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Bikers, please give walking pilgrims warning!

nancy frens

New Member
Past OR future Camino
May 2022
We are walking the Frances Camino, and have frequently been startled by bikers coming from behind us with no warning, then they give us an angry look as they swerve by. We are very happy to share the path, but it has been very windy, and difficult to hear you approach us from behind. Also, some of us don’t hear very well any more. Please, a shout, a bell, or any kind of warning giving us time to react and get out of your way would benefit both of us! We have been impressed with the bikers’ endurance, strength and stamina, and want to make sure everyone is safe. Thank you, and Buen Camino!
 
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It's never happened to me, but close.
Each time it happens I have a rage attack in the moment, which fortuately receeds pretty quickly. Under that is just fear, which takes longer to subside.

My close shaves have not been cycling pilgrims but a pelotons of Eddy Merckx wannabes. Local off-road cycle clubs out for a ride on their home turf. Hence the stink-eye.
 

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
It's never happened to me, but close.
Unfortunately it has happened to me. On one occasion a passing cyclist slipped sideways on a muddy path and as he fell his bike's front sprocket and chain were driven through my trouser leg and into my shin. The result was several days of limping and badly cobbled clothing. When the Camino Frances was recreated in the 1980s cyclists mostly rode racing or touring bikes which could not be used offroad. So there was little scope for conflicts between cyclists and walkers. The advent of mountain bikes and huge increases in numbers walking are an unfortunate combination.
 
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tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
We are walking the Frances Camino, and have frequently been startled by bikers coming from behind us with no warning, then they give us an angry look as they swerve by. We are very happy to share the path, but it has been very windy, and difficult to hear you approach us from behind. Also, some of us don’t hear very well any more. Please, a shout, a bell, or any kind of warning giving us time to react and get out of your way would benefit both of us! We have been impressed with the bikers’ endurance, strength and stamina, and want to make sure everyone is safe. Thank you, and Buen Camino!
Many bikers do yell warnings but I often wonder why, having spent a fortune on bike and equipment, they can't afford a bell or horn. On 5 trips to Spain, I have only encountered 4 or 5 cyclists whose tyres I would have gleefully punctured. One guy thought a warning he was there was nudging the back of my legs with his wheel. I refused therefore to move and he had to wait till the path was wide enough. Another thought riding fast through a muddy puddle and spraying all around him was the decent thing to do. And finally, the guys riding at a million miles an hour down the path from Cruz de Ferro knocking me off my feet into the bushes. Why they could not use the road a few feet away baffles me. Having said that, I met many great guys on bikes, two of whom decided to walk a ways with those of us on foot. In general, 99% of them are just pilgrims like everyone else but please, please, buy a flaming bell
 
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Cp
We are walking the Frances Camino, and have frequently been startled by bikers coming from behind us with no warning, then they give us an angry look as they swerve by. We are very happy to share the path, but it has been very windy, and difficult to hear you approach us from behind. Also, some of us don’t hear very well any more. Please, a shout, a bell, or any kind of warning giving us time to react and get out of your way would benefit both of us! We have been impressed with the bikers’ endurance, strength and stamina, and want to make sure everyone is safe. Thank you, and Buen Camino!
What ..you can do this on a bike?......that's ridiculous man 🤪
 
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Many bikers do yell warnings but I often wonder why, having spent a fortune on bike and equipment, they can't afford a bell or horn. On 5 trips to Spain, I have only encountered 4 or 5 cyclists whose tyres I would have gleefully punctured. One guy thought a warning he was there was nudging the back of my legs with his wheel. I refused therefore to move and he had to wait till the path was wide enough. Another thought riding fast through a muddy puddle and spraying all around him was the decent thing to do. And finally, the guys riding at a million miles an hour down the path from Cruz de Ferro knocking me off my feet into the bushes. Why they could not use the road a few feet away baffles me. Having said that, I met many great guys on bikes, two of whom decided to walk a ways with those of us on foot. In general, 99% of them are just pilgrims like everyone else but please, please, buy a flaming bell
I agree with you
Why bikers want to ride on a very narrow path when the quiet road is just beside them baffles me
Last week a young Korean girl had her leg broken when one of these jokers hit her.
The one’s we saw we’re not locals out for a ride, they were “Pilgrims”
 

