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Rude bicyclists?

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WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Past OR future Camino
2015 & 2016 (partial)
A complaining post by someone who gave up at Alto de Perdón included:
"- the bicycles are out of control. There were a few cyclists with shells on but there were far, far more local cycle clubs using the Camino trail as a training route. Why do none of these bikes have a horn or a bell to warn people they are coming from behind? The trail isn't even as wide as a sidewalk. There is no way to step to the side while wearing a backpack. It's not wide enough to comfortably accommodate both a bike and a walker. And even more numbers coming at you at race speed with local riders."

I've biked more than half of Francés and more than fifty kilometers on Vía de la Plata and walked maybe a quarter of Francés, so my perception is that this complaint is not completely fair. Some parts are narrow, but many are not. And when walking or biking slow, any cyclist who passed me warned me they were coming. As for warnings, my bike DOES have a bell, but often, after ringing the bell, hollering "bicycle passing" in Spanish, English, and another language, and slowing down to walking speed, pilgrims still seem startled when I finally pass them. And I never encountered more than two other cyclists together.
 
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Viva Terlingua

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Partial Frances (2018)
Full Frances 2022 (May-Jun)
What chafes me is when the path is only wide enough for one person and it’s next to the road, why can’t they ride on the road for that section?

Ps. I was always taught that pedestrians have the right of way, but the cyclists on the Camino expect you to move for them, especially when they are in a pack.
 
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truenorthpilgrim

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Geneva >> SJPdP May 2023
I agree it wasn't a fair assessment and glad that thread got locked. I've walked the CF twice, plus the Le Puy and consistently received a warning from passing cyclists, be it the ding of a bell or verbal alert, followed by a cheery "buen camino/bon chemin!".
 

Scott Sweeney

Veteran Member
In our little burg we have approximately 12 miles of paved and divided trails. In Virginia cyclists have to obey the same traffic laws as automobiles. On this trails you are expected to notify walkers you are coming up behind them. Vocally or with a bell. As walkers your also expected to move as far right as possible. On the Camino I'm sure there's a compromise but everybody has to be willing to compromise.
Let's just hope nobody gets hurt.
 
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bullingtonce

New Member
Past OR future Camino
I plan to do the Ruta de la Lana in August/September 2021
I've found that people riding bicycles are, for the most part, courteous. Being a solo walker, I can usually hear them coming, and move further to the right or stop and watch them pass with an exchange of Buen Caminos.
They may be rude, but they are a product of what came before--no more and no less. Just as bad/poor soil produces a poor plant, so does a bad/poor life experience. Perhaps the key is not the rude behavior happening but how one responds to it. Responding to it negatively does not affect the rude bicyclist one iota, but does it affect the person responding negatively? What do I know, but I suspect it does. And I suspect it does not affect this person in a positive vein. At the same time, it is so hard to not react.
Life . . . wish it was more simple than it is, but what do I know?
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
Here we go again with the bicyclist vs walking pilgrim feud. I guess what I find so unreasonable is that anybody could possibly think there's enough room on a narrow path for both foot pedestrians and bicyclists, and said bicyclists are approaching the foot pedestrians from the rear and the pedestrians do not know they are approaching. Even more when the blame is put on the walking pilgrim, who may be in conversation with other pilgrims and may be walking abreast across the path, which is what we humans do when we walk together. Throw in that the foot pilgrims may be older, slower reflexes and perhaps just not familiar with bicycles on a path. Pilgrims do come from all different backgrounds, not all expect bicycles to be approaching them from behind at 10-20 mph. Hope that's not news to anybody reading this, and please don't say that they should know. That's unrealistic.
I have actually had bicyclists on the Frances physically brush me, make contact with me as they went by and I saw one hit a pilgrim once on the stretch between Saint Jean and Roncesvalles. Fortunately he braked, stopped and the collision was minor, but he did strike the pilgrim from behind. I suppose I have observed at least a thousand pilgrims along different Camino routes and I gotta say, I never saw one walking pilgrim crash into another walking pilgrim. Heck, I've seen runners on the path and I never saw a runner collide with a pilgrim. I wonder why that is? 🤔
I guess it is a bitter pill to swallow, the fact that sections of the path that are narrow and popular, heavy with foot pilgrim traffic, simply cannot accommodate bicyclists as well when foot pilgrims are present. Instead of swallowing that pill I suppose the strategy is to shift the blame.
 
Past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
This subject has been covered many times on threads, but here I go...
My opinion was that the local bicycle clubs in Spain out for the weekend were rather unaccommodating to pilgrims when sharing paths; whizzing past with no warning and little respect...just my experience and observation. I would tell myself "ok, it's their country, I'm the guest," and try not to get too annoyed, even when I was startled or nearly knocked down.
On my way up to Alto del Perdon, a speeding bicyclist rounded a corner in the opposite direction above me that had a blind curve. I jumped out of the way just in time, but when he saw me he swerved at high speed going downhill, hit a rock, and had a very nasty fall below, moaning and just laying there; not getting up. Thankfully a Spanish speaking local from the area came to his rescue and removing his phone from his pocket, dialed his home so I hoped he was well taken care of.
I did feel sorry for his apparent injury, but felt it was his own fault.😐
 
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Viva Terlingua

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Partial Frances (2018)
Full Frances 2022 (May-Jun)
Here we go again with the bicyclist vs walking pilgrim feud. I guess what I find so unreasonable is that anybody could possibly think there's enough room on a narrow path for both foot pedestrians and bicyclists, and said bicyclists are approaching the foot pedestrians from the rear and the pedestrians do not know they are approaching. Even more when the blame is put on the walking pilgrim, who may be in conversation with other pilgrims and may be walking abreast across the path, which is what we humans do when we walk together. Throw in that the foot pilgrims may be older, slower reflexes and perhaps just not familiar with bicycles on a path. Pilgrims do come from all different backgrounds, not all expect bicycles to be approaching them from behind at 10-20 mph. Hope that's not news to anybody reading this, and please don't say that they should know. That's unrealistic.
I have actually had bicyclists on the Frances physically brush me, make contact with me as they went by and I saw one hit a pilgrim once on the stretch between Saint Jean and Roncesvalles. Fortunately he braked, stopped and the collision was minor, but he did strike the pilgrim from behind. I suppose I have observed at least a thousand pilgrims along different Camino routes and I gotta say, I never saw one walking pilgrim crash into another walking pilgrim. Heck, I've seen runners on the path and I never saw a runner collide with a pilgrim. I wonder why that is? 🤔
I guess it is a bitter pill to swallow, the fact that sections of the path that are narrow and popular, heavy with foot pilgrim traffic, simply cannot accommodate bicyclists as well when foot pilgrims are present. Instead of swallowing that pill I suppose the strategy is to shift the blame.
I think it’s gotten worse with the e-bikes. Now there are way more people doing bicycles. E-cyclists generally don’t have as much experience as regular cyclists. Most importantly, the e-bikes go a lot faster.
 
Past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
I think it’s gotten worse with the e-bikes. Now there are way more people doing bicycles. E-cyclists generally don’t have as much experience as regular cyclists. Most importantly, the e-bikes go a lot faster.
My experience was in April 2015 before E-bikes were "on the scene"...I can only imagine the possibilities now.😳
 

Xali1970

Planning the next one
Past OR future Camino
2016 Primitivo
2018 Pimitivo, VdlP
2022 Too Many
I think it’s gotten worse with the e-bikes. Now there are way more people doing bicycles. E-cyclists generally don’t have as much experience as regular cyclists. Most importantly, the e-bikes go a lot faster.
Actually, ebikes - at least the ones that are legal in Europe (aka pedelecs) - don't go any faster than regular bicycles. Granted, you may climb more easily and negate headwinds to a certain extent, but that's it. I actually go faster on my gravel bike than on my ebike.

