If only we had a guide to cycling on the road that applied the rules of the road to the particular circumstances of using a bike among motor vehicles.

If only such a guide was compiled from a knowledgeable, experienced and sympathetic perspective on behalf of the cyclist. If only such a guide was based the national cycle training standard (aka Bikeability), was endorsed and recommended by RoSPA, and had the added heft of being issued by the government’s own publisher, The Stationery Office. If only.

In fact, it’s called Cyclecraft and was written by John Franklin, an acknowledged cycling safety expert who was involved with establishing the national cycle training standard. The first editions appeared in the late 1980s and it has been continually updated, with the first TSO edition published in 1997.

Subtitled “The complete guide to safe and enjoyable cycling for adults and children”, the book covers the vast majority of the questions relating to cycling on the road that most everyday bike users would like to have answered. Where the answers are not clear-cut, the discussion of the issues – including getting started, basic skills, sharing the road, everyday manoevres, busier roads and traffic, cycling in town and the intricacies of cycling infrastructure, to name just a few items on the contents page – are certainly useful.

This is not to say that Cyclecraft is universally loved. Most aspects of cycling advocacy seem to come with a side order of controversy, particularly the issue of the status of the bike on the road and its place – perhaps more accurately, its position – as part of the traffic. A quick straw poll of the Cyclox committee revealed that one or two are not huge fans of Cyclecraft’s advocacy of ‘vehicular’ cycling, which is the understanding that a bike on the road is, in common with all the cars, buses and trucks, a vehicle and should therefore behave like one.

This vehicular approach, the argument goes, places too much emphasis on the skill and experience of the person riding the bike; removes too much of the responsibility of the driver of motor vehicles to treat and respect the bike rider as what the Highway Code refers to as a “vulnerable road user”; and does little to encourage the wary or inexperienced would-be rider to see their bike as a safe and enjoyable way of getting around town. These are all good points but if you are thinking about getting back on your bike, or if you are already a regular rider, a copy of Cyclecraft might be a good investment. The chances are that you will be using the road at some point and, whatever your view of your status as a vehicle, it is encouraging to have a book to hand that says you have every right to be there and explains how to go about claiming the space that is yours to use.

While Cyclox continues to campaign for continuous and protected cycle routes to be part of our city’s infrastructure, Cyclecraft offers some useful advice. Give it a go. You’ll be riding primary before you know it.