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Bicyclists on the Camino - Please Give a Warning

Vikita

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(May 27 /June (2017 - Hopefully)
#1
There were quite a number of bicyclists on the Camino while I was there in May. When the bicyclist used a bell to warn the walkers, it was very helpful. Some type of audio clue is necessary so that walkers can move over to the side to allow bikers to get through. Often times, it happens very quickly. In the U.S., when bikers want to pass, they say, "On your left." Is there something that can be used on the Camino so that walkers can be warned about single bikers or groups of bikers that are approaching? It would be safer for everyone.
 

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falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#2
I suspect that over 90% of the cyclists do not read the Forum! I laud your sentiment, but things are unlikely to change. Many of us find cyclists a blight even though some are very courteous. Safety, except their own, does not seem to be a priority. If it were, they all would be ringing a bell!!!
 

zrexer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15 & 16 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo (Sept.)
#3
The lack of a warning from most cyclists is puzzling, because if they do run in to you they are likely to go down hard as well. You would think self preservation would be a priority for them as well. A lot of cycling clubs I encountered this year treated many sections of the Camino like off road race tracks and walking pilgrims as just pylons to get around.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata, Seville to Santiago de Compostella via Astorga, then Finisterre... April and May 2016
#6
Surely cyclists also have a right to the path? o_O
Me feeling is that cyclists have a right to the path, as do people walking on it.

HOWEVER, I don't think that cyclists have an automatic right to the path which is over and above that of the people on foot. My own experience is that people walking tend not to complain about cyclists until they either get hit by one or have a very close call. The idea that those on foot should automatically "get out of the way" of cyclists (which is what I have been told on more than one occasion by somebody attempting to hurtle past me very quickly on too narrow a portion of track) seems misplaced.

If all those on the camino treated each other with an equal amount of respect, regardless whether on foot, bike or four-legged transport, I doubt that this theme would come up nearly as often as it does. Maybe I am biased, as I am not a cyclist, but there certainly does appear to be a sense of entitlement exhibited by some of those who do the camino on two wheels, that those on foot are less important that those on a bike (and hence should either make way or be pushed out of the way). By contrast, I've never been shoved out of the way or knocked of balance by either another pilgrim on foot or by one on horseback.

My view is by no means intended to imply that those on bikes should not be on the camino. Rather, that if one chooses to make the camino journey on a bike, then expect that the path ahead will have 8-10 times as many walkers on it than cyclists, and that this will mean that you may not be able to safely travel at the speeds you might otherwise want to. There are several people on the forum who travel by bike - recently one seemingly very courteous cyclist commented that it was simply too difficult to travel on the "official" camino path, for various reasons, and had elected to take the roads instead (which by all accounts are not too heavily trafficked, with the extensive new network of autovias that take the majority of motorised traffic off the smaller roads, which are now pretty good for cyclists).

If you do choose to cycle on the same path as pilgrims on foot, using a bell to announce your presence would seem a courteous thing to do, rather than approaching at speed, unannounced and giving a shove, which unfortunately on some occasions seems the only other solution considered. Or just be prepared to slow down, make conversation, and relax... I for one am happy to step aside, if the track allows space for this, and if I have enough time to do so before a cyclist is upon me. The use of a bell would allow this to happen more easily.

Alternatively, I understand that Spain (and Europe) has a good selection of trails and roads perfect for cycling, and much less encumbered by foot traffic.

