This book makes no attempt to excuse the bad behavior 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
problems for themselves. 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 skillfully. Cyclecraft
therefore concentrates on how to deal with existing conditions, rather
than lamenting the fact that these 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.
The content of Cyclecraft corresponds closely to what is taught
by instructors and teaching materials in the League of American
Bicyclists’ Smart Cycling program and the Canadian Cycling
Association’s CAN-BIKE program.
In the UK, Cyclecraft is the principal reference for Bikeability, the
National Cycle Training Standard, and required reading by certified
instructors. It is also used as the basis for training programs in an
increasing number of other countries.
Cyclecraft's intended audience
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
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 acclimatization 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 certified cycling
instructor if necessary.
The advice given in Cyclecraft applies to all types of bicycle in
common use today, although the limitations of some may make it more difficult to tackle some of the more advanced maneuvers. Chapter
3 compares the characteristics of the various types of machine.
Other chapters refer to significant differences in riding technique as
applicable to the different types of bike. For most of the book, however, the use of a 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 a wonderful activity. It is the most efficient means of
traveling known to man, a pleasurable pastime that can be enjoyed
by young and old alike, one of the best ways to maximize 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
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 be not only 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 densely built-up
areas. One of the key challenges for someone learning to cycle is to
overcome the prejudices and misconceptions which have become part
of cycling folklore.
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 lifespan. 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 skillfully 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 maximize your safety and riding efficiency, while
minimizing inconvenience to others and wear to your machine.
Advice is given on how to deal with all common road situations,
recognizing 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 bike 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.