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  1. #1
    What, me worry? Telly's Avatar
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    Idiot cyclists... a growing movement

    Hello everyone,

    Because of the financial crisis and the cost of gas reaching new record highs, cycling has gained enormous popularity here in Greece in the past year. Just one year ago, there were only two bicycle shops near my suburb; fast-forward to today and there are more than six new shops which have popped-up nearly overnight!

    Everywhere you look, there are cyclist of all ages, and riding all types of bikes, from department store bikes (aka Walmart) to high-end top of the line models costing thousands of Euros. Along with this wide range of bikes, are their riders; everyday people commuting to work or daily shopping in plain clothes, to riders who look like they're in the Tour de France or Giro Italia!

    Unfortunately most riders have one thing in common... their total lack of even the basics of road safety. Lane-splitting, running red lights, riding backwards onto incoming traffic, weaving between lanes for no apparent reason and the worst of all... wearing dark clothes with no lights or reflectors at night!

    Driving in Greece is a dangerous experience; if you know someone who has visited Greece, just ask them! In the past couple of years, law enforcement on the road has nearly ceased to exist because of cut-backs and strikes, and drivers have taken full advantage of this and regularly cause serious traffic violations. Also because of the state of the economy, people are frustrated and road-rage is evident everywhere... add bad cyclist to this mess and what you have is absolute chaos.

    Just this evening, I was riding on a particularly dangerous stretch of road, a two-lane per direction boulevard where the lanes have been shrunk in width to accommodate a tram line for the Olympics back in 2004. Because of a dip in the road, the oncoming cars headlights were partially blinding me, and I just barely noticed a dark figure some 20 yards in front of me on an old 10-speed weaving about in the lane. After letting some of the traffic pass me, I reached the cyclist and politely asked him why he didn't have any lights on the bike, and why wasn't he afraid of getting hit by a car or bus. The answer I received was to "mind my own business", "stop harassing him" and if I didn't like it to "take the bus instead"!

    I've read a lot of post here at BF about encounters with cars, pedestrians and other cyclists, but are things this bad in other countries as well? My commute is around 15 km both ways in a urban environment, and although I do see cyclists that are shining examples of how we should all be, they are less than 10% of the majority.

    Sorry for such a long post, and if you've read it so far, thanks for reading this and letting me let off some steam!


    ... a U.S. ex-pat living and surviving in Athens!
    Last edited by Telly; 11-16-11 at 04:26 PM.

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    I have seen that all over the world even in places that I wouldn't expect it. In Columbia the bicycle and road traffic did not appear to follow any type of order. I am used to vessel separation schemes on the water, Columbia and Germany's separation schemes were chaos, there were multiple near vessel collisions a nightmare for any mariner. The type of cycling you describe for me seems to be just part of the overseas experience.

  3. #3
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Telly View Post
    .....I've read a lot of post here at BF about encounters with cars, pedestrians and other cyclists, but are things this bad in other countries as well? ......
    Yes. I've been to a few countries in Europe, Africa and Asia.
    It's no different compared to North America. Some bikers
    follow what's prudent, some don't. Same with drivers. Maybe
    one day everywhere will be like Holland


  4. #4
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Telly View Post
    ... to high-end top of the line models costing thousands of Euros.
    Which comes to about $20 USD these days...
    Don't believe everything you think.

  5. #5
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    Wow, you mention that the shining example cyclists are "less than 10%". If that means something like 5% then you are in a city with uniquely law-abiding cyclists, at least relative to my experience. It appears to me that most folks ride like they drive, which means that very few cyclists obey any law they find inconvenient. I prefer folks being asshats on bikes rather than asshats in cars; they're easier to avoid and the consequences of impact are much less.

  6. #6
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Telly View Post
    Hello everyone,

    Because of the financial crisis and the cost of gas reaching new record highs, cycling has gained enormous popularity here in Greece in the past year. Just one year ago, there were only two bicycle shops near my suburb; fast-forward to today and there are more than six new shops which have popped-up nearly overnight!

    Everywhere you look, there are cyclist of all ages, and riding all types of bikes, from department store bikes (aka Walmart) to high-end top of the line models costing thousands of Euros. Along with this wide range of bikes, are their riders; everyday people commuting to work or daily shopping in plain clothes, to riders who look like they're in the Tour de France or Giro Italia!

    Unfortunately most riders have one thing in common... their total lack of even the basics of road safety. Lane-splitting, running red lights, riding backwards onto incoming traffic, weaving between lanes for no apparent reason and the worst of all... wearing dark clothes with no lights or reflectors at night!