As somebody has already pointed out, however, on this forum I am likely preaching to the choir...
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
#7
Me feeling is that cyclists have a right to the path, as do people walking on it.
My response was tongue and cheak to Jerbear who posted earlier today that because he pays the same for a bed in an albergue as others, he is entitled to get up early waking everyone else in the process.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata, Seville to Santiago de Compostella via Astorga, then Finisterre... April and May 2016
#8
My response was tongue and cheak to Jerbear who posted earlier today that because he pays the same for a bed in an albergue as others, he is entitled to get up early waking everyone else in the process.
My apologies if I somehow missed the (oblique) reference to your reply to a post somewhere entirely unrelated to this thread.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata, Seville to Santiago de Compostella via Astorga, then Finisterre... April and May 2016
#9
My response was tongue and cheak to Jerbear who posted earlier today that because he pays the same for a bed in an albergue as others, he is entitled to get up early waking everyone else in the process.
It is also true that I think that many of the "complaints" aired on the forum about other pilgrims have to do with a basic lack of respect, or at least courtesy, towards others sharing the road. Usually the complaints are from people feeling not respected enough (similar to the person who dislikes that others wake noisily at 5:30 in the morning?). I'm not sure what this is about - perhaps its a reflection of the human condition - nobody can be happy with (or control) everything that occurs around them. Nobody can have an understanding of the perspectives of every other person around them. Perhaps that it is more that some people are interested in how they impact upon those in the world around them, and others couldn't care less?

Maybe its just me. Funnily enough, I didn't seem to worry about it at all when I was actually on the camino.... Perhaps that is the camino lesson which I need to (re-)learn!

Perhaps I need to get back there again.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#10
T
There were quite a number of bicyclists on the Camino while I was there in May. When the bicyclist used a bell to warn the walkers, it was very helpful. Some type of audio clue is necessary so that walkers can move over to the side to allow bikers to get through. Often times, it happens very quickly. In the U.S., when bikers want to pass, they say, "On your left." Is there something that can be used on the Camino so that walkers can be warned about single bikers or groups of bikers that are approaching? It would be safer for everyone.
This has been a pet peeve of mine on all three of my Caminos. I kind of wander a little as I walk on the trails and there have been numerous times where I have almost been hit by quick flying rude bicyclists who give no warning whatsoever. They seem to assume that I walk in a very straight line and whizz by unannounced. It is very unsettling to me as just one step slightly right or left would put me in harms way. My estimation is that roughly 65-70% of the bikeagrinos I've encountered have no regard for the walkers and do not even try to reduce their speed when approaching.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#11
The lack of a warning from most cyclists is puzzling, because if they do run in to you they are likely to go down hard as well. You would think self preservation would be a priority for them. A lot of cycling clubs I noticed this year which treat many sections like off road race tracks and walking pilgrims as pylons to get around.
Exactly! Well stated.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#12
Me feeling is that cyclists have a right to the path, as do people walking on it.

HOWEVER, I don't think that cyclists have an automatic right to the path which is over and above that of the people on foot. My own experience is that people walking tend not to complain about cyclists until they either get hit by one or have a very close call. The idea that those on foot should automatically "get out of the way" of cyclists (which is what I have been told on more than one occasion by somebody attempting to hurtle past me very quickly on too narrow a portion of track) seems misplaced.

If all those on the camino treated each other with an equal amount of respect, regardless whether on foot, bike or four-legged transport, I doubt that this theme would come up nearly as often as it does. Maybe I am biased, as I am not a cyclist, but there certainly does appear to be a sense of entitlement exhibited by some of those who do the camino on two wheels, that those on foot are less important that those on a bike (and hence should either make way or be pushed out of the way). By contrast, I've never been shoved out of the way or knocked of balance by either another pilgrim on foot or by one on horseback.

My view is by no means intended to imply that those on bikes should not be on the camino. Rather, that if one chooses to make the camino journey on a bike, then expect that the path ahead will have 8-10 times as many walkers on it than cyclists, and that this will mean that you may not be able to safely travel at the speeds you might otherwise want to. There are several people on the forum who travel by bike - recently one seemingly very courteous cyclist commented that it was simply too difficult to travel on the "official" camino path, for various reasons, and had elected to take the roads instead (which by all accounts are not too heavily trafficked, with the extensive new network of autovias that take the majority of motorised traffic off the smaller roads, which are now pretty good for cyclists).

If you do choose to cycle on the same path as pilgrims on foot, using a bell to announce your presence would seem a courteous thing to do, rather than approaching at speed, unannounced and giving a shove, which unfortunately on some occasions seems the only other solution considered. Or just be prepared to slow down, make conversation, and relax... I for one am happy to step aside, if the track allows space for this, and if I have enough time to do so before a cyclist is upon me. The use of a bell would allow this to happen more easily.

