How to convince others cycle touring is safe?

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
ndxcc
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How to convince others cycle touring is safe?

Postby ndxcc » 15 Feb 2015, 1:09pm

If anyone has seen my other post (Rotterdam > Istanbul - Which bike?) I'm currently in the process of planning a big tour, leaving my home in Leeds and cycling to Istanbul via as many countries as it's feasible to pass through.

This trip is a little mad - but aren't all adventures supposed to be? I've no previous cycle touring or camping experience and I've not really even been on a bike for about 8 years. But for me, that's where the madness ends.

Yes it's a big challenge, however, I'm confident I can achieve it and know that it'll be one hell of a life experience. My personal concerns are only with coping with life on a bike, finding places to sleep and my directional sense which can sometimes leave a lot to be desired.

Currently my main issue is trying to convince others (especially over protective parents - only child, but I am 30 years old!) that this tour is safe and there are very limited risks. They've instead suggested another option which is to inter-rail around Europe... but how boring is that? City to city travel, not experiencing anything of a country.

Have any of you had similar issues trying to convince loved ones that large scale cycle touring and some wild camping / couchsurfing / staying with random farmers, is low risk and easily achieved in mainland Europe?

Are there any statistics out there showing how many cycle tourers there are across Europe?

My issue is not that people can stop me going, but my level of enjoyment on the tour knowing that people back home are constantly worried about my safety.
Last edited by ndxcc on 21 Feb 2015, 10:42pm, edited 1 time in total.

Psamathe
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Re: How to convince others cycle touring is safe?

Postby Psamathe » 15 Feb 2015, 1:36pm

Come up with something even more "challenging" (maybe involving cycle tour taking in Somalia, Yemen and Syria). Let everybody know your "revised plans" and endure the objections for a bit. Then "reluctantly" agree to scale back your plans to what you currently intend. And everybody will probably be very relieved.

Ian

Vorpal
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Re: How to convince others cycle touring is safe?

Postby Vorpal » 15 Feb 2015, 1:41pm

This topic has been covered a couple of times before

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=48775

And this one has some stuff about women's clothing that you may not be interested in, but also discussed dealing with parents' worry

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=85663&hilit=parents#p773560
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

fluffybunnyuk
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Re: How to convince others cycle touring is safe?

Postby fluffybunnyuk » 15 Feb 2015, 2:27pm

Its sad though , we live in a world where you cant cycle or camp outside without family or friends worrying. I talk about irrational fear but in another context, then neatly shift it across to camping...

simonhill
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Re: How to convince others cycle touring is safe?

Postby simonhill » 15 Feb 2015, 3:08pm

My first thought is to tell your parents to grow up, but that probably won't help.

I have no idea of how dangerous it is compared to any other activity, but i am sure that most of us don't think it is dangerous and to be honest Netherlands to Istanbul isn't really very far!

Personally I very rarely think about it and I regularly cycle in some less than safe places eg India, Vietnam and England. I am currently in Thailand which I think feels like a very safe country to cycle but a recent discussion on another forum revealed that there are something like 25000 (yes 25 and 3 0s) road deaths a year, compared to about 1800 in the UK.

I have no idea how to convince your parents. I never had that problem. Mine came out of the war and perceived danger in a different way. I was encouraged to do stuff.

I am sure you can find all sorts of hazards for interailing - I remember stories of people being drugged and robbed a few years ago. Very scarey!

You could collate all the people who have made such a trip and lived to tell the tale. You can tell them that it isn't really a very big trip compared to many. Show them some of the trips on crazyguy so they realise that there are actualy quite a lot of us out here hapily pedalling every day.

You can work out all sorts of strategies to convince your parents but the bottom line is that they have just got to let you go. They have got to realise how much you will get out of the trip and how it all benefit you in so many ways. If the worst happens at least you were trying to do something beyond the norm.

millikino
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Re: How to convince others cycle touring is safe?

Postby millikino » 15 Feb 2015, 3:22pm

Hey there,

I am in a similar situation, I am planning a round the world tour with my girlfriend from Reading, Berkshire to Reading, Pennsylvania heading east. My Parents have expressed similar concerns and to be honest they would rather us stay home as opposed to a round the world 2 year trip!

I think parents are always going to worry and there is not much you can do, but what I have found helpful is involve them as much as possible in planning-talking about the trip seems to have calmed them down and I have agreed to certain sensible conditions to keep them sane like regular phone calls/skype and a spare credit card if we need to get home in a hurry.

I think cycle tourist have a different view of the world and that it is not as dangerous as the news/media make out so don't let them dissuade you, enjoy yourself since you don't want to look back in thirty years regretfully.

ps.

I am making a blog on your plans/trip which we intend to depart in may so check it out
http://timmillikin.weebly.com/

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jamesgilbert
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Re: How to convince others cycle touring is safe?