Jan Runkel

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2018
Still hoping for Fall 2020
We are walking the Frances Camino, and have frequently been startled by bikers coming from behind us with no warning, then they give us an angry look as they swerve by. We are very happy to share the path, but it has been very windy, and difficult to hear you approach us from behind. Also, some of us don’t hear very well any more. Please, a shout, a bell, or any kind of warning giving us time to react and get out of your way would benefit both of us! We have been impressed with the bikers’ endurance, strength and stamina, and want to make sure everyone is safe. Thank you, and Buen Camino!
Thank you! This is one of my biggest pet peeves on the Camino, and it's dangerous. It doesn't take much just to say "Buen Camino" as you approach, just as we walkers do.
 
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Last week a young Korean girl had her leg broken when one of these jokers hit her.
Grrrr. I hope he paid her medical bills.
Why bikers want to ride on a very narrow path when the quiet road is just beside them baffles me
Some people like mountain biking on the worst possible terrain. It's a challenge. But I have no idea if that's the mentality happening here.
 
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Frances 2016 SJPP>Santiago
We are walking the Frances Camino, and have frequently been startled by bikers coming from behind us with no warning, then they give us an angry look as they swerve by. We are very happy to share the path, but it has been very windy, and difficult to hear you approach us from behind. Also, some of us don’t hear very well any more. Please, a shout, a bell, or any kind of warning giving us time to react and get out of your way would benefit both of us! We have been impressed with the bikers’ endurance, strength and stamina, and want to make sure everyone is safe. Thank you, and Buen Camino!
I agree that it's a problem. When I walked the Frances a few years ago, I estimated fewer than 10% of bikers gave warning. (Maybe not that few, but certainly not many!) I bike in the U.S. and always provide warning (bell and voice). Also, I am happy to give way to bikers on trails when hiking when they give warning.

Conversely, walkers/hikers really shouldn't be wearing earbuds and be unable to hear warnings when they are provided. I've experienced this numerous time when biking in the U.S. I've also experienced groups walking side-by-side blocking a trail and talking or not paying attention even when warning is given. I don't now how to deal with this. Maybe put an airhorn on my bike??🤔
 
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We are walking the Frances Camino, and have frequently been startled by bikers coming from behind us with no warning, then they give us an angry look as they swerve by. We are very happy to share the path, but it has been very windy, and difficult to hear you approach us from behind. Also, some of us don’t hear very well any more. Please, a shout, a bell, or any kind of warning giving us time to react and get out of your way would benefit both of us! We have been impressed with the bikers’ endurance, strength and stamina, and want to make sure everyone is safe. Thank you, and Buen Camino!
Yes totally agree some bikes cost 2000 euros or more think they should come with bell bit of respect is all that's needed speaking from experience got forced into canal be Medi one year from Germany bikers ever since dislike bikers vthere not true pilgrims sorry to say
 
F

Former member 99290

Guest
Speaking from experience, it's scary - and dangerous - to be bowled over by bike - or have to jump out of the way/ But, as with most things in life, it's usually a small minority who give a group a bad name.
 
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davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Past OR future Camino
2019
Bicycles on Camino

1. Assume the pedestrian pilgrims cannot hear you approaching. Bad hearing, conversation, self-absorption, focusing on the scenery, traffic noise nearby.... there are a lot of reasons that do not include headphones and music. Given the nature of a Pilgrimage, it should be of no surprise that there is a lot of internal focus for the pedestrian pilgrim.

2. Give a loud enough warning, when you are far enough away, so as not to not startle pedestrian pilgrims. A startled pilgrim is an unpredictable pilgrim and could bolt right into the bicyclists’ path, causing injury to both. Additionally, it is quite unpleasant to be suddenly frightened.

3. As you approach a pedestrian pilgrim(s), slow down. This helps minimize the large difference in weight and momentum and makes everyone safer.

4. In general, except for those who somehow feel entitled differently, most rules of a shared pathway are based on what is written above and are simply normal commonsense to keep all pedestrians and bicyclists safe: Bicycles and Pedestrians yield to horses. Bicyclists yield to Pedestrians.