Alternatively, I understand that Spain (and Europe) has a good selection of trails and roads perfect for cycling, and much less encumbered by foot traffic.

As somebody has already pointed out, however, on this forum I am likely preaching to the choir...
I totally agree...Amen, amen and amen!
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#13
Surely cyclists also have a right to the path? o_O
A "right"? Perhaps; or maybe,"allowed". Either way, what bicyclists do not have a "right" to, is the entire path, creating panicked pedestrian walkers who must scramble in a panic to avoid being injured.

It is the pedestrian pilgrim who has the preeminent right of way (bicycles are required to YIELD to pedestrians). It is a courtesy for walkers to move out of the way of a cyclist.

It is the Bully Cyclist who needs a reality realignment. When approaching pedestrian pilgrims, they need to slow down, and then alert walkers to his presence a bit BEFORE he reaches them. Bicyclists and pedestrians have a very large speed discrepancy. It is NOT up to the pedestrian pilgrim to speed up, it is up to the bicycle pilgrim to slow down. If necessary, the bicyclist may have to dismount the bike in order to appropriately share the Camino in areas that are narrow.

Courteous cycling pilgrims already practice these procedures.
 

martyseville

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
a/a
#14
My response was to Jerbear who says he has the right to wake a full albergue in the wee hours of the morning because he pays the same amount as the others.
You had a great response. Unfortunately, there are far too many pilgrims who have no consideration for others.
If I ever walk another Camino I will strongly let these types know their ways are not acceptable. They need to grow some manners fast or be banned.

Will never happen, but problem children like these need to be entered into a computer data base and banned from other A'bergs. That way the message would get out real fast. Wake up time, like it or not, is at i.e. 7 am. No more of this rattling bags, lights on, loud talking, etc.

As I have stated in the past, the Camino is getting worse and worse every years. Just review some of the threads and postings on here.

Their ways are only a reflection of how life in general is these days. RUDE people. Who their life is all about "me."
 

jo webber

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Sept 9th 2017
#15
Possible solution which would be kind yet get the message across to those using a bike on the Camino: When you are in a larger town, buy bicycle bells with the attachment and pass them out as a gift.

"I noticed there is no bell on your bike. Please, as a gift from me, here is a bell so you may travel safely."

Just a few bells, here and there, could make a difference.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago de Compostela
#16
There were quite a number of bicyclists on the Camino while I was there in May. When the bicyclist used a bell to warn the walkers, it was very helpful. Some type of audio clue is necessary so that walkers can move over to the side to allow bikers to get through. Often times, it happens very quickly. In the U.S., when bikers want to pass, they say, "On your left." Is there something that can be used on the Camino so that walkers can be warned about single bikers or groups of bikers that are approaching? It would be safer for everyone.
A dash of common sense and courtesy would be the answer. It's a walking track, and in May we too were frightened many times by bikes speeding past us. It is dangerous to say the least, as walkers often change direction without thinking. Very few actually used and form of warning. They need to think of others, not just their fellow riders and how quickly they can do their distances
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances starting SJPdP Sept/Oct 2015, April/May 2017
#18
Ended up in a bush because of yet another stealth cyclist. But learned a good lesson. It's purely unintentional. As I was falling into the bush the young fellow on the bike tried to catch me and in the process pretty much fell himself. I think they underestimate their speed, over estimate a walkers speed, and the walkers propensity to stay in a straight line especially on rocky paths.
 
M

Mike Trebert

Guest
#19
There have been many threads about bicycles on the Camino. I was once insane enough to suggest that a petition be started and used to try to get something done to control bike riders' behaviour. The pattern is that many will air their grievances (including me) then a few will speak up saying that everyone should have a right to their own Camino, etc., etc. Then if things get heated a moderator will insist that disagreement is hostility and... Sorry if I sound cynical, but I don't like bicycles on the Camino at all, and so far objecting has got nowhere after many threads and very many posts.

There are a lot of cyclist members of the forum. You'll be hearing from them soon.

My advice after my experience is to walk on quieter Caminos where there are fewer bicycles. That's what I'll be doing.

Good luck.
 
