Potholes and Pavements: A Bumpy Ride on Britain’s National Cycle Network (Paperback)

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'Just wonderful – two wheels good, Laura Lake brilliant. Part travel diary, part love poem to Britain's cycle network ... it's difficult not to be inspired by this fabulous book.' Jeremy Vine

'With a passion for both cycling and words, there are few more qualified to paint a picture of the NCN's potential than Laura Laker.'
Chris Boardman

A unique journey around the UK's National Cycle Network and one journalist's quest to investigate the state of our country's cycling.


What if we were less reliant on our cars? What if there were safe cycling paths to take us places instead? What if those paths led to the next town, the next village and the countryside beyond?

This was the dream of a group of Bristolian idealists in the 1970s when they founded Britain's National Cycle Network, which now runs to nearly 13,000 miles across the country. Journalist Laura Laker sets off on an odyssey around the UK to see where the NCN began, and where it is now.

What has gone right – and wrong – with this piece of national infrastructure? Why is it run by a charity whose CEO once admitted 'we've had enough of it being crap, we need to fix it'? Laura lifts the lid on this maddening, patchy, and at times dangerous network, and the similarly precarious politics and financing that make it what it is.

She discovers beauty, friendship and adventure along the way, from the Cairngorms to Cornwall, from the Pennines to the South Wales coast. On her mission to pin down what the NCN is and what it means to those who use it, she also meets up with high-profile travelling companions, including Chris Boardman and Ned Boulting.

In a country where 71% of trips are less than five miles, two thirds of Britons say they want to cycle more and doing so could help our climate, health and wellbeing. Laura is on a mission to see if we can make that dream a reality.

About the Author


Laura Laker is one of the most respected cycling journalists in the UK, with decades of experience and unparalleled connections across politics and campaign organisations. She co-hosts the Streets Ahead podcast with Adam Tranter and Ned Boulting, is the co-founder of Active Travel Media Awards, and has written for the Guardian, Sunday Times, road.cc, Cyclist, Cycling Plus and many others. She contributes to the Guardian's highly popular bike blog. @laura_laker

Praise For…


“Just wonderful – two wheels good, Laura Laker brilliant. This book takes you on a trip to every corner of Britain, and you can feel every bump and groove on cycle lanes across the country. Inspiring ... part travel diary, part love poem to Britain's cycle network.” —Jeremy Vine

“With a passion for both cycling and words, there are few more qualified to paint a picture of the NCN's potential than Laura Laker.” —Chris Boardman

“Laker lays a finger on the nation's cycling pulse, and finds, despite it all, there is a lot of life. A beautiful homage to a wonky network.” —Ned Boulting

“An essential read for all cycling enthusiasts. I loved hearing about Laura's experiences … a wonderful reminder of how cycling both in cities and in the countryside can change our nation's health and happiness for the better ... Laura has a broad vision for the future of cycling in our country as well as practical suggestions of the steps we need to take to get there.” —Councillor Emily Kerr, Green Party

“In a pedal-powered journey of discovery, Laura Laker tells the surprising story of how Britain got its bike paths: the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Along the way she meets the early visionaries and today's activists engaged in what's become an unlikely new front in the culture wars.” —Jack Thurston, author and host of The Bike Show podcast

“An absorbing, and often surprising portrait of Britain's cycleways, a call to arms for active travel – and a compelling history of the greatest national institution you've never heard of.” —Emily Chappell

“Part travelogue, part history and part love story for cycling, Laura's exploration of the National Cycle Network on her pink e-bike is an engaging tour of Britain's erratic relationship with cycling. She beautifully illustrates why sustained funding and governmental leadership is urgently needed to transform these often-ignored routes into the national treasure we deserve.” —Will Norman, London's Walking & Cycling Commissioner

“A charming look at the literal highs and lows of Britain's occasionally ramshackle, occasionally incredible national cycling network.” —Alexei Sayle, comedian and broadcaster

Potholes and Pavements is the story of the UK's fitful, sometimes painful transformation from a car-dependent nation of villages, towns and cities into a connected, bikeable network of communities. Through the people, places and power struggles that produced today's National Cycle Network, Laker reveals the social, health, environmental and economic possibilities that cycling offers a nation, and shows that the road ahead is actually a bike lane.” —Janette Sadik-Khan, former New York transportation commissioner



Product Details
ISBN: 9781399406468
ISBN-10: 1399406469
Publisher: Bloomsbury Sport
Publication Date: July 9th, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English