5. While it may seem advisable for a pedestrian walking along a pathway to be aware of bicyclists, and it is something one should try to do, pedestrian pilgrims are not responsible for your behavior on a bicycle. They cannot make a warning for the bicyclist, nor use the brakes, nor steer the wheel.

6. Pedestrian and Bicycle Pilgrims are on Camino for a shared goal. Each is there to gain some sort of fulfillment and experience the Camino spiritually or physically, or culturally, or religiously or all of the above. Loving, caring, and respecting one another requires accommodation of differences and nurturing an attitude of giving. Pedestrians can assist the bicyclist by standing aside when you know they are approaching, offering to help with mechanical breakdowns (if knowledgeable), and grabbing a piece of the bike -- with permission -- to help the bicycle peregrino make it up a steep slope or extra muddy path.

Bicycle Peregrinos can be of similar attitude by simply observing the points above.

God Bless Us All; And Let Us Love One Another.
 

GPeachy

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
April / May (2016) CF
I walked the Camino Frances. Yes, there were some cyclists who seemed to come from nowhere. However, most were just trying to get to their destination, just as I was.. Some are not pilgrims, just people out for a ride. As someone who is an avid "quality of life" weekend cyclist, I know from experience that sometimes I can start ringing my bell 25 meters back and start politely saying "on your left" or "permesso" 10 meters back, but for whatever reason, people are slow to respond, or they don't move over until you are practically on top of them. Either they are caught up in their own thoughts or conversation, the wind or other background sounds are interfering with the sound, or they have headsets on. I am not suggesting that bad behavior is encouraged or tolerated, but I do think it is important for everyone to pay attention to their surroundings and make space for each other. Yes, cycling pilgrims should slow down, use bells, and yield to pedestrians. And yes, walking pilgrims should be alert and move to the right when they hear a cyclist.
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Past OR future Camino
2019
I walked the Camino Frances. Yes, there were some cyclists who seemed to come from nowhere. However, most were just trying to get to their destination, just as I was.. Some are not pilgrims, just people out for a ride. As someone who is an avid "quality of life" weekend cyclist, I know from experience that sometimes I can start ringing my bell 25 meters back and start politely saying "on your left" or "permesso" 10 meters back, but for whatever reason, people are slow to respond, or they don't move over until you are practically on top of them. Either they are caught up in their own thoughts or conversation, the wind or other background sounds are interfering with the sound, or they have headsets on. I am not suggesting that bad behavior is encouraged or tolerated, but I do think it is important for everyone to pay attention to their surroundings and make space for each other. Yes, cycling pilgrims should slow down, use bells, and yield to pedestrians. And yes, walking pilgrims should be alert and move to the right when they hear a cyclist.

You forgot to mention the prevalence of hearing loss in the large group of senior aged pilgrims that walk a Camino. Don't ask me how I know this is true :).

I agree with most of what you stated. And if I happen to be aware, I gladly make room and offer a Buen Camino to the passing bike pilgrim.

That said, my staying alert for bicyclists is not in the job description for pedestrian pilgrims. Pedestrian pathways have been coopted for bicycle use and I accept that. But I am there to focus on my Pilgrimage. I will not keep my head on a swivel, unless I am moving from side to side on the pathway. I will not stay alert for bikes which means I have to keep my inner thoughts and meditations at bay. I will most certainly not concede a default right of way to a bicycle beyond keeping to the right on the path. My travel is not subservient to the bicyclist because they don't want to have their momentum slowed. Moving off the pathway into ditches or rough shoulders doesn't work for me, as I'm sure it doesn't for the bicyclist, either.