Camino(s) past & future
camino Frances ( 2007) Seville to Salamanca 2016 ....Salamanca to Santiago 2017 .
#20
OOOOh this old chestnut again.......I, as a person who does pilgrimages on a bike ( because of a foot problem ) have to agree with 90% of the comments on this thread . Most cyclists ( and more so if in a group ) do seem to have a lack of respect for other people ( including other cyclists ) on the camino . Maybe its a group bravado thing , as i cannot imagine all these cyclists behave like this in normal life .
As i have written on another thread on this subject even slow cyclists , like me , have been annoyed at the speed and lack of warning of their approach .
Please cyclists ..........give other cyclists and walkers a warning of your approach ......a cycle bell can be bought for about 1.50 euros , a great investment and when used it is amazing the positive response you will get from other pilgrims .
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés five times, Madrid two days, Ingles once.
#22
Something I think I've noticed after 5 Camino's, is that there are many more cyclists on weekends and holidays. And from the sound of them as they advance from the rear is that most are speaking (or yelling) Spanish. But this should count as letting walkers know they are coming - FAST! Just get out of their way. Monday will come and that particular traffic will decrease.
My own experience has been that those cyclists who are on their way to Santiago are decent folk on a pilgrimage. Smile at them, say thank you when they warn you of their approach, and chat with them in the albergues.
Buen Camino to ALL
Terry
 

Char

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Cycling 1st Camino starting 01 June 2017 from Burgos
#24
My 5 cents worth, just cycled from Burgos and had a total different experienced, where we as Peregrinos were harassed after giving ample warning, ringing our bells and riding slowly. Twice hikers, purposely spread themselves over the road, after seeing and hearing us and on one occasion they actually tried to put their walking sticks in our wheel spokes.
Even on the roads, where cyclist and hikers share the same route, hikers tend to occupy the whole road, walking side by side, ignoring any other road users.

So I think both groups, hikers and cyclists, need to start respecting each other. Contrary to the belief, cycling with full panniers etc. is just as difficult as walking the camino.

We eventually, stuck to the roads, because of the hikers attitude and ended up doing a longer camino and lossed out on beautifull small towns etc.
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#25
A good read. I would gently say, in comment to that old post, is that the issue isn't ringing a bell, or blowing a horn. It is about providing enough warning, far enough back from a walking pilgrim, to warn of a bicyclist's approach without startling the bejeesus out of them. The manner of said warning is a loud,vocal equivalent of "On your left". I do like the posters recognition that the best way to avoid problems, is for the bicyclist to remove the speed discrepancy gap by slowing down when approaching a walker.
 
Camino(s) past & future
St.Jean-Santiago (2017)
#26
....In the U.S., when bikers want to pass, they say, "On your left." Is there something that can be used on the Camino....

It seemed to me that bikers were shouting "Buen Camino " as a warning, not as a greeting.

I did come across a cyclist that had attached a cow's bell that jingled as he rode.
After I figured out that I wasn't being chased by a raging bull, I kind of liked the gentle warning.

-jgp
 
M

Mike Trebert

Guest
#27
It's that old chicken-and-egg story. Tit for tat. I say legs came first, then the wheel, then roads. Call me old fashioned but I say roads for bikes, paths for legs. I've read all the arguments on many previous threads and on one occasion I've even hit the "ignore" button. I walked the full CF last year - saw more bikes taking roads "out east" and more bikes using walking paths "out west". Road traffic too dangerous for bikes on roads, bikes too dangerous for walkers on paths. Etc.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
2017-Sarria to Santiago and Lires to Finisterre
#28
There were quite a number of bicyclists on the Camino while I was there in May. When the bicyclist used a bell to warn the walkers, it was very helpful. Some type of audio clue is necessary so that walkers can move over to the side to allow bikers to get through. Often times, it happens very quickly. In the U.S., when bikers want to pass, they say, "On your left." Is there something that can be used on the Camino so that walkers can be warned about single bikers or groups of bikers that are approaching? It would be safer for everyone.
I am a cyclist myself who recently finished my walking Camino. I was amazed at the lack of warnings provided by cyclists on the Camino. Most announced Buen Camino as they were passing. which was a bit late. Unfortunately, in the US, there are a lot of "elite' cyclists (at least in their own minds) who have no interest in anything other than their times. They have no regard for stop signs, red lights or other cyclists and unfirtunately, I think most cyclists on the Camino fall into the same category. Apologies to those few of you who offered advance warning to walkers.
 

