Pedalling in the cultural lane


If riding isn’t possible at the moment, then there’s plenty of related material to keep you entertained. In case you haven’t seen it, Camcycle’s quarterly magazine is full of great content (and you can view past editions here). We’ll keep our lists updated with recommendations from our members; be in touch if you have anything to add!


Things to read:


‘Richard’s Bicycle Book’ by Richard Ballantine

A book originally published in the early ‘70s which our members describe as ‘informative’, ‘inspirational’, ‘amusing’ and ‘life changing’. Some of the advice is probably now dated but still worth a read and there are other, newer titles from Ballantine including ‘Richard’s New Bicycle Book’ (1987), ‘Cyclist’s Britain’ (1989), ‘Bicycle Repair Manual’ (1994), ‘Ultimate Bicycle Book’ (1998), ‘Richard’s 21st Century Bicycle Book’ (2000) and ‘City Cycling’ (2007).


‘Bluffer’s Guide To Cycling’ by Rob Ainsley (who gave a talk at the Cambridge 2019 Festival of Cycling)

One of the best selling book series of Bluffer’s Guides, this is a pocket-sized book which is an entertaining, easy read about cycling that you can dip in to.


‘Bicycle: Love Your Bike: The Complete Guide to Everyday Cycling’ by Helen Pidd

This is a guide for ordinary, non Lycra-wearing people who happen to cycle or want to start.


‘Re: Cyclists’ by Michael Hutchinson

A well referenced dive into the history of cycling, covering its rise, glories and despairs.


‘In the City of Bikes’ by Pete Jordan

The story of this author’s love affair with Amsterdam, the city of bikes, which explores an unknown history of the city’s cycling from the craze of the 1890s, through WWII to the bike-centric culture we see today.


‘Building the Cycling City’ by Melissa and Chris Bruntlett

All over the world, the bicycle is enjoying a revival. City officials are rediscovering it as a solution to acute, 21st century problems and the Dutch are at the vanguard of biking solutions. This book examines the triumphs and challenges of the Dutch while also exploring other urban areas which are implementing ideas for cycling success.


‘The Escape Artist’ by Matt Seaton

Autobiographical story about the early life of the author in the racing clubs and culture of south London.


‘Bike Nation’ by Pete Walker

A comprehensive, clear and compelling book about everyday riders and the ways in which they can transform the urban environment and way of life for the better.


Activity Book by Tern Bicycles

Colouring, cutting, sticking, wordsearch and spot the difference… 


‘Cols and Passes of the British Isles’

A beautifully produced, short and excellent read in which Graham Robb catalogues these obscure and magical sites which provide a new way of looking at British history and a challenge for cyclists and walkers.


Book Club for Urbanists

List of recommended reads on the characteristics of cities and towns as well as their development and planning to develop thinking around how to create space which enables people to live well.


‘Revolution’ by William Manners

A look at the social setting of the cycling boom of the 1860s and 1880s onward, ranging from the attitudes to the ordinary to the effects of and reactions to women taking up cycling.


Things to watch and listen to:


‘Why We Cycle’

In the words of Chris Bruntlett of Modacity: ‘This film is a “must watch” for anyone interested in understanding how cities that are better for cycling are also better for living.’ This was screened as part of the first Cambridge Festival of Cycling.


‘Wadjda’ (2012)

First feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia. Story of a 10-year-old girl who, undaunted by the social restrictions, determines to buy a green bike from the shop so that she can beat her friend Abdullah in a race. Charming and funny.


‘Never Strays Far’ or

Podcast hosted by Ned Boulting and David Millar. The two talk about lots of things, although they never stray far from the core issue: bike racing.


‘Motherload’ (2019)

Award-winning documentary about bicycling as a source of freedom and connection in a gas-powered, digital and divided world, is available to stream now!


‘Wise and Otherwise’ (1947)

Filmed on the streets of Cambridge, this short film contrasts the riding behaviour of two families, the Wrights and the Rongs, to illustrate road safety. See if you can spot some of the following: Emmanuel College, the old Addenbrooke’s Hospital and various businesses which still exist!


‘Bicycle’ (2014) available on Amazon Prime

A sweeping history of the humble bicycle from its Victorian roots to the modern age with a particular focus on the UK. Interviews with bike designers, historians, and Olympians, means that there’s something for everyone.


‘The Flying Scotsman’ (2006) available on Amazon Prime

The true story of Graeme Obree, the eccentric Scottish cyclist who broke the world hour record in the 1990s on Old Faithful, a bicycle of his own design built partly from scrap metal and parts he salvaged from a washing machine. A classic underdog story, this dramatisation of Obree’s autobiography shows how his maverick style clashed with cycling authorities of the day, and how he overcame mental illness to triumph a second time.