S - Pedelecs are not that common (approx 2% of sales in Germany) being classified as motorcycles.

Where I do agree is that it gives a false sense of confidence and gets people onto trails they shouldn't be on. On the roads, it makes no difference.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I think that one of the forum’s main functions is catharsis — cyclists without bells, toilet paper on the camino, people wearing headlamps at 5am inside the albergue, snorers in albergues, annoying clacking hiking poles in cities and towns, and I’m sure there are more. But we all know we are pretty powerless to change these things, so the choice is to stew in your indignation or just try to deal with it.

These threads can also be a good head-up for those who haven’t walked. The camino is no different than our lives off-camino, with its annoyances, risks, accidents, and dangers. So when they say “the camino provides,” the direct object of that verb is not always going to be an unalloyed good.

And I will also say that if the annoyances are starting to outweigh the joys and enjoyment, maybe it’s time to switch to a less-traveled camino. I was delighted to see a cyclist on the Camino de Madrid since he was the first pilgrim I had seen in many days!
 

Viva Terlingua

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Partial Frances (2018)
Full Frances 2022 (May-Jun)
Actually, ebikes - at least the ones that are legal in Europe (aka pedelecs) - don't go any faster than regular bicycles. Granted, you may climb more easily and negate headwinds to a certain extent, but that's it. I actually go faster on my gravel bike than on my ebike.

S - Pedelecs are not that common (approx 2% of sales in Germany) being classified as motorcycles.

Where I do agree is that it gives a false sense of confidence and gets people onto trails they shouldn't be on. On the roads, it makes no difference.
I’m currently on the Frances and from what I’ve seen the e-bikes outnumber the regular bikes by about 3 to 1. While the people riding them may not be going faster than a competitive cyclist, they’re definitely going faster than they would be able to on a regular bike.
 
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Skinnybiker

The Skinny Biker in Spain
Past OR future Camino
Norte, Frances, Primitivo May 2022
By bike
I’m currently on the Frances and from what I’ve seen the e-bikes outnumber the regular bikes by about 3 to 1. While the people riding them may not be going faster than a competitive cyclist, they’re definitely going faster than they would be able to on a regular bike.
Were they on the camino or on the road? During May, riding the Frances, there seemed to be a few ebikes (3:1, difficult to quantify) but I saw them mainly on the road. Of course it's very difficult measure, some bikers only ride the road, some (like me) alternate depending on conditions & number of peregrinos but I suspect only a very few extreme bikers ride 100% camino. You're right, the main advantage of an ebike is the ease of climbing but a heavy eMTB gets stock on seriously rocky uphill sections.
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances. 2001
Via de la plata 2008
Arles -Piemonte-Frances-Cee 2014
(Bastan-Francés) 2019
Last month on the Camino Madrid I walked on a shared bicycle pedestrian path where pedestrians were instructed to walk on the left half and bicyclist were asked do use the right half.
This worked surprisingly well as when the bicyclist met pedestrians they had to change lanes and make a passing maneuver, and as a pedestrian the bicycles were all either in the other lane or if in your lane they were coming at you from ahead and not behind.
I tried this on other unmarked shared paths and it was working nicely until I intercepted the Frances at Sahagun.
The Francis is a one-way westbound free-for-all where I think you just have to take your chances.
 

Skinnybiker

The Skinny Biker in Spain
Past OR future Camino
Norte, Frances, Primitivo May 2022
By bike
Last month on the Camino Madrid I walked on a shared bicycle pedestrian path where pedestrians were instructed to walk on the left half and bicyclist were asked do use the right half.
This worked surprisingly well as when the bicyclist met pedestrians they had to change lanes and make a passing maneuver, and as a pedestrian the bicycles were all either in the other lane or if in your lane they were coming at you from ahead and not behind.
I tried this on other unmarked shared paths and it was working nicely until I intercepted the Frances at Sahagun.
The Francis is a one-way westbound free-for-all where I think you just have to take your chances.
The Francis is a one-way westbound free-for-all where I think you just have to take your chances.

That sums up the situation very concisely, Gary. Though it would seem more logical for the faster traffic (cyclists) to be on the left when overtaking.
 

Jopoke

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances September 2015
Lisbon to Santigo May 2016
Porto coastal route to Santiago Oct 2016
I'm a cyclist and a walker on a camino. As a cyclist I'd go on the rd as much as possible but sometimes the cycling route goes in with the walkers. I've had a bell, I've shouted, but when people are talking or walking with earbuds in, they still act startled even when I pass courteously. There is and always will be disagreements on this subject. As for an ebike that I will use for the Francigena next year, it only keeps to the speed that if use on a normal bike, it just gives me a little help at my age going up big hills.
 
Past OR future Camino
Sarria to Santiago 2019
Frances (sept 2022)
A complaining post by someone who gave up at Alto de Perdón included:
"- the bicycles are out of control. There were a few cyclists with shells on but there were far, far more local cycle clubs using the Camino trail as a training route. Why do none of these bikes have a horn or a bell to warn people they are coming from behind? The trail isn't even as wide as a sidewalk. There is no way to step to the side while wearing a backpack. It's not wide enough to comfortably accommodate both a bike and a walker. And even more numbers coming at you at race speed with local riders."

I've biked more than half of Francés and more than fifty kilometers on Vía de la Plata and walked maybe a quarter of Francés, so my perception is that this complaint is not completely fair. Some parts are narrow, but many are not. And when walking or biking slow, any cyclist who passed me warned me they were coming. As for warnings, my bike DOES have a bell, but often, after ringing the bell, hollering "bicycle passing" in Spanish, English, and another language, and slowing down to walking speed, pilgrims still seem startled when I finally pass them. And I never encountered more than two other cyclists together.
I walked Sarria to SJPP a few years back and we encountered many rude bicyclists. Some yelling for us to get out of their way. Racing too fast, and never using a bell or horn. Not all bicyclists are rude but most of the ones we encountered were.
 
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Lurch

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
looking at 2018-2019
I agree it wasn't a fair assessment and glad that thread got locked. I've walked the CF twice, plus the Le Puy and consistently received a warning from passing cyclists, be it the ding of a bell or verbal alert, followed by a cheery "buen camino/bon chemin!".
I am glad your travels have gone smoothly, but mine have been different. I have seen peds injured both from being struck and from suddenly having to clear the roadway. In my opinion, this is not rudeness, but rather a sense of entitlement, on many bicyclists part. Notice I did not say all. they want to have fun and be edgy, your concerns have no bearing on their actions, they are not important enough. As the gangs say about innocent victims of shootings in South L.A., they are just mushrooms that pop up in the way. Same with the peregrine/a.
 

RRat

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Planning 2017
A complaining post by someone who gave up at Alto de Perdón included:
"- the bicycles are out of control. There were a few cyclists with shells on but there were far, far more local cycle clubs using the Camino trail as a training route. Why do none of these bikes have a horn or a bell to warn people they are coming from behind? The trail isn't even as wide as a sidewalk. There is no way to step to the side while wearing a backpack. It's not wide enough to comfortably accommodate both a bike and a walker. And even more numbers coming at you at race speed with local riders."