I expect to be focused when dealing with road walking or crossing roadways. I will not do the same on a pedestrian pathway or trail where I should be allowed to enjoy a walk.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
I like mountain bicycles. I own a mountain bicycle. They can be quite fun to ride. That being said IMO they have no place sharing the path with walkers, on the Camino or any other narrow, busy (quite busy) walking path. There simply isn't enough room for them to safely share the path. It's a matter of mathematics, physics, science or whatever. Besides the actual space limitations there's also the ability to react by the average pilgrim to a bicycle headed towards them, while they (the pilgrims) have their back turned. Bicycle doing say 10-15 MPH headed to a pilgrim doing 3 MPH with back to the bicycle. Upon the warning (if given) the pilgrim will turn to the rear to see what's coming while at the same time moving to the left or right, perhaps in the direction of the oncoming bicycle. The outcome can be quite bad (for instance the poor Korean peregrina sustaining a broken leg from a collision). There's no solution to not having enough space on the path. I know the bicyclists will rage, snarl and shake their fists to the heavens saying pilgrims need to yield to us dammit, and be more aware of our presence. Keep their heads on a bloody swivel! Constantly look to the rear, ready to egress from the trail when necessary. Take cover! We can share the trail they will say, you damn walkers just need to walk like your on a combat patrol. Space apart lads (and ladies)!. Five meters! Rear point man, watch for the bicycles! Give a shout when sighted! Everyone jump off the path!
The walking pilgrims are never going away. They're a predictable enormous mass of humans every March-October, all ages and all walking speeds and some walking with limitations. All meandering across the Way on its paths. I hope by now anyone planning on bicycling the Camino knows that by now.
 

Farmer Col

Aussie Col
Past OR future Camino
2021
I too have had several close calls from cyclists, but it was partly my fault. When they did give a warning, I would instinctively move to the left, as I have been doing all of my life in Australia. Sometimes the cyclists thought I was deliberately blocking them, but they always accepted my apology. Sometimes there would be no warning, presumably because they thought they could squeeze by without alarming me. I guess what I am trying to say is be tolerant, cyclists slow down a bit and give plenty of warning, walkers, give a wave and a greeting to cyclists that have given a warning that they are coming by. I am a cyclist myself, not on Camino, and sometimes I feel I am being arrogant telling walkers I am behind them, but that is better than hitting someone and perhaps injuring both of us.
 
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Pathfinder075

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I've met many cyclists and i have no issue with them per se. But i don't think cyclists should be on camino paths. Cycling is for roads. You want to see the paths, walk.
 

wisepilgrim

Guidebook Author
Past OR future Camino
Many
There is a lot to say on the matter, most of which has already been said. I will add two points:
1. Most cyclists have bells, but have stopped using them because they are ineffective in most Camino situations. Headphones, distractions, wind, etc. to say nothing of the fact that a group of 2 or more pilgrims will very seldom move to the same side. This is as true for bikes as it is for cars, and it boggles my mind but brings me to number 2.
2. Pilgrims are only borrowing the path they are walking on. It is not theirs, nor is it exclusive to them. It’s a road and regular road rules apply. I’ve watched pilgrims walk 4 abreast down the same stretch of N road for years now, invincible for the moment.

Both pilgrims and cyclists need to get over the idea of superiority and just learn to share. Cars too.

But bells? Bells are worthless.
 

Lurch

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
looking at 2018-2019
There is a lot to say on the matter, most of which has already been said. I will add two points:
1. Most cyclists have bells, but have stopped using them because they are in effective in most Camino situations. Headphones, distractions, wind, etc. to say nothing of the fact that a group of 2 or more pilgrims will very seldom move to the same side. This is as true for bikes as it is for cars, and it boggles my mind but brings me to number 2.
2. Pilgrims are only borrowing the path they are walking on. It is not theirs, nor is it exclusive to them. It’s a road and regular road rules apply. I’ve watched pilgrims walk 4 abreast down the same stretch of N road for years now, invincible for the moment.

Both pilgrims and cyclists need to get over the idea of superiority and just learn to share. Cars too.

But bells? Bells are worthless.
What you say is true…however, way to many cyclists perceive the Camino, especially the hilly parts, as their personal racetrack. Last year, past Sarria, a cyclist missed me by a gnat’s behind and knocked another perigreno to the ground. I yelled an invite to talk with me and was really hoping to give him a “ come to Jesus moment” but he declined and sped on. The other pilgrim was OK, more scared than hurt, but a serious injury was only inches away.

