Recommended Reading

Books and reports

Cities for People – Jan Gehl

What Jan Gehl doesn’t know about creating liveable cities probably isn’t worth knowing. He has spent all his working life studying the ways that people use public spaces and how the design of urban environments impacts on quality of life. In his latest book he has managed to compress all that knowledge into 250 inspiring pages – no mean feat.

City Cycling – John Pucher and Ralph Buehler (eds)

This excellent book brings some academic rigour to the debate about why more urban journeys need to be made by bike and how cities can get more people cycling. It’s thoroughly researched, probably referenced but by no means dry and concludes with a set of practical recommendations.

The Enlightened Cyclist: Commuter angst, dangerous drivers, and other obstacles on the path to two-wheeled transcendence – Bike Snob NYC

The second book by Eben Weiss, the blogger behind Bike Snob NYC, is a whistle-stop tour of the highs and lows of commuting by bike, and what needs to change to make it a more pleasant experience for all. A light-hearted and easy read, but there’s no shortage of serious messages.

The Energy Glut: The politics of fatness in an overheating world – Ian Roberts and Phil Edwards

During discussions at Street Talks we almost always end up recommending people buy this book. Why? Well it’s packed with facts and pulls no punches in exploring the relationship between cheap oil, car orientated design of towns and cities, increased road danger, obesity and global climate change; and, as if that wasn’t enough, all profits go to RoadPeace.

Fairness in a Car-dependent Society – Duncan Kay

This report for the Sustainable Development Commission combines statistics, reflections on rights and responsibilities and practical recommendations to highlight the unfairness inherent in car orientated transport systems – that vulnerable groups travel the least while being disproportionately affected by the negative impacts of other people’s travel habits.

Green Metropolis: Why living smaller, living closer, and driving less are the keys to sustainability – David Owen

A forensic, but very readable and enjoyable examination of the role that higher density city living can play in enabling more sustainable lifestyles – not least by reducing the need to travel and car dependency.

Pedal Power: How Boris Johnson failed London’s cyclists – Sonia Purnell

This short e-book offers a potted history of how cycling fared during Boris’s first term – high hopes of a cycling Mayor cruelly dashed against the rocks of smoothing traffic flow. Much of it will be depressingly familiar, but it’s a succinct and useful summary. Just Boris, Sonia Purnell’s biography of Boris Johnson is well worth a read too.

Pedaling Revolution: How cyclists are changing American cities – Jeff Mapes

It may not be the land of milk and honey when it comes to riding a bike but there is plenty we can learn from America’s budding cycling renaissance – not least what local government can achieve when it really puts its mind to something. A very readable whistle-stop tour through cycle advocacy, cycling cultures and the US cities doing the most to get bums on saddles; with (of course) a stop in Amsterdam on the way.

Roads Task Force Technical Notes

Background briefings prepared by TfL to inform the Roads Task Force‘s deliberations. Some are better than others, but together they provide a wealth of useful background infomation on traffic issues in London.

Rumble Strip: If you want to get away with murder, buy a car – Woodrow Phoenix

It’s not every day you come across a comic book like this. Burning with a righteous anger this is a beautifully illustrated call to arms for restraining car use and reducing road danger. The fact that it’s written by someone who has no professional interest in the issues makes it all the more powerful – a winning combination of personal experience, research, and observation.

Straphanger – Taras Grescoe

Part polemic, part travelogue this globetrotting tour of some of the world’s best public transport systems offers plenty of insight into why cities need to urgently shift people out of cars and on to buses and trains (and bikes) and how they might do it. Taras doesn’t visit the UK and is no fan of privatisation, but after reading it you’ll never take the tube for granted again.


A new movement for The New City – Bruce McVean (Lecture, 11th February 2013)

Cars have evolved to go faster, but humans haven’t – Frank McKenna (New Scientist, 11 October 2011)

Dissappearing traffic? The story so far – Sally Cairns, Stephen Atkins and Phil Goodwin (Municipal Engineer, March 2002)

Downtown is for people – Jane Jacobs (, 18th September 2011; originally published 1958)

The future of driving: Seeing the back of the car – The Economist (22nd September 2012)

Great places: reorienting progressive politics for the 21st century – David Roberts (Grist, 23rd May 2011)

Making cycling irresistible: lessons from The Netherlands, Denmark and Germany – John Pucher and Ralph Buehler (Transport Reviews, July 2008)

Save our cities: build for bicycles, not cars – Dave Horton (Bike Hub, 12th June 2011)

The car as renter of the city, not landlord – Tom Vanderbilt (How we drive, 14th December 2010)

The case for bicycle infrastructure – Tommi and Mikael Colville-Anderson (Copenhagenize, 16th August 2011)

What to do about cycling in outer London – David Arditti (Guest article, 28th October, 2011)