I've biked more than half of Francés and more than fifty kilometers on Vía de la Plata and walked maybe a quarter of Francés, so my perception is that this complaint is not completely fair. Some parts are narrow, but many are not. And when walking or biking slow, any cyclist who passed me warned me they were coming. As for warnings, my bike DOES have a bell, but often, after ringing the bell, hollering "bicycle passing" in Spanish, English, and another language, and slowing down to walking speed, pilgrims still seem startled when I finally pass them. And I never encountered more than two other cyclists together.
What does not seem to be addressed is that while the path is for the most part wide enough it is not flat. There typically is a flat narrow section on the top left and right. Center is vee shaped and that's where the loose Gravel is more prominent. So if I'm on the top left or right do I have to yield to someone behind me. That places me in the weeds or jumping to the opposite side or walking in the center with all the loose Gravel. I realize the loose gravel and or transitioning from one side to the other is difficult for the cyclists but it is just as difficult for the walker.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
A complaining post by someone who gave up at Alto de Perdón included:
"- the bicycles are out of control. There were a few cyclists with shells on but there were far, far more local cycle clubs using the Camino trail as a training route. Why do none of these bikes have a horn or a bell to warn people they are coming from behind? The trail isn't even as wide as a sidewalk. There is no way to step to the side while wearing a backpack. It's not wide enough to comfortably accommodate both a bike and a walker. And even more numbers coming at you at race speed with local riders."

I've biked more than half of Francés and more than fifty kilometers on Vía de la Plata and walked maybe a quarter of Francés, so my perception is that this complaint is not completely fair. Some parts are narrow, but many are not. And when walking or biking slow, any cyclist who passed me warned me they were coming. As for warnings, my bike DOES have a bell, but often, after ringing the bell, hollering "bicycle passing" in Spanish, English, and another language, and slowing down to walking speed, pilgrims still seem startled when I finally pass them. And I never encountered more than two other cyclists together.
The cyclists she is talking about I think are the groups of competitive cyclists who use the Camino pathways to train. Riding really fast, dressed in matching lycra, and swooping around the pilgrims. No bell, no warning, and 8 others close behind.
I encountered it mostly in the Navarre region. Mentally I tell myself, well it is their country. But I think with increased volumes of pilgrims there will be a serious incident and someone is likely to be killed..
In that area they came around, up and over, on blind corners and narrow pathways, sometimes with vegetation encroaching, really fast, no warning, and several times I had to pin myself back against the vegetation to avoid being hit.
I imagine the use of the path as a cycle training trail probably started back when there were fewer pilgrims. I think there are more cycle training groups around in weekends, which would make sense, so I guess your timing as a pilgrim will dictate whether you encounter them much.

As for pilgrims not hearing the bike bells of cycling pilgrims, I think that is to be expected to a certain extent on a Camino.
Walking pilgrims are often caught up in their thoughts whilst walking - its a natural walking pilgrim behaviour. Walking along, immersed in the natural world, lost in meditative thought - its often the reason we walk the Camino in the first place.
 

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
I imagine the use of the path as a cycle training trail probably started back when there were fewer pilgrims.
When the Camino Frances paths were originally chosen and signposted there were very few offroad-capable bikes. Cyclists mostly used road touring or racing bikes and therefore stayed on sealed roads. The huge growth in pilgrim numbers on the Frances has coincided with the rising popularity of mountain bikes. An unhappy combination.
 
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There is always going to be a torsion when you have two things on the same path moving at wildly different speeds. Cyclists on the road often complain in the same way about cars. Having just completed the VDP from Cadiz to Muxia it was rare to receive warnings but the local cyclists were imho by far the most considerate and most encouraging. My worst cyclist experience was coming back from the shower to find the late arriving pilgrim cyclists had removed our items from our bunk in our absence and decided they needed our bunks more than us and refusing to budge. Luckily commonsense finally prevailed just before a bicycle wheel was anally inserted sideways, but it was a unique camino experience from a very entitled group.
 
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Tandem Graham

E ultreia e suseia, Deus adjuva nos
Past OR future Camino
Bike UK-SdC, Lana
Walk Le Puy-SdC
'22: VDLP
I walk or cycle, both on caminos and on other routes.
Steering a tandem I am acutely aware of the extra weight and therefore inertia we carry, and so go carefully and slowly where we might encounter walkers, with a bellring from both of us, together with a friendly "hello/buen camino" warnings of our approach. I offer no defence for those cyclists racing in groups or who fail to sound a bell. Cyclists must take steps to avoid unnecessary conflicts.
However, I'm not sure that walkers who wear earphones and are lost in their music are taking proper responsibility for their own safety.
Most (though not all) camino paths are dual use. Some had established use from local cyclists before they were adopted and signed as pilgrim paths. Therefore cyclists should be prepared to slow down and sound their bells to pass pedestrian pilgrims, while pedestrians should expect to be alert for cyclists, who will often approach from behind them.
In our case, if walkers don't turn or otherwise acknowledge our bells and shouts on approach, we will slow to 4mph (6km/h, walking speed) in order to overtake, usually to the left of them. However, on several occasions walkers have suddenly stepped sideways into our path, oblivious to our presence - and it seems were absorbed in an audiobook or a tune through their headphones/ear buds (the latter being almost invisible from behind). Only alert steering and braking saved (admittedly low speed) collisions.
As well as being a cyclist and a walker, I am also a competitive trail runner. In most organised running events in the UK, earbuds or headphones are banned, for reasons of safety and out of consideration for other runners and marshalls. Are they safe and considerate on the Camino?
 
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Camino Frances, Finisterre & Muxia (2018)
Camino Portuguese - Lisbon (2019)
Here we go again with the bicyclist vs walking pilgrim feud. I guess what I find so unreasonable is that anybody could possibly think there's enough room on a narrow path for both foot pedestrians and bicyclists, and said bicyclists are approaching the foot pedestrians from the rear and the pedestrians do not know they are approaching. Even more when the blame is put on the walking pilgrim, who may be in conversation with other pilgrims and may be walking abreast across the path, which is what we humans do when we walk together. Throw in that the foot pilgrims may be older, slower reflexes and perhaps just not familiar with bicycles on a path. Pilgrims do come from all different backgrounds, not all expect bicycles to be approaching them from behind at 10-20 mph. Hope that's not news to anybody reading this, and please don't say that they should know. That's unrealistic.
I have actually had bicyclists on the Frances physically brush me, make contact with me as they went by and I saw one hit a pilgrim once on the stretch between Saint Jean and Roncesvalles. Fortunately he braked, stopped and the collision was minor, but he did strike the pilgrim from behind. I suppose I have observed at least a thousand pilgrims along different Camino routes and I gotta say, I never saw one walking pilgrim crash into another walking pilgrim. Heck, I've seen runners on the path and I never saw a runner collide with a pilgrim. I wonder why that is? 🤔
I guess it is a bitter pill to swallow, the fact that sections of the path that are narrow and popular, heavy with foot pilgrim traffic, simply cannot accommodate bicyclists as well when foot pilgrims are present. Instead of swallowing that pill I suppose the strategy is to shift the blame.
I walk quite fast/faster than most. When I come up behind other walkers I rest my poles and wait for a suitable opportunity to pass and say hello/buen camino beforehand to not startle other walkers (or the odd cyclist). It's just courtesy. Just because I'm going faster does not entitle me or anyone else to expect instantaneous movement from someone else already on the track.
 
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Camino Frances, Finisterre & Muxia (2018)
Camino Portuguese - Lisbon (2019)
I walk or cycle, both on caminos and on other routes.
Steering a tandem I am acutely aware of the extra weight and therefore inertia we carry, and so go carefully and slowly where we might encounter walkers, with a bellring from both of us, together with a friendly "hello/buen camino" warnings of our approach. I offer no defence for those cyclists racing in groups or who fail to sound a bell. Cyclists must take steps to avoid unnecessary conflicts.
However, I'm not sure that walkers who wear earphones and are lost in their music are taking proper responsibility for their own safety.
Most (though not all) camino paths are dual use. Some had established use from local cyclists before they were adopted and signed as pilgrim paths. Therefore cyclists should be prepared to slow down and sound their bells to pass pedestrian pilgrims, while pedestrians should expect to be alert for cyclists, who will often approach from behind them.
In our case, if walkers don't turn or otherwise acknowledge our bells and shouts on approach, we will slow to 4mph (6km/h, walking speed) in order to overtake, usually to the left of them. However, on several occasions walkers have suddenly stepped sideways into our path, oblivious to our presence - and it seems were absorbed in an audiobook or a tune through their headphones/ear buds (the latter being almost invisible from behind). Only alert steering and braking saved (admittedly low speed) collisions.
As well as being a cyclist and a walker, I am also a competitive trail runner. In most organised running events in the UK, earbuds or headphones are banned, for reasons of safety and out of consideration for other runners and marshalls. Are they safe and considerate on the Camino?
But it's not a race...it's a camino. Pause, breathe, enjoy and be patient .... till it's safe/reasonable to pass.
 
