Please share your past experience on touring. I have my own past experience but running only on my city.

I am on bicycle since I was 11 years old. I used it for moving in my city and I still do.

However I an concerned about the safety of this type of traveling, especially related to transit accidents and driving in a highway with a lot of cars in high speed (it looks like it's a very dangerous sport).

As an example I will share my experience driving in my city:

  • On my bicycle I had like one injury accident (arm dislocation) and 4 almost transit accidents running only in my city.
  • In my car I had one injury accident (head concussion), one non-injury accident, and 6 almost transit accident.
  • None in autobus (however I spent more time on bike and in a car than in a autobus)

I was thinking whether it is better to take rural roads. Maybe highways are really boring for touring, and curves and downhill are better than long highways.

Is this more safe than traveling in a car, or other method of traveling?

  • 3
    I think even if we had statistics it very much depends on your individual vehicle, outfit and riding style. A cyclist who has proper lights, wears a helmet and safety vest, obeys road laws and rides cautiously will be much safer than an average or reckless cyclist who dresses like a Ninja.
    – Michael
    Commented Sep 11, 2021 at 5:19
  • 2
    Country and often location within a country is also important. I bet the answer will be different for the average smallish town in the US compared to a big US city and both compared to the Netherlands.
    – Willeke
    Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 9:57

2 Answers 2


Here are my 2ct, based on biking

  • mostly in Germany, Italy, and some other European countries for tours, and

  • almost a whole winter in Manitoba

  • (You seem to live in a more dangerous area than I do. I've had my share of solo falls [mostly on black ice before I bought studded tires] during several 10 000 km, but they never amounted to more than scratches that did not need a visit to a doctor. Nor did I have any car accident with injuries in several 100 000 km of car and light truck driving.)

One conclusion I came to is that you need to take a look at the local traffic habits.

Here in Central Europe, I plan my tours mostly using opentopomap, opencyclemap and nowadays also naviki and find this working well. As a rule of thumb, outside cities I'd say at zoom 13 on opentopomap, if a road is yellow or white, it's good. A thick black path is fine as well (that will be concrete or good gravel), a thin black path needs to be looked at (may be anything between OK gravel, grass or mudholes). Opencyclemap shows me whether a bigger road has a bike path alongside, and also where touristic routes are (makes navigation faster if you know "next 30 km along route X" rather than which villages to pass - I usually have the phone screen off, in particular for multi-day stealth camping tours)

Some Examples:

  • e.g. the Manitobans would leave plenty of space. Always. On my way to work I entered the Transcanada highway inside Winnipeg with a right turn, and left it a few blocks on with a left turn. I.e., I crossed some 4 lanes or so in morning traffic without feeling unsafe - I'd avoid anything like this in a German town of similar size.

  • Outside Winnipeg, the shoulders of the Transcanada (or other) highways were officially for bikes to use, and also that was OK.

  • Biking on the side/shoulder is explicitly forbidden on the German Autobahnen. Here in Germany, I bike on Bundesstraßen (secondary roads) only in very rural/low traffic areas. Or if they have a dedicated, separate bike path.

  • The only biking I did in Canada which was definitively not safe was going on the ice with water on top when the area was thawing in March: an unlucky fall and you'd slide quite far, possibly onto the road and under a car.
    Here in Germany, I nowadays go on black ice, but then I'm now also proud owner and user of studded tires. And I do that only where a fall won't put me under a car.

  • In Italy, I mostly used rural roads with low/no motorized traffic and small (steep) roads in town. Everything else seemed slightly suicidal to me. Italians are used to the concept of road bikers doing their tours on the weekend, but not so much to everyday commuting or camping tour type of biking.

  • I'm now in a rural area in Germany. The soil here is very loamy which has the side effect that field paths are well graveled or even concrete - leading to a quite good network of bike paths off the car roads.
    Car drivers in rural areas are used to bikers doing tours on weekends, but not that much to commuters say in the dark on winter evenings. I'm sufficiently far away from big cities to notice that most care here leave noticeably more space when passing compared to when I'm in a city. I nevertheless invested into a number of neon orange T-shirts :-)
    By now you'll find lots of road signs for bikers here.

  • The Czech republic also has road signs for bikers, and that network uses small rural roads. Very enjoyable IMHO.

  • The same holds for Slowenia, even though they don't put signs for bikes (or maybe they do by now, haven't been there for quite a while): you're fine by using small roads.
    Though I decided I'll never bike the Vršič again: scenery and the road itself very nice, but on the whole way one car, motorcycle, bus after the other passing.

  • Hungary OTOH was a mixed experience. People seem to be used to everyday type of bikers, and in my experience Hungarian truck drivers do leave OK safety space when they pass. Very much in contrast to the Polish trucks that passed us.
    And at some point, we followed a very nice bike path out of town which after some 15 km suddenly ended with a thank-you sign to the EU for financing the bike path till there. That was on a physically not too wide road which however is a main connection between the Danube valley and the Slowenian - Kroatian highway: one heavy truck after the other. It was IIRC close to another 10 km until we found a smaller road to get away from this...

  • In southern Norway, I also found roads OK that are orange on opentopomap level 12, but yellow on level 11.

  • ...


I'm sure there are stats, but whether they're relevant could be arguable. And the metrics are hard to compare if they're not based on the same units - do you go for trip counts, total distance covered, person-miles, hours of travel, etc.

In my experience, the best car routes are not the best bike routes, and where they cross leads to conflict.

Protected cycle lanes, and quiet streets are both excellent route candidates.

Some high speed roads legally exclude cyclists, this is dependent on location, but I am not permitted on "motorways" though I can ride on "state highways" Your rules will vary.

And also, a road with a respectable shoulder is safer than one with no shoulder. Some locations permit cyclists to ride in the traffic lane, some require it, and some have more flexible rules. Whenever vehicles and bikes want to share the same space, there will be conflict because of the disparity in velocity.

Finally... some people are just accident prone. My other half is forever having accidents, from elbows into doors or a chopping knife in the kitchen. People like that seem to have extra run-ins with obstacles in the roadway.

upshot this might be hard to answer in the abstract.

Example: Part of my commute is on "State Highway 1" which is 80 km/h in the section I ride. Compared to the nearby 60 km/h "quiet rural road" running parallel it should be obvious the slower/quieter road would be better?

enter image description here
Source: https://maps.app.goo.gl/MQgLb9ZsRVyM9z8r7

The saving grace here is that the sealed shoulder is about 2 metres wide. This is a better and safer place to ride than the alternative:

enter image description here
Source: https://maps.app.goo.gl/6s7XQ4uKAuQ1ok2s9

Neither has street-lighting, but I'd rather trust a thousand cars to pass by me instead of three cars to actively divert around me for lack of room.

As a cyclist, you know the kind of road areas which feel sketchy, so look to avoid them.

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