03 September 2009

Least/Most Bicycle Friendly Country?

On the Transalp, one of the nice things was how courteous most of the drivers were in Germany and Austria ... and only a bit less so in Italy. When they saw a bicycle coming, they got WAY out of the way, not just assuming the cyclist would keep going in a straight line but really wanting to avoid any close proximity in case the cyclist swerved. This contrasts to Japan, where the drivers are generally polite, but the roads are narrow and there is little margin for error. And the U.S., where suburban moms in big SUVs barely notice you in mid-mobile phone conversation as they brush you over onto the edge of the road ... but the road may have a nice, wide shoulder.

At least when Lance Armstrong rides around Austin Texas with his friends, the police don't arrest him, as cyclingnews.com reports happened recently to Walter Perez of Argentina, Beijing Olympic gold medal winner in one of the Madison track events, when he joined a group ride down one of the few "rideable" streets in Buenos Aires. (Note to self: avoid extended business trip to "B.A." -- just remember Mark Sanford).

There is no video of the ride itself, but tempers were hot during the arrest.

What is the LEAST bicycle friendly place you have ridden/lived?

David L. added ... then there is THIS story from Wisconsin ... always watch before you start up when the light changes ... don't assume the car will actually stop just because there is a red light.


Manfred von Holstein said...

I don't like to brag about my home country, but you are right. When I went to Germany during Obon week to ride around my home town with my brand new road racer now kept at my parents place, it struck me how safe I felt on German streets, even national highways with 40t trucks, compared to Japan. I do not recall a single incidence where I felt I was in danger - despite the much higher speeds of cars in Germany. What a contrast to Japan where I frequently freak out at those endangering my life (those riding with me will know I don't hesitate to stop cars or trucks at the next traffic light and tell them in no uncertain terms what I think of their driving).

I owe everyone a blog about my new second bike - entry level Canyon - and whether I regret buying it, or buying my carbon bike. More on this after my next trip soon.

mob said...

I just came back home after riding to Temple university and back today. I was almost hit by a right-turning truck come from the opposite site, then forcde to stop by a truck that overtook me and pushed me into the guiderails and then a car from a side street decided to make the turn into my lane just when I was coming all of this within barely 2 minutes.

So tonight my answer woul dbe Japan.

Apart from that I haven't ridden too much in other countries, except for Germany which was OK. China was very scary, but I made perhaps 30 km on my brand new MTB in 1994, most expensive bike in town, 8.000 Yen, before it broke.
Riding on construction site roads together with 66 ton Perlini dumper trucks is not a good idea.