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Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
As well as being a cyclist and a walker, I am also a competitive trail runner. In most organised running events in the UK, earbuds or headphones are banned, for reasons of safety and out of consideration for other runners and marshalls. Are they safe and considerate on the Camino?
They are probably unwise given current numbers of cyclists and walkers. But I can't help feeling sad that it has now reached the point where walking the Camino is comparable to taking part in competitive sports events.
 
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Camino Frances, Finisterre & Muxia (2018)
Camino Portuguese - Lisbon (2019)
"It" is a public path across Spain. For many of the cyclists, it is not a pilgrimage; it IS a race, or training for one. Therein lies the problem.
Yep, but for me it was the pilgrim cyclists who lacked the courtesy or patience.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
I walk or cycle, both on caminos and on other routes.
Steering a tandem I am acutely aware of the extra weight and therefore inertia we carry, and so go carefully and slowly where we might encounter walkers, with a bellring from both of us, together with a friendly "hello/buen camino" warnings of our approach. I offer no defence for those cyclists racing in groups or who fail to sound a bell. Cyclists must take steps to avoid unnecessary conflicts.
However, I'm not sure that walkers who wear earphones and are lost in their music are taking proper responsibility for their own safety.
Most (though not all) camino paths are dual use. Some had established use from local cyclists before they were adopted and signed as pilgrim paths. Therefore cyclists should be prepared to slow down and sound their bells to pass pedestrian pilgrims, while pedestrians should expect to be alert for cyclists, who will often approach from behind them.
In our case, if walkers don't turn or otherwise acknowledge our bells and shouts on approach, we will slow to 4mph (6km/h, walking speed) in order to overtake, usually to the left of them. However, on several occasions walkers have suddenly stepped sideways into our path, oblivious to our presence - and it seems were absorbed in an audiobook or a tune through their headphones/ear buds (the latter being almost invisible from behind). Only alert steering and braking saved (admittedly low speed) collisions.
As well as being a cyclist and a walker, I am also a competitive trail runner. In most organised running events in the UK, earbuds or headphones are banned, for reasons of safety and out of consideration for other runners and marshalls. Are they safe and considerate on the Camino?
It really is unrealistic to expect the walking pilgrims to not have earbuds on, or have their face buried in a device looking at an app while walking, oblivious to surroundings. Same with several engrossed in conversation walking abreast across the path and of course pilgrims deep in thought while walking. Unrealistic to expect pilgrims to walk defensively, and good Lord who would want to? What would be the point of walking the Camino if one were not able to walk in a relaxed manner. Like I said earlier, the foot pilgrims are not the problem here. Unreasonable to shift the blame.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Always one of those 'hot' debates. Having been hit 3 times by cyclists, I no longer have any tolerance of them, sorry. :( I'll stick to the more remote Caminos now.

I can understand the attraction of course. Why ride on the road when you can ride amazing trails. It must be mountain bike heaven!
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
These threads can also be a good head-up for those who haven’t walked. The camino is no different than our lives off-camino, with its annoyances, risks, accidents, and dangers. So when they say “the camino provides,” the direct object of that verb is not always going to be an unalloyed good.
Thank you for making this point. It is also useful for those of us who are engaged in helping prepare future pilgrims in our local communities to be reminded about these and other annoyances and frustrations, and include them in our discussions.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
In our case, if walkers don't turn or otherwise acknowledge our bells and shouts on approach, we will slow to 4mph (6km/h, walking speed) in order to overtake, usually to the left of them. However, on several occasions walkers have suddenly stepped sideways into our path, oblivious to our presence -
I would be one of those pilgrims who accidentally step in front. Its because I'm conditioned to our driving conditions, where all passing is done on the right. Passing on the left is either bad form or illegal.
Its normal for me to step left to get out of the way.
In Spain of course I try not to get run over when crossing the road by accidentally looking the wrong way, and normally get it right when I make a deliberate and thought-through action. (Although it takes a while before seeing drivers sitting on the left stops weirding me out)
Its when I get a surprise that I sometimes step in the 'wrong' direction.
Remember that pilgrims do come from all over the world, and have different experiences.
We don't set out to be 'run over' but the occasional surprised mis-step happens.
 
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This is a
I would be one of those pilgrims who accidentally step in front. Its because I'm conditioned to our driving conditions, where all passing is done on the right. Passing on the left is either bad form or illegal.
Its normal for me to step left to get out of the way.
In Spain of course I try not to get run over when crossing the road by accidentally looking the wrong way, and normally get it right when I make a deliberate and thought-through action. (Although it takes a while before seeing drivers sitting on the left stops weirding me out)
Its when I get a surprise that I sometimes step in the 'wrong' direction.
Remember that pilgrims do come from all over the world, and have different experiences.
We don't set out to be 'run over' but the occasional surprised mis-step happens.
This is a good observation you make. In the US we drive on the right ride of the road and when I've been in other countries that drive on the left side, thankfully I've never been the one driving. When walking🚶, especially in cities, I have not always been vigilant in looking carefully before crossing streets because my reaction is to turn my head in the opposite direction to check traffic when stepping off a curb. I've had a couple of near misses, but fortunately been pulled back by others.
 

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Francés ('15, '19)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
I'm walking from home right now, and I've shared the path with bikes more often than with other hikers, so far.

Hundreds of kms on bike paths, because they're more direct and easier to walk than many of the Camino paths, which often seemed to be designed more for the day walker looking for the scenic route (often double the kms as via the bike path for the same section).

Most cyclists were very friendly and had no problem with a person on foot on their path. The long distance cyclists with their big bags were especially friendly (we're kind of doing the same thing!), but also the locals on their way to work, tourists on a day trip, and even the more sportive ones often greeted smiling while overtaking with a lot of speed. I saw myself as a guest on their way and tried to move out of the way when necessary long before they had to use their bell or shout (sometimes the rules were not clear to me - some cyclists seemed to expect me to walk on the right side as the slower traffic, some that I'd walk on the left, as you do on the road? I still haven't figured it out, got one "marchez à la gauche, pu**** de me***!", but that was the only bad experience.

Anyway, what I want to say is, that respect from both sides is needed, and then the path can be used by both. On a difficult, narrow section of the camino, it is often simply not possible for a walker to step to the side quickly. Cyclists should stop and get off their bike then and wait / push until it's safely possible. I happily step off the trail into a bush to let a cyclist pass by, even on a designated walking path. But some cyclists seem to think that they always got the right of way because they're faster, and that foot traffic will jump to the side immediately, and that's the kind of behaviour that leads to accidents. I don't see that as specific to cyclists, but just as egoism and a lack of manners - just like foot pilgrims walking in the middle of the road, not stepping aside to let cars with people on their way to work pass by, or cars speeding by cyclists on the road without keeping a safe distance.

My solution as a walking pilgrim is to always expect a bike or something else coming, same as when walking on the road. Walk with an open ear. I've had quads, horses, motor cycles, even cars, come up behind me in the middle of nowhere in the woods (far away from the busy Francés!). We pilgrims on foot are not the only ones out there, so expect to share the path with many nice, and some rude people, may it be on foot, on bike, or something else.

