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The Book
Introduction - Contents - Reviews - Publication & Purchase Details
North American Edition

This book makes no attempt to excuse the bad behaviour which is
sometimes evident on today’s roads, nor to excuse those road designs
which can be particularly difficult for more vulnerable road users.
Priorities are changing and conditions for cycling should improve,
but in the meantime it is necessary for anyone wishing to cycle to
come to terms with present circumstances. There is also little doubt
that most cyclists could do more to make themselves safer, for they
often make conditions more difficult than they need be. Although
motorists are most often primarily at fault in crashes with adult
cyclists, very often conflicts could be avoided altogether by the cyclist
riding more diligently. Children, too, can achieve similar levels of
safety by cycling skilfully. Cyclecraft therefore concentrates on how
to deal with the existing order, rather than lamenting the fact that
conditions could be better.

Cyclecraft is not concerned with setting examples to others. Although
a skilled rider will often do this as a matter of course, a cyclist is too
vulnerable to follow rigid rules irrespective of the risk. Cyclecraft
shows how to respond to actual conditions, not to a rule book.

Bikeability: The National Cycle Training Standard

The content of Cyclecraft is closely associated with Bikeability,
the National Cycle Training Standard, for which it is the principal
reference and required reading for accredited instructors. The
present edition of Cyclecraft has been thoroughly revised to benefit
from feedback obtained as a result of implementation of the National

For whom Cyclecraft is intended

Cyclecraft is intended to be read by anyone who cannot cycle; by
cyclists of any level of ability who would like to confirm and improve
their skills, and by the parents of children who are to be taught to
cycle. Chapter 2 includes specific advice to guide parents.

The content could also be useful to other road users, and those involved
professionally with road safety, driving instruction and the design
and use of the highway network, in order to understand the principles
of good cycling and the difficulties that cyclists sometimes face.

Most people of reasonable fitness should be capable of acquiring
the skills that are taught. However, a key consideration is that you
should become competent at each stage before progressing further,
taking care not to proceed too quickly, nor beyond your capabilities
at any time. Gradual acclimatisation to cycling in traffic is the best
approach, getting used to more demanding traffic situations one
by one. People who are particularly slow, timid or nervous may
need patience and perseverance to attain the more advanced skills,
but they are encouraged to try, and to seek the help of a National
Standard cycle training instructor if necessary.

The advice given in Cyclecraft applies to all types of cycle in
common use today, although the limitations of some may mitigate
against tackling some of the more advanced manoeuvres. Chapter
3 compares the characteristics of the various types of machine and
other chapters refer to significant differences in riding technique as
necessary. For most of the book, however, the use of a large-wheel
multi-geared hybrid, city or touring bicycle is assumed, as these types
are the most versatile for cycling in traffic.

Introductory Chapter   Extract from book

Cycling for health, enjoyment and you

Cycling is an wonderful activity. It is the most efficient means of
travelling known to man, a pleasurable pastime that can be enjoyed
by young and old alike, one of the best ways to maximise health and
well-being, an elixir of life, and a completely sustainable mode of
transport. Almost everyone is able to cycle, and for a child, learning
to ride a bike is an important landmark in their development as an
independent person.

Many people would like to cycle or to cycle more. However, the
traditional myths that cycling is hard work and slow have been
augmented in recent years by the perception that cycling is also
inevitably unsafe. Many people fear riding in today’s traffic, on roads
too often designed primarily for motor vehicles, and feel that there is
little cyclists can do to protect themselves from the hazards present.
Experienced cyclists know otherwise. They know that by controlling
their machine correctly and using appropriate riding techniques,
cycling can not only be safe but also fun. Learning to ride efficiently
means that cycling is seldom strenuous and is frequently a very
speedy means of getting about, particularly in towns. One of the
key challenges for someone learning to cycle is to overcome the
prejudices and misconceptions which have become part of cycling

In fact, far from cycling being an unsafe activity, research shows that
cycling regularly is the single most effective action you can take to
increase your life span. Cyclists, on average, live longer than noncyclists and experience much less ill-health. They are twelve times less likely to die of heart disease. Whatever the negative effects of sharing the roads with heavy traffic, it is evident that, on balance, cycling leads to longer and healthier lives. Moreover, when you choose to cycle rather than to travel by car, everyone benefits from reductions
in pollution and congestion.

If you learn to cycle skilfully you will enhance your ability to use the
roads in safety. Although you may encounter much bad driving, most
of it can be anticipated and its effects avoided. Surveys suggest that
competent cyclists are much less likely to be involved in a conflict, and vulnerability generally decreases as a rider’s skill and experience

How Cyclecraft can help you to cycle well

Cyclecraft teaches cycling technique in a similar way to teaching
someone to drive a car – how to integrate with traffic, not fear it. The
general aims are to maximise your safety and riding efficiency, while
minimising inconvenience to others and wear to your machine.

Advice is given on how to deal with all common road situations,
recognising how impractical it often is to avoid the more difficult
ones. It follows the supposition, well endorsed by skilled riders, that
the only way to be safe is to learn to control a cycle as a vehicle and
to read and respond to what is going on around you. For this reason
the cyclist is frequently referred to as a vehicle driver, for that is what
you must be. Cyclecraft also outlines the problems experienced by
other road users; by taking these into account, you can react in the
ways most likely to benefit your journey.

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