This is not only in Spain, I have encountered it in hiking thru the American Southwest, and not all cyclists are as reckless, but it is, to me, the most dangerous part of the Camino.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
These threads tend to go south fairly quickly. I am not going to close this one now/yet, because I think that a healthy dose of awareness and alertness is a good thing for those walking. Walkers may not like it, but this is a shared path, cyclists and walkers are both allowed. Walking without earbuds and always walking, where possible, to leave openings for cyclists to pass are very good ideas. Rudeness and dangerous behavior occur on both sides of this equation, though I think it’s pretty clear that the primary duty to warn and take “evasive action” falls on the cyclist who is, after all, coming from behind.
 
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There are a few nuances that need to be considered by all of us, in foot or on wheels.
It's about the particular context.
Wisepilgrim says, correctly:
Pilgrims are only borrowing the path they are walking on. It is not theirs, nor is it exclusive to them.
True, and.
If it's a road, this definitely applies:
It’s a road and regular road rules apply. I’ve watched pilgrims walk 4 abreast down the same stretch of N road for years now, invincible for the moment.
It is our resposibility when walking on a road not to leave our brains at home, and use common-sense heedfulness - about both cares and bikes. On a road things with wheels have the right-of-way, not we with feet.

If it's a narrow path, originally meant for pedestrian use and not a hoarde of mountain bikes, it's another matter. If a cyclist is coming from behind and does not warn or slow down, then it seems common sense that the fault is theirs if an accident happens.
As you say, Laurie:
I think it’s pretty clear that the primary duty to warn and take “evasive action” falls on the cyclist who is, after all, coming from behind.
I don't know the actual statutes in Spain and don't have the time to find them right now. Perhaps someone can, to educate us all?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I don't know the actual statutes in Spain and don't have the time to find them right now. Perhaps someone can, to educate us all?
I wasn’t referring to legal duty, just common sense courtesy duty. I think that knowing the legal or statutory standards would be relevant if there were litigation arising out of a cyclist-pedestrian collision, but I don’t think that it would affect the amount of caution I exercise while walking. In my home town, I know that pedestrians in a marked crosswalk have the legal right of way, but I would be taking my life in my hands to walk across many of those crosswalks given the motorists’ total disregard.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
There is a lot to say on the matter, most of which has already been said. I will add two points:
1. Most cyclists have bells, but have stopped using them because they are ineffective in most Camino situations. Headphones, distractions, wind, etc. to say nothing of the fact that a group of 2 or more pilgrims will very seldom move to the same side. This is as true for bikes as it is for cars, and it boggles my mind but brings me to number 2.
2. Pilgrims are only borrowing the path they are walking on. It is not theirs, nor is it exclusive to them. It’s a road and regular road rules apply. I’ve watched pilgrims walk 4 abreast down the same stretch of N road for years now, invincible for the moment.

Both pilgrims and cyclists need to get over the idea of superiority and just learn to share. Cars too.

But bells? Bells are worthless.
Well actually, the path was originally for foot pilgrims and is originally and traditionally a foot path. "Exclusive"? Yeah, sure at one time yes. Bicycles were invented long after the Camino was. So I would say that bicyclists are the guests on the pilgrim's foot path which has become so crowded these days with foot pilgrims there's simply not enough room on it to safely share with bicycles. There's no learning to share when there's not enough room. It's literally impossible and I guess that's a difficult fact for some bicycle pilgrims to accept or perhaps grasp. The pilgrims will always walk across the entire path and they will always walk totally engrossed in conversation or as you mentioned wearing headphones. They're not going to all move to one side safely in some kind of rehearsed, choreographed safety drill to avoid being struck by a bicycle. All the lecturing in the world won't change any of those things.
I don't think there's any notion of "superiority" going on with foot pilgrims. It's the other "S" word, "safety". I have yet to hear of an incident where a bicyclist was struck by a speeding foot pilgrim, only the other way around.
 