I understand the need for catharsis, but it really shouldn't be an 'us vs them'. That's just sad and doesn't lead anywhere positive, in my opinion.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
some cyclists seemed to expect me to walk on the right side as the slower traffic, some that I'd walk on the left, as you do on the road? I still haven't figured it out, got one "marchez à la gauche, pu**** de me***!", but that was the only bad experience.
Aïe. Now that I think about it: On a dedicated bicycle lane that can also be used by pedestrians and that is used by cyclists in only one direction, it does make sense for the pedestrian to walk on the left. We have these where I live but I don't recall having noticed such lanes on the Camino Francés. I tend to walk on the right, or I move to the right, when I am on a minor country (dirt or gravel) road or even a narrow trail that is also used by cyclists.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
We are, of course, discussing issues all along the 800 km of the Camino Francés which is not a purpose-built trail for long-distance pilgrims on foot but a mixture of mostly already existing roads and paths for local use that have been combined to form a whole and, to a certain degree, have also been adapted for their new purpose.

Just for fun, and also for those who have not walked yet, here is the description of the Camino Francés from the edge of Pamplona to the top of the ridge of the Alto del Perdón in words and in images:
The trail isn't even as wide as a sidewalk. There is no way to step to the side while wearing a backpack. It's not wide enough to comfortably accommodate both a bike and a walker. And even more numbers coming at you at race speed with local riders.

First part (after Cizur Menor and where the CF crosses the NA-6004 road to the village of Galar); middle bit after the village of Zariquiegui; end bit and actual ascent.
Alto.jpg
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
It really is unrealistic to expect the walking pilgrims to not have earbuds on, or have their face buried in a device looking at an app while walking, oblivious to surroundings. Same with several engrossed in conversation walking abreast across the path and of course pilgrims deep in thought while walking.
My solution as a walking pilgrim is to always expect a bike or something else coming, same as when walking on the road. Walk with an open ear.

These are the two attitudes available to walking pilgrims. Regardless of whether you think it’s reasonable behavior or not, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth the risk to walk four abreast, deeply engrossed in conversation, with earbuds on, or with your face buried in an app.
 
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Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
A "Tourigrino" trip once Covid has passed, so 2023
I've found that people riding bicycles are, for the most part, courteous. Being a solo walker, I can usually hear them coming, and move further to the right or stop and watch them pass with an exchange of Buen Caminos.
I wear hearing aids in both ears - the result of a long career in heavy civil engineering - I do not wear them while out walking as the wind noise drives me crazy.
I also ride a bike. It has a bell. A very loud one.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
A "Tourigrino" trip once Covid has passed, so 2023
These are the two attitudes available to walking pilgrims. Regardless of whether you think it’s reasonable behavior or not, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth the risk to walk four abreast, deeply engrossed in conversation, with earbuds on, or with your face buried in an app.
As I commented at #43 I wear hearing aids in both ears - the result of a long career in heavy civil engineering - I do not wear them while out walking as the wind noise drives me crazy.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
These are the two attitudes available to walking pilgrims. Regardless of whether you think it’s reasonable behavior or not, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth the risk to walk four abreast, deeply engrossed in conversation, with earbuds on, or with your face buried in an app.
My point was people are people, and always will be with their sensible ways and non. It's not going to change no matter how much ranting, raving and finger pointing occurs. One has to keep that in mind when one bicycles trails filled with walking pilgrims.
 
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Grousedoctor

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I’ve both walked and cycled Caminos (6 in all). Just back from the Portugués por La Costa. After having been away for two years due to Covid, there were certainly some differences this time. With regard to this thread, there was a significant increase in cyclists. Specifically, there were many more cyclists in groups sometimes as large as twenty plus Portuguese or Spanish riders. As none of the group riders had paniers or only carried minimal equipment, like a day pack with them, speeds and “less careful” riding seemed more the norm rather than the exception. We were almost hit more than once particularly as riders were going downhill and around curves. It really was a situation of “walker beware.” In almost every case, the cyclists were pilgrims as they were getting their credentials stamped along The Way. Unfortunately, when traveling in such large groups, certain common courtesies that individual cyclists would observe seem to be lost to adrenaline and group think. I don’t see this as really changing anytime soon if organized bike Caminos seem to be more the norm rather than the exception for local riders. Therefore walkers, vigilance to your surrounding is the single best piece of advice I can offer. You won’t necessarily hear a cyclist approaching from behind and I saw very few with bells on their bikes. Second, avoid ear buds for your own safety. Although my bike at home has I bell and I use it when approaching walkers or passing other cyclists, if they are wearing ear buds listening to music, they don’t hear my alert most of the time.
 
Past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
The path is for everyone and I estimate over half of walkers are the visitors to Spain's country. I still take issue with the bicyclists. I realize walkers should be observant for all the reasons mentioned in this thread, but I feel the burden of care always falls on the bicyclists, not the walkers, as they🚲 see us, usually from behind. If a car driving on a road sees a walker or bicyclist ahead of them, they slow way down, move over, etc to avoid hitting them, even if the biker/walker is being...
(EDIT), oblivious to their surroundings and have put themselves in harms way..
 
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chinacat

Veteran Member
Hmm, UK law would suggest that pedestrians have priority over all other users on the Queen's Highway. Try exercising that on the M25 ;)

psst ..
I don’t think pedestrians are permitted to walk on our motorways 😉

I find some of them terrifying enough in a car!!
eg the M4 near Heathrow or the M5 north of the M4 … 😳
 

chinacat

Veteran Member
Perhaps we could all wear those orange stick things that cyclists used to use on their wheels to encourage motorists to keep their distance?

They might provide a gentle reminder of the need for some distance between road/path users? 😉
 
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LJF

New Member
Past OR future Camino
sept 2020
A complaining post by someone who gave up at Alto de Perdón included:
"- the bicycles are out of control. There were a few cyclists with shells on but there were far, far more local cycle clubs using the Camino trail as a training route. Why do none of these bikes have a horn or a bell to warn people they are coming from behind? The trail isn't even as wide as a sidewalk. There is no way to step to the side while wearing a backpack. It's not wide enough to comfortably accommodate both a bike and a walker. And even more numbers coming at you at race speed with local riders."

I've biked more than half of Francés and more than fifty kilometers on Vía de la Plata and walked maybe a quarter of Francés, so my perception is that this complaint is not completely fair. Some parts are narrow, but many are not. And when walking or biking slow, any cyclist who passed me warned me they were coming. As for warnings, my bike DOES have a bell, but often, after ringing the bell, hollering "bicycle passing" in Spanish, English, and another language, and slowing down to walking speed, pilgrims still seem startled when I finally pass them. And I never encountered more than two other cyclists together.
I have to agree with you, especially when it comes to packs of riders expecting those on foot to move aside for them. There are the polite riders, but they were in the minority. I completed the Frances recently and know of a rider who was hit by a cyclist, ending their journey. Those on foot should not have to move for those on their bikes
 

Marbe2

Active member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
There are still some places along the CF where there is not sufficient room for a bike to pass a person. I really try to avoid such situations and anticipate cyclists, when spaces narrow. But, I absolutely do not intend to jump in the bushes to let a bike through! The cyclist should get off their bike and walk his/her bike until there is a clearing. Or, ride,themselves in the weeds, or, better yet, take the road in those situations.

Btw, for the most part, pilgrim cyclists were at least pretty good about slowing down as they past us in May. The dangerous times we experienced were when the racing groups came by.
 
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domigee

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022 CF
A complaining post by someone who gave up at Alto de Perdón included:
"- the bicycles are out of control. There were a few cyclists with shells on but there were far, far more local cycle clubs using the Camino trail as a training route. Why do none of these bikes have a horn or a bell to warn people they are coming from behind? The trail isn't even as wide as a sidewalk. There is no way to step to the side while wearing a backpack. It's not wide enough to comfortably accommodate both a bike and a walker. And even more numbers coming at you at race speed with local riders."