Postby jamesgilbert » 15 Feb 2015, 3:58pm

Rotterdam to Istanbul is probably just as dangerous as spending the same amount of time cycling around England.

phil parker
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Re: How to convince others cycle touring is safe?

Postby phil parker » 15 Feb 2015, 5:19pm

You won't be able to convince anybody back home that it is safe; also their sentiments probably include 'missing you' as well as genuine concern for your safety. You are as likely to get knocked off your bike or mugged in London or Manchester as you are in any overseas city, but there is an intrinsic xenophobia amongst us that can heighten the fear of overseas travel. Of course, some countries are very dangerous, but not really Rotterdam to Istanbul.

If I were you, I would remain resolute in your determination to travel and try to allay fears of others by keeping regular contact and explaining to them how you are going to do this. This can even include tracking your progress by various apps; social media; blogs; or just plain old regular contact.

It won't make the depart any easier, but it will make it more manageable the further into the trip you complete!

Good luck - it sounds like a great trip!

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DaveP
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Re: How to convince others cycle touring is safe?

Postby DaveP » 15 Feb 2015, 5:58pm

I think that by the age of 30 you have to stop worrying too much about their anxieties, and they need to let you go ...
If they are really concerned there's probably no cure, but obviously you will want to minimise their anxieties. I think the best approach is probably to do what you can to show them that you are preparing sensibly, researching your route, and any specific legal requirements applying to cyclists in the countries you will pass through. And so on. Arrange a way to keep in touch (and make sure that you do so!)
Have a dip into http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/?o=Sh Look to see how others have fared. You could even consider showing some accounts to your folks - it might help them, to realise others have been before - and survived!
If you can post an outline of your route you could hope to get tips from members who have been that way.
Going a long way sounds like a bigger deal but isn't necessarily more dangerous.
How are you planning to return?
Trying to retain enough fitness to grow old disgracefully...

beardy
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Re: How to convince others cycle touring is safe?

Postby beardy » 15 Feb 2015, 6:48pm

In all my world travels I was always cheered up by the fact that I was raised in a country more dangerous than those I was visiting.

I havent been anywhere worse than here yet. You notice it as soon as you get your bike back on the English roads after being in France.

robing
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Re: How to convince others cycle touring is safe?

Postby robing » 15 Feb 2015, 8:14pm

Just show your parents some of the hundreds of youtube clips showing aggressive behaviour and assaults on cyclists in the UK, and then demonstrate the complete lack of any from abroad!

vjosullivan
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Re: How to convince others cycle touring is safe?

Postby vjosullivan » 15 Feb 2015, 9:14pm

ndxcc wrote:Currently my main issue is trying to convince others (especially over protective parents - only child, but I am 30 years old!) that this tour is safe.

Is it safe? Compared to some things, not to others. Can I convince them? Unlikely, given that you're over thirty and still trying to.

Do research. Make plans. Set dates. Go for it. Other people's confidence in you is based in you're past successes not your future plans.
E25

beardy
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Re: How to convince others cycle touring is safe?

Postby beardy » 15 Feb 2015, 9:24pm

I was quite brutally, cruel and honest with my parents and mocking of their concerns. Which as I am now the parent, I feel some what guilty about as I am having the same fears for my children. Becoming a parent does rather transform how you look at risk, the first time I went out on my motorbike after my first child was born, it dawned on me that it actually mattered (for the first time) whether or not I came back alive.

So there is something to be said for non-disclosure with parents, half truths and even outright lies. It makes their lives easier.

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Re: How to convince others cycle touring is safe?

Postby Vorpal » 15 Feb 2015, 9:35pm

My mother must have sat worrying sometimes when I was gone. I never really discussed things with her. I just told her where I was going & what I was doing. Sometimes when we were teenagers, my brother and I would just pack stuff up on our bikes and leave our mother a note that we were going camping for a few days, and off we'd go. I don't remember what we told my mother, but I think we were fairly vague about where we'd been and how far we'd gone.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

TonyR
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Re: How to convince others cycle touring is safe?

Postby TonyR » 15 Feb 2015, 9:50pm

When my daughters left on their round the world gap year it was very tough seeing them go but it would have been completely wrong to have held them back. What might help is to set your parents up with Facetime or Skype and then video call them from Internet Cafe's on a regular basis to tell them about your adventures and how well its going. Even when the girls were on the other side of the world it was like they were at home when they were on screen chatting away. After a while your parents maybe get to learn that nothing terrible is happening and that you are not that far away.

If they're young enough to still travel you could even arrange for them to fly out and meet you for a few days in some of the major cities/sights on route. They can then also bring you a change of clothing for the changing seasons/weather and take back any souvenirs you've accumulated to make room for more.