‘Les Triplettes des Belleville’ (2003) available on Amazon Prime

This animated French comedy, nominated for an Oscar in 2003, is one of the quirkier choices on this list. It follows the story of Madame Souza and her dog Bruno as they try to track down her pro-cycling grandson who has been kidnapped by the mafia. Along the way, she enlists the help of and the washed up singing Belleville Sisters. What follows can only be described as bracingly original, slightly surreal, and utterly charming.


‘A Sunday in Hell’ (1977)

This classic documentary looks at the infamous Paris-Roubaix race during one of road cycling’s golden ages. In an amateur era when riders didn’t have the luxury of professional support teams and expensive sponsors, legends like Eddy Merckx and Roger De Vlaeminck would race through quagmires and high drama to win the “The Queen” of the Spring Classics. 


‘Bicycle Thieves’ (1948) available on Amazon Prime

Bicycle Thieves is one of those classic films that looks familiar because it has been borrowed from so extensively. It follows labourer Antonio and his young son, Bruno, on a journey through post-war Italy to recover a stolen bicycle which Antonio needs to keep his precarious job. Packed with beautiful, simple storytelling, it is as much a commentary on the crushing indignity of poverty as it is about love for a favourite two-wheeler. 


‘All For One’ (2017) available on Amazon Prime

A candid, behind the scenes documentary about the formation of GreenEdge, Australia’s first ProTour cycling team who were known for their camaraderie and loyal fans. It is one of the more intimate portrayals of the immense pressure and frequent tediousness of being a professional cyclist in the modern era.


‘Beryl Burton – Calendar Summer Sport Special’ (1986)

Beryl Burton is arguably the greatest British sporting hero of the last 100 years that most people have never heard of. In a 30 year career that began in the 1950s, she was Women’s World Champion five times (along with 3 silver medals, and 4 bronzes), was crowned British Best All-Rounder female time trialist for 25 straight years, and, most famously, broke the 12 hour record for both men and women, offering the male cyclists sweets as she overtook them on the course. This short documentary tells her story, complete with the Rocky-esque training montages that were obligatory for the period.


‘Breaking Away’ (1979) available on Amazon Prime 

Nominated for the 1979 Best Picture Oscar and winner of the Best Screenplay, this is a coming of age story about a 19 year old obsessed with Italian cycling but stuck in suburban America. Full of drama, dark humour, and a good dose of Hollywood feelgood vibes.


‘Inspired to Ride’ (2015)

Film documenting the inaugural Trans Am Bike Race, ridden by 45 individual cyclists which is set against a vast landscape. The clock started as they left the Pacific coast of the USA, and only stopped when they crossed the finish line 4,233 miles later on the other side of the country.


‘Streets Ahead’ podcast

A new podcast dedicated to the world of active travel, liveable streets and people-focused urban design. Hosted by: Laura Laker, Adam Tranter, Ned Boulting.


‘The War on Cars’ podcast

“The War on Cars is a new podcast about the epic, hundred years’ war between The Car and The City. We deliver news and commentary on the latest developments in the worldwide fight to undo a century’s worth of damage wrought by the automobile. We produce a new show every other week.”

Quite US-centric, but entertaining and occasionally quite cathartic to know there are others who have similarly strong feelings about SUVs, sharrows, and community meetings.


‘Spokesmen Cycling’ Podcast

Episode 199 features John Parkin talking about Designing for Cycle Traffic for anyone who missed him when he spoke at our Camcycle meeting.


Wanting to up-skill or learn something new?


‘Unravelling the Cycling City’ – Urban Cycling Institute

The Cycling Professor is offering a free online version of a course which our Executive Director has attended and will be telling us about in April.


Digital World Bike Conference 2020

Cycling enthusiasts, experts and brands share their passion at this virtual conference and access to all content including speaker recordings is free until 20 April 2020.


Delivering Zero Carbon Roads in London by 2030 – Climate Safe Streets Webinar

The London Cycling Campaign launched its ‘Climate Safe Streets’ report, a roadmap to decarbonise the capital’s roads in the next 10 years. This report lays out the specific decisions the next Mayor of London must take to achieve this, as well as the opportunity for boroughs to take a big leap towards addressing the Climate Emergencies they have declared (the report was produced before the postponement of the London mayoral election by 12 months. The arguments and policy proposals are, however, unaffected by this). Climate Safe Streets has been sponsored by Lime, Trek and LCC Patrons.

This one hour LTTV webinar, held on Friday 3 April 2020, had presentations from the London Cycling Campaign and report partners detailing the recommendations outlined in the report. Speakers included:

Creating Climate Safe Streets – an introduction to the report and the need to change how we travel – Fran Graham, Campaigns Coordinator, London Cycling Campaign

Londoners deserve better – a vision for 2030 – John Dales, Urban Movement

The eight policy recommendations for borough councils and the Mayor – Simon Munk, London Cycling Campaign & Brian Deegan, Urban Movement