I've biked more than half of Francés and more than fifty kilometers on Vía de la Plata and walked maybe a quarter of Francés, so my perception is that this complaint is not completely fair. Some parts are narrow, but many are not. And when walking or biking slow, any cyclist who passed me warned me they were coming. As for warnings, my bike DOES have a bell, but often, after ringing the bell, hollering "bicycle passing" in Spanish, English, and another language, and slowing down to walking speed, pilgrims still seem startled when I finally pass them. And I never encountered more than two other cyclists together.
I have befriended quite a few cyclists on the Camino francés and yes, most of them are lovely and considerate. (The ones I talked to anyway 🙂)
However….
I have also witnessed incredibly dangerous and thoughtless behaviour! I sometimes feared for my life (and that of other pilgrims in the vicinity) and also for the life of those cyclists!! I specifically recall one descent to Zubiri and two ladies cyclists totally out of control, not one of us walking pilgrims could help them and I feared the worst. There were many other such occasions. There are also at times clear signs, ‘walkers this way, cyclists that way’… and guess what? Yes, the cyclists were on that very narrow path which was meant only for walkers.
This said, there were very very few cyclists last year and not many this April/May either… And I quite enjoyed it 😉
 
Past OR future Camino
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I hope some feel better now, getting that off their chest. I wonder if there is an extreme mountain-biking forum, (in Spanish), complaining about all the stupid walkers crowding the bike tracks. The culprits are there to test their prowess (usually considerable), and probably testing their skill at zooming by without killing anyone. It's a fact of life, but seems to be only a real problem on the Francés. Is anyone on the VdlP complaining?
 

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
It's a fact of life, but seems to be only a real problem on the Francés. Is anyone on the VdlP complaining?
If you look at the statistics for 2019 - the last pre-Covid year - you will see that the number of pilgrims who walked the Camino Frances is twenty times greater than those who chose the VdlP. And much of the VdlP follows wide farm tracks on relatively flat ground with excellent visibility for long distances. I walked the VdlP from Seville in January and February and encountered around 25 other pilgrims in total. And probably a similar number of cyclists. Over a journey of nearly 1000km. The two routes are hardly comparable.
 
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If you look at the statistics for 2019 - the last pre-Covid year - you will see that the number of pilgrims who walked the Camino Frances is twenty times greater than those who chose the VdlP. And much of the VdlP follows wide farm tracks on relatively flat ground with excellent visibility for long distances. I walked the VdlP from Seville in January and February and encountered around 25 other pilgrims in total. And probably a similar number of cyclists. Over a journey of nearly 1000km. The two routes are hardly comparable.
I couldn't agree more.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Is anyone on the VdlP complaining?
I can only speak for my time on the Caminho do Tejo and Camino Portuguese this year. Yes, there were cyclists, mostly considerate when they passed me. It's hard to tell, but many after Porto were clearly pilgrims rather than locals out for a ride on their local tracks.

There were some instances where walking pilgrims in groups didn't help when they spread out across the path and weren't attentive to cyclists coming up behind them signalling their approach. At other times, when there was ample room, cyclists would pass without signalling their approach, which was sometimes a surprize, but there was never really much risk involved. On narrow stretches, cyclists gave me enough warning, and I would stand at the side of the track and let them pass. Most of them had slowed down anyhow, and they never did this at great speed. It was a mixed bag of behaviours, but there wasn't any obviously dangerous behaviour.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances; Aragones; VdlP; Madrid-Invierno; Levante
The only really dangerous behaviour which I observed by a cyclist was on the Madrid: a hilly location before the climb to the pass. He was coming down a hill very fast , his bicycle leaping and bounding in deep grooves on the hillside, apparently totally out of control. I was slightly out of his path and not afraid for my own safety, but nonetheless anxious about observing a serious fall. If he was counting on adequate first aide assistance from passing pilgrims, he had certainly come upon the wrong woman. If he had fallen, and survived, I was quite ready to point that out to him.
 

m108

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
2011-2016
I'll stick to the more remote Caminos now.
Part of the Camino de Madrid is along the "Via pecuaria". Unfortunately, I didn’t photograph the board, but the priority instructions are clear: animals have priority. Then pedestrians. Then tillage machines. And finally cyclists and cars (also on paved sections). And that's what everyone sticks to. Especially if bull are walking calmly along the path 🤣 . Horses and cows are just curious and come to see you from time to time when you retreat to the edge of the path.
I was thrilled, after the initial concern about close encounters with creatures that are significantly larger than me.
Everything went smoothly - probably as a result of very few people and cyclists and everyone following the instructions. And not to discourage future pilgrims on the Camino de Madrid - meeting the animals was absolutely unproblematic (they are calm and probably used to people) and not often.
Definitely the atmosphere of "remote Caminos" suits me much better than currently on CF. It is more similar to my first Camino 2011.
 
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Jopoke

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances September 2015
Lisbon to Santigo May 2016
Porto coastal route to Santiago Oct 2016
Can we close this conversation it will go on and on and get no where. It's the same old white van and cycle scenario only pilgrims. Perhaps you need to write to the Spanish government to put signs on certain parts of the path saying no cyclists.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Can we close this conversation it will go on and on and get no where. It's the same old white van and cycle scenario only pilgrims. Perhaps you need to write to the Spanish government to put signs on certain parts of the path saying no cyclists.
A couple of things:
a. yes, it is unrealistic to expect this, and many other subjects forum member vent about, to resolve anything. Its value is in the discussion, not in achieving any particular resolution. The cycle is much the same most years, and starts with someone getting excited about some aspect or other that they didn't like, and posting about that. Others will chime in, agreeing or disagreeing, proposing solutions for others to implement, suggesting ways for the local councils to spend money on pilgrims rather than the priorities of the local residents, etc, etc. This process might be cathartic, and people will let go of the topic in due course.
b. if it doesn't interest you, ignore it. While others are still interested in engaging in the discussion, politely and within the forum rules, let them, and do something you find more useful.

ps. if you think someone should write to the Spanish government, be that someone!
 

Skinnybiker

The Skinny Biker in Spain
Past OR future Camino
Norte, Frances, Primitivo May 2022
By bike
Can we close this conversation it will go on and on and get no where. It's the same old white van and cycle scenario only pilgrims. Perhaps you need to write to the Spanish government to put signs on certain parts of the path saying no cyclists.
Yes, close it down I say before there's any more discussion about walking quieter caminos which is exactly my thought so as to avoid all those annoying peregrinos hogging the bike trail - haha - else the "quiet" caminos will become as crowded as the CF. Seriously though it's a good discussion, well I enjoy it, but it's all about me / me just like localism in surfing (I used to hate those boogie boarders) and Brits Abroad (we don't do it that way back home). Is it just another one of those first-world problems - I've paid all this money to go for a walk in a foreign country and now there are all these locals riding bikes, aghh?

One more thing; all those who state something like "the biker was doing a million mile / hour totally out of control" perhaps don't ride bikes, he was totally in control, nobody rides a bike "out of control" - rant over.

Buen Camino - a respectful (I hope) bicigrino.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Yes, close it down I say before there's any more discussion about walking quieter caminos which is exactly my thought so as to avoid all those annoying peregrinos hogging the bike trail - haha - else the "quiet" caminos will become as crowded as the CF. Seriously though it's a good discussion, well I enjoy it,

I know @Skinnybiker that you are making a joke. But, sometimes, do we actually, cut off discussions prematurely? By all means, hostile, or degrading comments should be deleted. So what if some people repeat similar comments? Do we all always read every comment on a thread before expressing our perspective?

