Bicycle Book Review Page

Here's a bicycle book review page to inspire you about cycling and alternative transport ideas.

First, a book which is rather more than just a bicycle book - more a rallying call for better travel options.


"Do Humans Dream of Electric Cars"

This little book from Sustrans packs a big message. If you want to get a whole lot more savvy about green travel options in the UK, this is a useful place to start. Here's a review of Do Humans Dream of Electric Cars and what it offers for the cyclist and eco-traveller.

The book is crammed with interesting statistics on our carbon habit and how cars and other transport fits into the picture. Statistics, you say, - sounds a bit dry! Well not here. The information is well presented and highly relevant, with lots of inventive little illustrations to liven it up.

The title, "Do Humans Dream of Electric Cars" is a reference to the well-known sci-fi book "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K Dick which I remember enjoying some years ago for its future visioning of a world populated more by androids than animals. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" was the inspiration behind the movie "Blade Runner".

Fantastic futures?

This book has nothing much in common with the sci-fi work, except to say that it is talking about possible futures - ones which we could help bring about rather than fantastical scenarios involving post-apocalyptic android escapes!

Many people in the green movements may well dream of electric cars. However, quite a few people regard them as something of a Trojan horse for nuclear energy. If all cars in the UK were electric, it would require an area of about the size of Wales devoted to wind farms - or about 100 nuclear reactors - to provide the necessary power! And that's without all the other uses we find for electricity at the moment... And electric cars are still limited by charge up times and range, so that they serve best for short, local trips.

So does this book deal with the issue of electric cars? Not really. Along with biofuels and hydrogen fuel and carbon offsetting - all given a brief review - it relegates electric cars to the slightly-useful-but-mainly-diversionary kind of bracket.

One of the purposes of this pocket-sized book is to make the case for all the other ways we can make our daily travel a whole lot more eco-friendly and sustainable while actually enjoying ourselves and keeping fit. In other words, the main issue is to do with people, individuals, communities and businesses lowering their transport footprint by simple, already existing strategies. There are dozens and dozens of good ideas and pointers for lowering your personal and community transport footprints.

Bicycle book review page:

Walking, cycling, bus and train

There is lots of detail on cycling and walking and the pleasures of bus and coach travel. (The book went to press before the news of the Greyhound Bus company coming to Britain with their unique brand of cheap travel for all.)

It's instructive to compare just how far you can go by bike or walking in 20, 30 or 40 minutes - and these amounts of time spent walking or cycling are a very valuable contribution to a healthy exercise routine. The craziness of driving 15 minutes to get to the (indoor) gym is exposed.

There is plenty of exploration of the "outdoor gym" provided by bikes and legs.

Bicycle book review page:

Railing against rail

Even rail travel gets a little scrutiny.

Perhaps this section is a little beset by rose-tinted spectacles as anyone who travels on trains in the UK will appreciate. Rail fares in the UK are high (unless you have an eternity at your disposal to track down the deals) and standards are often not! Peace and quiet to read a book or surf your iPhone is a rare event on many commuter trains and passengers are increasingly tormented by endless computerised announcements. There is a way to go before most of us can "work, rest and play" on the train, as the book suggests! The illustration of commuter "sardines" packed into a train makes the point eloquently, though.

Bicycle book review page:

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Caring and sharing

There are plenty of suggestions and resources how to shake up your local community and how to get your business or company to act more responsibly. Car clubs and lift shares are explored some and there are good links to check out for more information and ideas.

All in all this is a useful little book of ideas and inspiration which can easily bear reading several times to get the full benefit of the message. The line drawings and cartoons complement the text and help keep the book light and accessible.

You can buy Do Humans Dream of Electric Cars direct from Sustrans or you can find it at Amazon.

More books on cycling

If you are interested in racing your bicycle and all the fitness techniques you need, then the Velopress Cyclist's Training Bible by John Friel may be for you. This is a book for the dedicated rather than the casual rider. It gives lots of detail on simple techniques and strategies for better, faster riding.

Re-cycling - Taking up Bicycling Again as an Adult is a book designed to help returning adults regain their confidence as cyclists and develop a new awareness of safety and comfort in the saddle. It's a fun read with real-life stories to amuse and motivate you.


If you would like to add a review to the bicycle book review page, please use the contact form. Thank you.

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