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David Hobson

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Portuguese, Norte
We are walking the Frances Camino, and have frequently been startled by bikers coming from behind us with no warning, then they give us an angry look as they swerve by. We are very happy to share the path, but it has been very windy, and difficult to hear you approach us from behind. Also, some of us don’t hear very well any more. Please, a shout, a bell, or any kind of warning giving us time to react and get out of your way would benefit both of us! We have been impressed with the bikers’ endurance, strength and stamina, and want to make sure everyone is safe. Thank you, and Buen Camino!
I have just arrived in Santiago and in the whole cyclists are just as courteous as some groups of occasional walkers. But as an experienced cyclist I can say that over 90% of cyclists are on powered machines.
 

wisepilgrim

Guidebook Author
Past OR future Camino
Many
Well actually, the path was originally for foot pilgrims and is originally and traditionally a foot path.
I have to think that zero of the paths that we currently walk (or possibly ever were walked by pilgrims) were purpose built for them. Every meter of the camino, right up to the steps of the cathedral, is shared space.

I want to make it clear that I believe cyclists, for the most part, do an excellent job with or without bells. They are just as much at risk of injury in a collision as us on foot. I only meant to draw attention to the fact that there are reckless parties on both sides, and that it is those on foot that are more likely to get hurt. This is borne out by statistics, and by my own empirical observations as a close neighbor to the camino. They go where they please, because like you said they all believe the trail is theirs. It is not, and it never was, and any thinking to the contrary is dangerous. Follow the arrows, avoid shortcuts along roads, and if you’ve been walking on a busy road for more than a few hundred meters there is a good chance you have lost the way.


In my home town, I know that pedestrians in a marked crosswalk have the legal right of way, but I would be taking my life in my hands to walk across many of those crosswalks given the motorists’ total disregard.
This! The cemetery is full of people who were right.
 

Marcus-UK

Old Git
Past OR future Camino
Camino Ingles 2016 Camino Portuguese 2017
I like mountain bicycles. I own a mountain bicycle. They can be quite fun to ride. That being said IMO they have no place sharing the path with walkers, on the Camino or any other narrow, busy (quite busy) walking path.
I partially agree with you. On congested Camino routes for example the Frances from Saria. However other routes like the VdlP have less congestion and in some areas an off road cycle path parallel to the main route.
Anyone on a vehicle, or on horseback should give due care and attention to pedestrians. If the way is too crowded, then in most cases the parallel road route should be utlilised until congestion lessens.
 

davebugg

A Pilgrimage is time I spend praying with my feet
Past OR future Camino
2019
As a pedestrian Pilgrim, the number of times I have been hit by a bicycle while walking to the right side on a path or trail or wide, dirt farm road: Two

The number of times I've become ill from COVID as a Pilgrim: 0
 
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RJM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
I have to think that zero of the paths that we currently walk (or possibly ever were walked by pilgrims) were purpose built for them. Every meter of the camino, right up to the steps of the cathedral, is shared space.

I want to make it clear that I believe cyclists, for the most part, do an excellent job with or without bells. They are just as much at risk of injury in a collision as us on foot. I only meant to draw attention to the fact that there are reckless parties on both sides, and that it is those on foot that are more likely to get hurt. This is borne out by statistics, and by my own empirical observations as a close neighbor to the camino. They go where they please, because like you said they all believe the trail is theirs. It is not, and it never was, and any thinking to the contrary is dangerous. Follow the arrows, avoid shortcuts along roads, and if you’ve been walking on a busy road for more than a few hundred meters there is a good chance you have lost the way.



This! The cemetery is full of people who were right.
Yes, I also agree pilgrims do reckless things. Walk over the Pyrenees despite warned no to. Wear headphones despite the hazard of not hearing a car or bicycle approaching. Crossing highways at dangerous points without due caution. Not wearing reflective clothing or markers when walking in the dark. Texting or otherwise staring at a device while walking and taking a fall etc etc.
They do all that, but that's not the issue, nor is the issue of bicyclists sharing the roadway with automobiles. The issue is, and I suppose this is more concerned with the Frances because after all it is the one with the most pilgrims, the most popular and always will be, is that there's simply too many pilgrims on the path for it to be shared with bicycles approaching from the rear. That's it. Simple volume. Twelve ounces of water cannot fit in an eight ounce cup. You can yell at the cup, shake your fist at it, curse it and call it stupid, but the water still won't fit.
I cannot see how somebody struck by a bicyclist from behind did anything reckless? I'm walking along, suddenly I hear something approach at speed right behind me, my natural human self preservation instinctive reaction is to turn around and look and at that moment I have 200+ pounds of human, aluminum, rubber and such colliding with me at 15 MPH or so. Obviously I'm on the most losing end of said collision. What did I do wrong?
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
In that case they are not bicigrinos (cycling pilgrims) but normal cyclists being inconsiderate.