How many times have people answered questions and opinions about poles, backbacks,etc? Does not any camino related topic topic deserve thorough airing. To discontinue a topic because we don’t like another’s perspective, IMO does us all a disservice. As long as such expression follows the rules, Allowing more threads to peter out, rather than closing them might better serve the need for catharsis and information. If one thinks the topic is “exhausted” then stop reading it….but let the thread die on its own.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I’ve resisted closing this thread because, as I said earlier, I think it’s a good heads up for walking pilgrims. Be aware that there are many cyclists on certain days and on certain parts of some of the heavily traveled caminos. And some percentage of them will be careless or rude. Walking pilgrims have been injured by cyclists.

But I totally agree that arguing the merits of the two sides is pointless. So long as the thread stays on the side of pointing out experiences, venting, and expressing hope for improved conduct on the part of both walkers and bicyclists, I think it should stay open. It would be very nice to finally see one thread about cyclists die on its own without being closed because of caustic sniping. That’s what I’m hoping for, let’s see.
 
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Jopoke

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances September 2015
Lisbon to Santigo May 2016
Porto coastal route to Santiago Oct 2016
A couple of things:
a. yes, it is unrealistic to expect this, and many other subjects forum member vent about, to resolve anything. Its value is in the discussion, not in achieving any particular resolution. The cycle is much the same most years, and starts with someone getting excited about some aspect or other that they didn't like, and posting about that. Others will chime in, agreeing or disagreeing, proposing solutions for others to implement, suggesting ways for the local councils to spend money on pilgrims rather than the priorities of the local residents, etc, etc. This process might be cathartic, and people will let go of the topic in due course.
b. if it doesn't interest you, ignore it. While others are still interested in engaging in the discussion, politely and within the forum rules, let them, and do something you find more useful.

ps. if you think someone should write to the Spanish government, be that someone!
I don't need to I'm not complaining 😉
 
Past OR future Camino
First one in 1977 by train. Many since then by foot. Next one ASAP.
My 2-cents worth? I'm a big guy, and hard to miss. I pay attention to my surroundings, and never walk with anything in my ears.... But over the course of many pilgrimages, over many years, on many different Camino routes, I've been knocked down by cyclists more than once, and repeatedly frightened/angered by them. I have zero sympathy for them! And do not think of them as fellow peregrinos.

Sorry to sound so uncharitable.. But there we are, eh? ... (Pax.)
 
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Viva Terlingua

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Partial Frances (2018)
Full Frances 2022 (May-Jun)
I’ve resisted closing this thread because, as I said earlier, I think it’s a good heads up for walking pilgrims. Be aware that there are many cyclists on certain days and on certain parts of some of the heavily traveled caminos. And some percentage of them will be careless or rude. Walking pilgrims have been injured by cyclists.

But I totally agree that arguing the merits of the two sides is pointless. So long as the thread stays on the side of pointing out experiences, venting, and expressing hope for improved conduct on the part of both walkers and bicyclists, I think it should stay open. It would be very nice to finally see one thread about cyclists die on its own without being closed because of caustic sniping. That’s what I’m hoping for, let’s see.
I think the problem is one of volume. The advent of e bikes has made it possible for many more people to ride the Camino. So now there are way more bikers on the path. So they become more intrusive. I do think that eventually you will need separate trails or the bikes will need to stick to the roads.

I am an avid mountain biker but think it is unrealistic to have large numbers of hikers and bikers on the same trail without problems.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
My 2-cents worth? I'm a big guy, and hard to miss. I pay attention to my surroundings, and never walk with anything in my ears.... But over the course of many pilgrimages, over many years, on many different Camino routes, I've been knocked down by cyclists more than once, and repeatedly frightened/angered by them. I have zero sympathy for them! And do not think of them as fellow peregrinos.

Sorry. But pax.
I can understand your perspective. My sister has been hit by a bike and we both have had close calls at other times, on and off the Camino. Even when there are parrallel paths, still some cyclists take the one heavily traveled by walkers? However, there are also many, many polite cyclists, on the trail, who do slow down, warn you mostly verbally and do not put walkers in danger. One thing that might help is signage, to keep bikes separated off paths are too narrow on the CF.
 
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Viva Terlingua

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Partial Frances (2018)
Full Frances 2022 (May-Jun)
I can understand your perspective. My sister has been hit by a bike and we both have had close calls at other times, on and off the Camino. Even when there are parrallel paths, still some cyclists take the one heavily traveled by walkers? However, there are also many, many polite cyclists, on the trail, who do slow down, warn you mostly verbally and do not put walkers in danger. One thing that might help is signage, to keep bikes separated off paths are too narrow on the CF.
Today between Sarria and Portomarin there was a sign that directed walkers to the right on a gravel path and cyclists to the left on the pavement. I saw a cyclist slow down, look at the sign, and proceed to ride on the walking path.
 
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Marbe2

Active member
Past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Today between Sarria and Portomarin there was a sign that directed walkers to the right on a gravel path and cyclists to the left on the pavement. I saw a cyclist slow down, look at the sign, and proceed to ride on the walking path.
Yes,I know! And there is need for more than signage. But some riders do follow the signs, and there are places that have no need signage and should.
 
Past OR future Camino
First one in 1977 by train. Many since then by foot. Next one ASAP.
I think the problem is one of volume. The advent of e bikes has made it possible for many more people to ride the Camino. So now there are way more bikers on the path.
On my 2021 and 2022 walks (CF, CI) it seemed to me that conventional cyclists numbers were way up....

But e-bikers? Didn't encounter too many of them!
 

Skinnybiker

The Skinny Biker in Spain
Past OR future Camino
Norte, Frances, Primitivo May 2022
By bike
Yes, I was joking about closing down this thread, apologies to those whose humour is not of the British strain. It is difficult to understand how bikers manage to collide with peregrinos, as so many of you have said does happen. Riding on any trail I'm always aware that there may be another cyclist or a hiker just around the next corner. However I have noticed, riding locally, that many of the Spanish riders expect me to give way, which I usually do, without them having to stop. It could be a cultural thing, have you noticed how the Spanish at pedestrian crossings will walk across without looking - frightens me - expecting all traffic to see them & stop? And Spanish riders often ride in groups so the herd mentality takes over (perhaps) - I don't know, all you peregrinos can do is remain aware at all times. And when I said that bikers don't ride out of control well, obviously I meant it takes some external event or force to make a bike crash (Newton's first law).
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances; Aragones; VdlP; Madrid-Invierno; Levante
I should like to repeat a comment which I made on another thread about pedestrians and cyclists on the same trail. It was a windy, rainy day and I had become totally tangled in my poncho, to the point where progress on a steep trail through a forest had become difficult to manage. At the bottom of a hill, a large group of cyclists had stopped and pulled off the trail in a location where they could maneuver their bicycles off the trail and into the forest. I saw my chance and went up to a girl in the group to ask for her help. She saw my problem and helped me to get untangled and able to go on. I was grateful. All of that group was off the trail and not a hazard to walkers. They knew how to manage in challenging weather and terrain. I owe it to them to give credit where due.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
It could be a cultural thing, have you noticed how the Spanish at pedestrian crossings will walk across without looking - frightens me - expecting all traffic to see them & stop?
That’s a great example of how the norms of the place where you’re living dictate behavior that would be lunacy in other places. Where I live, the law is that cars must stop when pedestrians are in a zebra-crossing, but I would never dream of stepping out on a busy street with the hope that the car will stop. I will be legally right but dead or maimed. In Spain, with the same laws but different norms, cars actually do stop! I haven’t gotten so brave as to test the theory when a car is nearby, but I do frequently put one foot in the street and then wait to see if the car stops. It inevitably does. I wonder if any surveys of pilgrims on the camino in areas where cyclists are prevalent have been done to determine whether the pilgrims walking 4 abreast, with earbuds, etc etc are non-Spaniard? Do Spaniards know and follow a different set of unspoken rules? We have very little Spanish participation here, but it would be interesting to get their perspective.
 

