Sunday, December 30, 2012

Everyday Bicycling by Elly Blue

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered Elly Blue's first full-length book entitled Everyday Bicycling. I then proceeded to consume its words in less than two days.  I already wrote a review of this book on Amazon, but neglected to relate how useless this book is to my hamster who already knows how to roll around in his ball just fine, thanks, and scoffed at the idea of attaching panniers to his exercise wheel (hah!).  So, I thought this book really needed a proper review on the Bike Jax blog, as I believe this book will be helpful for people living a city like mine, with a relatively young bike scene.

When I first started riding my bike for transportation, I wanted to find as much information on biking as humanly possible. I mostly found bike maintenance advice (Sheldon Brown's site is The Place for this), but most of what I was really looking for was located, well... here, there, and everywhere. I found a ton of great local info from Bike Jax, lots of advocacy inspiration from Mia Birk, Copenhagenize and Taking the Lane, and fashion inspiration from Cycle Chic.  Living in Jacksonville, I didn't have many bicycling role models, but I started following good examples through blogs like Girls & BicyclesLovely Bicycle,  and Knitting Lemonade. In these blogs, I saw positive examples of people who integrated bicycling into their normal lives, refusing to be grouped into a fringe category.

Blue's Everyday Bicycling effectively puts together in one source, all of the information on using a bicycle for transportation, information that took me hours and weeks to find on the internet, and months and years to figure out through experience. Furthermore, Blue suggests point by point, that if one wants to effectively adopt bicycling as a form of transportation, that it's possible to integrate it into your life without having to buy a fancy-schmancy bike, or change what kind of clothes you wear.

Through my years of research on bike-related matters, I've stumbled across more than enough cycling lit that is highly opinionated without offering fact-based data to prove points, and some writers tend to use a tone that talks down to women or novices. Blue does none of that, and the tone of the book is quite welcoming, while maintaining a down to earth approach of explaining things that newbies won't know, like the pros and cons of different styles of cargo bike, or that it's OK to ride a bike with your normal, everyday clothes.  Blue also touches on a few musts, and stresses that following rules of the road in your community and having lights at night are essential survival tools. She touches on helmets for half of a page, offering some facts, mentions that she wears one, and then leaves the reader to do some research on their own, which is a wonderful way for anyone to formulate their own opinion on a topic that is heavily debated, and typically fueled by more emotion than fact.

Everyday Bicycling might not make a good kickstand, and it does not come with a bike, but is a treasure trove of information that will help anyone kick the car habit by integrating the bike into every day life in a practical way. It's a must for adults who haven't been on a bike for a long time, anyone who wants to start commuting, and anyone who wants to start riding bikes with their family.

Everyday Bicycling can be purchased here, and will soon be located in the Main Library downtown on Laura Street.

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