They are local cyclists who work during the week and are out on a cycling trip on Saturday morning or Sunday morning, either on their own or with their mates from their cycling club.

There is an apparent misconception about the roads and paths that today's Camino pilgrims take: they are public roads and paths and subject to the Spanish Road Traffic Code. They are open to everyone, whether they label themselves or label others as pilgrim (true or otherwise) on foot, pilgrim on a bike, pilgrim on a horse, pilgrim in a wheelchair or not a pilgrim at all and why should I be one.

And unless there is a traffic sign at the beginning of each foot path - the one with the blue background and with a white shape of one or two walkers on it - that says Pedestrians only, bike riders are not barred from such paths.

The roads to Pamplona, Burgos, Leon and Santiago existed long before any Santiago pilgrim appeared on the scene. Many long distance roads through Europe and leading to Santiago were leftovers from a long gone government that had built them for their trade (on wheels) and their military, and they lasted so long that even medieval pilgrims, medieval diplomats and medieval businessmen could still use them many centuries later.

Much of what we walk on today has never felt the footsteps of a pilgrim of old.
 
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Past OR future Camino
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
I have been following this thread closely, perhaps for obvious reasons. To be honest, I have not done so with many of the similar threads which have come up over the last few years because they have usually degenerated into rants. This one hasn’t, (although the comment that I am not a real pilgrim did get my hackles up).

As a multi bicigrino I am very aware of the problems walkers face. I have posted in the past that on my previous Francés journeys I sometimes abandoned the tracks altogether because I found the situation just as difficult for me.

That said, I am concerned that there will be first time bicigrinos who are reading this thread wondering what they are letting themselves in for.

And as it happens, on my forthcoming Camino F I am planning to follow the walking route.

It seems to me that there are two ways to mitigate the problem, apart from the fair-warning bell or call strategies which don’t always work.

If you are on a bike you have a mind-set dictated by your knowledge of your physical capability, just like a walker. I know what distance is a reasonable daily goal for me in given terrain. I need to modify this, otherwise the frustration that the walkers are “slowing me down” becomes an issue. I will factor it in and reduce my daily target accordingly - instead of, say 60km, plan for forty on busy restrictive track-sections. The goal is to arrive Santiago, not how fast you can get there.

The worst thing is to plan on an early start especially from towns where there are many accommodation choices. I once did a count of early morning pilgrims on a road section where there were no tracks. I counted 300 in under 40 minutes. Spanish days are long. If much of your riding can be done in the afternoon the tracks are often quite empty.

My comments refer to the Camino Frances. If you want a relaxed experience where you will interact with walkers in a very sociable manner, get on the Via de la Plata.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances; Aragones; VdlP; Madrid-Invierno; Levante
I have met (been passed by) many bicyclists on camino and have never been threatened by them, except by one adolescent idiot on the Madrid route. He came flying down a steep hill with deep gullies with his bicycle totally out of his control (he did manage to stay on it and keep it upright). Fortunately, I had time to get out of his way, as he did not have time to warn me of his arrival. This was apparently, a popular run for thrill-seeking cyclists, but not at all a busy pilgrim route, at that point.
My only interaction with a cyclist was on a busy pilgrim/bicycle route. A large flight of bicycles (is this the proper plural?) had stopped by the bottom of a steep run in a location where all could get off the trail. It was raining, with a strong wind. I was so tangled in my flapping poncho that I could hardly move. I looked hopefully at a young woman cyclist who was standing around. She took the hint and helped to untangle me. So my attitude towards cyclists is relatively neutral, perhaps because I avoid busy pilgrim routes. The cyclists are a hazard to pilgrims, but I am fortunate to never have been hit by one and I admit their right to be there, just perhaps that dangerous collisions are hard to avoid with too many walkers and cyclists on the same trails.
 

