. Yield to crossing traffic at superior streets.

3. Yield to overtaking traffic before changing lanes.

4. Position yourself according to your destination when approaching an intersection.

5. Position yourself according to your speed relative to other traffic between intersections.

With 2 class periods to learn and practice each of these principles, and further practice on streets with gradually increasing traffic, the students learn well.

The text contains 11 study units, each illustrated with diagrams of each traffic situation, and a course schedule, a mechanical inspection checkoff sheet, and enrollment and release forms. Pages are 3-hole punched.

Effective Cycling at the Intermediate Level, 24 pages, 3-hole punched. $4.00 for one copy. Quantity purchase price is negotiable.

Custom Cycle Fitments, 7585 Church St., Lemon Grove, CA 91945-2306, 619-644-5481

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Bicycle Books page last changed: 04-Feb-14