Marc S.

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Since 2012: CF, CdN, CP, Salvador, Aragones, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakobsweg NRW, Jakibspaad.
Do Spaniards know and follow a different set of unspoken rules? We have very little Spanish participation here, but it would be interesting to get their perspective.

I am not Spanish so I can not give a Spanish perspective. But it made my wonder whether I follow some kind of set of unwritten rules myself while walking. So far I can't tell, as one often follows unwritten rules unconsciously

Personally I have never had any troubles with cyclists on the camino, never felt threatened, and hardly came across a 'rude cyclist', well at least it did not feel that way for me.

I also follow a Dutch and German camino forum and perhaps it is worth mentioning that the 'cyclists vs. walker' debate is not really an issue there, as compared to this forum. It made me wonder why.

Coming from the country where I am from, I can only tell that I am very much used to cycling in busy streets, sharing the roads with people walking (even when they are supposed to walk on the sidewalk). Also in other European countries (and I am not sure about Spain) more people are simply much more used to cycling in busy environments, for commuting, shopping, etc. Could it be that this cycling experience (and sharing busy spaces between walkers and cyclists) influences how one experiences the presence of cyclists on the camino.

(Btw, I am fully aware many tourists walking in Amsterdam may well feel threatened by my cycling behaviour.)
 

Old Bamboo

Member
Past OR future Camino
CF, Francigena, KumanoKodo,Benedetto, Iseji, Assisi, Kunisaki, Shikoku 88 (1~24), Kohechi,Dajia Mazu
In Italy on the Via Francigena there were separate routes for cycling and walking pilgrims with blue signs and a bicycle logo for the cyclists. They lead through back roads but ultimately to the same destinations. I actually got lost a time or 2 and ended up following the bike routes. An excellent idea for Spain.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I am not Spanish so I can not give a Spanish perspective. But it made my wonder whether I follow some kind of set of unwritten rules myself while walking. So far I can't tell, as one often follows unwritten rules unconsciously
I think this is a very good point. One of my general observations is that those of us from countries where we drive on the left side of the road tend to do the opposite of those that drive on the right. I suspect it has been ingrained into us to keep to the left and pass on the right when we are driving and cycling. This extends to walking as well if it is on paths, even when shared with cyclists, although we will walk facing the traffic (mostly!) on roads. When I visit Europe or the US, the opposite generally happens, reflecting their driving habits. Crowded towns and cities seem to be the exception, where people just try and find an open space ahead to move into.

I no longer cycle, but when I did I saw plenty of incidents of walkers completely unaware of my presence until the very last moments before I passed them, despite signalling to them from some distance away. And as a walker, I have been run into from behind and knocked over by an inattentive cyclist going at some speed on an asphalt path in broad daylight.

I draw the conclusion from my experience that this isn't a particular problem of the Camino, nor is it about Spain. I rather suspect that if you have been walking in your own country in places that more rigourously segregate walkers from cyclist by providing dedicated cycle paths or cycle lanes separate from walking paths, sharing the path on the Camino when it gets narrow might be quite alarming.

On this topic, I often wonder if those who are most vehement about cyclists needing to change have reflected on how they might avert the dangers they see. For a start, you are not walking on some well formed urban path, and you will need to adapt to that. Be alert and aware of what is going on around you, whether you are walking alone in quiet contemplation or engaged in entertaining conversation with others.

I don't walk with earbuds outside of towns and urban areas at home, and never used them on the Camino. My thinking is that I want to be in awe of the places where I am walking, including both the sights and the sounds. Out of towns, I want to enjoy the birdsong, even if it is battling traffic noise. Or the sounds of people working in their factories and on their farms, moving their animals along the roads or operating the wonderful array of little agricultural machines one sees in rural Spain and Portugal. And I want to enjoy the quiet of woodlands, even when they are the eucalyptus and pine plantations that I find so horrifying.

I walk alone on the Camino these days, but when I lead group walks at home, there is always a back marker who can warn those ahead that a cyclist is approaching. People in the main group can walk side-by-side and chat most of the time, only needing to move to one side to share the path when a cyclist is passing. I rarely see that practiced when I have been walking the Camino. It is more common to see groups walk two or more abreast, completely blocking the path. This might be okay if they were showing even the smallest signs of being aware of others, but generally they appear to be completely oblivious of all others who might want to pass them, both cyclists and walkers. It is not hard to have someone keeping an eye or ear open for faster walkers and cyclists if you are walking with someone else or in a group.

So if you are one of those who think that it is cyclists who need to change, let me challenge you to reflecting on your own behaviour as well, and making any changes that will go to making your walk safer and less frightening.
 
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They may be rude, but they are a product of what came before--no more and no less. Just as bad/poor soil produces a poor plant, so does a bad/poor life experience. Perhaps the key is not the rude behavior happening but how one responds to it. Responding to it negatively does not affect the rude bicyclist one iota, but does it affect the person responding negatively? What do I know, but I suspect it does. And I suspect it does not affect this person in a positive vein. At the same time, it is so hard to not react.
Life . . . wish it was more simple than it is, but what do I know?
Very Zen. It is the reaction that keeps you sufferinng.
 

T0M

Member
Past OR future Camino
France (2019)
Actually, ebikes - at least the ones that are legal in Europe (aka pedelecs) - don't go any faster than regular bicycles. Granted, you may climb more easily and negate headwinds to a certain extent, but that's it. I actually go faster on my gravel bike than on my ebike.

S - Pedelecs are not that common (approx 2% of sales in Germany) being classified as motorcycles.

Where I do agree is that it gives a false sense of confidence and gets people onto trails they shouldn't be on. On the roads, it makes no difference.
In my opinion, many of the ebikes on The Camino are not pedelec-class. The current generation of ebikes can attain 30mph.
 

morrisse

New Member
Past OR future Camino
June 2 Camino Frances
I ride the road when the path is narrow and/or crowded. I also am very curtious and announce myself and ring the bell etc and so on. I have had no issues but do get frustrated when their are 5 walkers side by side and blocking all the road even after I’ve tried to do the right thing. I am slow and I’ve had minimal issue
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
I ride the road when the path is narrow and/or crowded. I also am very curtious and announce myself and ring the bell etc and so on. I have had no issues but do get frustrated when their are 5 walkers side by side and blocking all the road even after I’ve tried to do the right thing. I am slow and I’ve had minimal issue
They are doing that because that is what pilgrims do on a foot path. They walk, they talk to each other. Nobody, I repeat nobody walks in a group and sets themselves up in precise defensive files in preparation for possible bicycles approaching from behind, and never will.
 

morrisse

New Member
Past OR future Camino
June 2 Camino Frances
They are doing that because that is what pilgrims do on a foot path. They walk, they talk to each other. Nobody, I repeat nobody walks in a group and sets themselves up in precise defensive files in preparation for possible bicycles approaching from behind, and never will.
Well I have really had no issue and whether it’s a bike or a horse we all have the right to be their w loving kindness. It’s always about the individual. There are conscious people everywhere as well as unconscious. Peace
 
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Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
I'm usually one who complains about some of the erratic cyclists on the camino, but in all fairness over the last 2 days I have been approached from the rear by 3 separate groups of cyclists who have all prewarned of their coming by bell, whistling and yelling "Buen Camino"!
Good on them!
Hopefully it becomes "a thing".
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
Well I have really had no issue and whether it’s a bike or a horse we all have the right to be their w loving kindness. It’s always about the individual. There are conscious people everywhere as well as unconscious. Peace
Nothing loving or kind about having 200+ pounds of bicycle and bicyclist come crashing into one's backside at 15 mph or so on a Camino path. Not peaceful either. ;)
 
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