jerbear

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de madrid, camino francis, camino inverino (2012, 2013,2014)
CdM, Francis, San salvador, primativo june 2015 CDM , francis, inverino 2016
Camino madrid, via de Plata. Santiago.
Coast of the dead malpica to muxia
#29
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
#30
There were quite a number of bicyclists on the Camino while I was there in May. When the bicyclist used a bell to warn the walkers, it was very helpful. Some type of audio clue is necessary so that walkers can move over to the side to allow bikers to get through. Often times, it happens very quickly. In the U.S., when bikers want to pass, they say, "On your left." Is there something that can be used on the Camino so that walkers can be warned about single bikers or groups of bikers that are approaching? It would be safer for everyone.
There certainly needs to be greater thought given by cyclists. It would be unusual in any country for cyclists to travel fast on a footpath and expect any walkers to jump out of the way with no warning. This "profile" is exactly what happened to me on several occasions during May. How ever, many cyclists were also very considerate.

I also fail to understand why some cyclists needed to be on the path (across the meseta) cycling fast, dodging walkers, when there was a perfectly good, empty, road alongside the path.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
#31
T
This has been a pet peeve of mine on all three of my Caminos. I kind of wander a little as I walk on the trails and there have been numerous times where I have almost been hit by quick flying rude bicyclists who give no warning whatsoever. They seem to assume that I walk in a very straight line and whizz by unannounced. It is very unsettling to me as just one step slightly right or left would put me in harms way. My estimation is that roughly 65-70% of the bikeagrinos I've encountered have no regard for the walkers and do not even try to reduce their speed when approaching.
There was a court case in the UK in the early 1900's that will be well known to any lawyer. A person was knocked off their bike by a vehicle passing to close, because the cyclist "wobbled". The Judge ruled that a cyclist was entitled to wobble. It's only a short step for the same to be true for walkers. I say, continue to wobble!
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#32
There were quite a number of bicyclists on the Camino while I was there in May. When the bicyclist used a bell to warn the walkers, it was very helpful. Some type of audio clue is necessary so that walkers can move over to the side to allow bikers to get through. Often times, it happens very quickly. In the U.S., when bikers want to pass, they say, "On your left." Is there something that can be used on the Camino so that walkers can be warned about single bikers or groups of bikers that are approaching? It would be safer for everyone.
How about "Sal de mi camino o te golpearé" . . . a bit wordy perhaps?
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#34
Apparently it's a 80€ fine if you don't have a bell fitted to a bike in Spain (wonder how often THAT gets issued) but no rule about using them and, interestingly, you have to wear a helmet except in towns and when cycling uphill (???)

As to the efficacy of bike bells - I was hitch-hiking in Europe in the late 1960's (yep, that old) when, walking through a subway, I was deafened by 50 or more bikes swooping past all loudly ringing their bells.

One of their number, on seeing the Union flag on my pack, stopped to explain that fietspad means cycleway and not footpath in Dutch.

Never made that mistake again!
 
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jerbear

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de madrid, camino francis, camino inverino (2012, 2013,2014)
CdM, Francis, San salvador, primativo june 2015 CDM , francis, inverino 2016
Camino madrid, via de Plata. Santiago.
Coast of the dead malpica to muxia
#36

jerbear

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de madrid, camino francis, camino inverino (2012, 2013,2014)
CdM, Francis, San salvador, primativo june 2015 CDM , francis, inverino 2016
Camino madrid, via de Plata. Santiago.
Coast of the dead malpica to muxia
#38
Lol
 

Prentiss Riddle

Aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada
Camino(s) past & future
Poco a poco: we're nibbling away at the Francés. (2015, 2016 & 2017)
#39
I've been known to shout "¡timbre por favor!" at the backs of stealth cyclists as they zoom past me...
 

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