Skinnybiker

The Skinny Biker in Spain
Past OR future Camino
Norte, Frances, Primitivo May 2022
By bike
The answer is simple or not "Any vessel overtaking any other vessel must keep out the way of the vessel being overtaken" the rule of the road at sea. When I have time and a keyboard...... Just about to complete the Frances en bici, having accrued some observations.

WRING THAT BELL - so this is what I came up with between Portomarin & Melide on Sunday. It's an impossible conundrum, like oil & water, bikers & peregrinos don't mix well, there are too many variables as has been commented in this thread. For example a peregrino will want to walk at a fairly constant velocity whereas a bikers speed is variable (from about 5kph to 50kph), is the trail level. uphill or downhill, trail conditions (smooth, sand, gravel, rock.....), single, double, small group, large group of peregrinos and there are plenty more variables to consider. So every time a cyclist approaches peregrinos the situation is different and has to be assessed; when do I start tinging the bell or don't I, do I go left / right / straight, is there space to safely pass, if I ting the bell which way will the peregrino move - that's the reality. So I slow down, smile at the peregrino hop or shuffle, give a "buen camino" and ride on. A couple of people thanked me for tinging the bell which was nice. As a biker there is one request, keep moving at a constant velocity (that means speed & direction), don't hop or skip or jump - we are not aiming for you but aiming to avoid you. However as a pedestrian I guess the fight / flight reaction takes over. Eventually I realised it was better to avoid the rush-hours and to ride uphill on the road. A few other thoughts:
  • those (mostly local) bikers using the trail for MTB riding will not be reading this forum
  • the bicigrinos will generally behave & act with consideration
  • bells are not cool - haha
  • the main difficulty for bikers and perhaps the reason for so many "close shaves" are those peregrinos who jump, hop or shuffle in a random way - it's unpredictable
  • ebikes are becoming / may become more of a problem as they can power their way up hill easily, personally I think any powered machine should not be allowed on "trails".
  • many of the "near misses" & "bikers totally out of control" are a perception issue
  • there are more bikers on the road than on the trail / camino - fortunately
It was a great ride and pleased I did it but you won't have to worry about this bicigrino on the CF as I shall not ride it again; there are just too many people walking. Next time I shall take less popular caminos, go the "wrong" way and explore other routes.

Until the next time, buen camino a todos.
 
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John A Richard

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances (2017), Portuguese (2019)
When I began walking the CF the bicycle issue in the first week was beginning to get to me. My anger, at the lack of warning when cyclists would pass and narrowly miss my wife and I, was affecting my mood. My wife was concerned and encouraged me to think of something "positive" to say when the cyclists passed instead of cursing. For the rest of the journey to Santiago at the appropriate moment I would say aloud that I hoped that Santa would bring the cyclist a bicycle bell for Christmas!
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
I agree with you
Why bikers want to ride on a very narrow path when the quiet road is just beside them baffles me
Last week a young Korean girl had her leg broken when one of these jokers hit her.
The one’s we saw we’re not locals out for a ride, they were “Pilgrims”
The reason that mountainbikers don't want to ride the quiet road is the same as the reason we pelgrims have for choosing the path, the purpose of Mountainbiking is riding "offroad". Of course I agree with all comments that bikers should warn timely when they nearing walkers. I had some narrow escapes when a biker flashed by
 

Xali1970

Planning the next one
Past OR future Camino
2016 Primitivo
2018 Pimitivo, VdlP
2022 Too Many
I always wonder about these "use your bell" posts.

A Bicigrino on a heavily loaded bike has no interest in going at high speeds anywhere except on hardened roads if he wants to survive the day without injury, and negotiating a busy trail requires him to enlist the cooperation of all around him to get by and stay upright on the bike. A bell and a warning are a necessity. I did encounter some who couldn't or wouldn't hear either, or were blissfully unaware of their surroundings - which is dangerous in any environment.
Locals on the trail using mountain bikes won't be on this forum to read these admonitions, and more than likely see peregrinos as a seasonal nuisance to put up with.

I suppose I'll put an air horn on my bicycle... at 140dB everyone in a 5 mile radius will know about it when it's used :cool:
 

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