    Driving in Greece is a dangerous experience; if you know someone who has visited Greece, just ask them! In the past couple of years, law enforcement on the road has nearly ceased to exist because of cut-backs and strikes, and drivers have taken full advantage of this and regularly cause serious traffic violations. Also because of the state of the economy, people are frustrated and road-rage is evident everywhere... add bad cyclist to this mess and what you have is absolute chaos.

    Just this evening, I was riding on a particularly dangerous stretch of road, a two-lane per direction boulevard where the lanes have been shrunk in width to accommodate a tram line for the Olympics back in 2004. Because of a dip in the road, the oncoming cars headlights were partially blinding me, and I just barely noticed a dark figure some 20 yards in front of me on an old 10-speed weaving about in the lane. After letting some of the traffic pass me, I reached the cyclist and politely asked him why he didn't have any lights on the bike, and why wasn't he afraid of getting hit by a car or bus. The answer I received was to "mind my own business", "stop harassing him" and if I didn't like it to "take the bus instead"!

    I've read a lot of post here at BF about encounters with cars, pedestrians and other cyclists, but are things this bad in other countries as well? My commute is around 15 km both ways in a urban environment, and although I do see cyclists that are shining examples of how we should all be, they are less than 10% of the majority.

    Sorry for such a long post, and if you've read it so far, thanks for reading this and letting me let off some steam!


    ... a U.S. ex-pat living and surviving in Athens!
    I almost understand why you are an ex-pat, at least where cycling is concerned. You have obviously discovered the same problems in Greece, just like they exist in any metropolis and/or suburbia of a modernized country. Unless one were to live in Siberia, Greenland, Canada and/or, the U.S. state of Alaska where the temps can get frigid.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    very few cyclists obey any law they find inconvenient.
    I knew a cyclist who used Napster.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  8. #8
    What, me worry? Telly's Avatar
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    What shocks me is that as human beings, we've got a built-in "law of preservation" which coupled with common sense (I know this is a whole new topic!), helps us protect ourselves from danger. Yet everyday I see people riding bikes (and motorcycles/mopeds - another growing movement) without a hint of hesitation under the worst possible conditions... with total lack of the knowledge of the outcome of their actions. Mind you, I've done some crazy things in my life, and have come close to the edge on a number of occasions, but cyclist here are riding as one would bungee jump off a bridge, and instead of having the rope tied to their feet, they have a noose around their neck... it's not a matter of IF they'll be in a serious accident, but WHEN, and I have to admit that some of the close calls I've seen, their damn lucky too!

    If I can, I'll attach a camera for all my commutes next week, and upload the raw footage... maybe it could be used for educating cyclists.


    BTW Chris, I'm an ex-pat because my family moved here when I was young; although you shouldn't confuse this post as a negative comment towards this country. There are ALOT of problems here with deep roots and quite a few things being heard around Europe and the world about Greece are true, but under the right conditions this country has the potential to rise above the problems, and if the people are given the right incentives, to change their ways and become very productive.
    Last edited by Telly; 11-16-11 at 11:46 PM.

  9. #9
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    Telly, Suppose riding a bike well has a one in a million chance of a fatal outcome. Suppose someone riding poorly makes it a thousand times as dangerous. That poor rider could ride for years and not have a problem. Therefore, he/she "learns" by experience that what he/she is doing is safe enough. That's pretty normal, if stupid, human behavior. It may well be a factor in drunk driving and other dangerous behaviors that don't have immediate bad consequences but just increase one's odds of bad outcomes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    Which comes to about $20 USD these days...
    Not quite yet, but in a few weeks...

  11. #11
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    WEll, THAT sounds like business as usual, except people are not riding 'scooters' they are now riding 'bicycles'.

    I'm surprised the OP expects orderly bicycling in Athens!

    Quote Originally Posted by OP
    Driving in Greece is a dangerous experience; if you know someone who has visited Greece, just ask them! In the past couple of years, law enforcement on the road has nearly ceased to exist because of cut-backs and strikes, and drivers have taken full advantage of this and regularly cause serious traffic violations.
    Sounds good, an explosion of bike culture in Athens is bound to be a positive on parking, air pollution, congestion.....kudos to the Athens public for throwing their legs over a bicycle. Bikes are proletariat tools of transportation.

    a 21st century truism, and proven in the last century too.... when times get tough, people start riding.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  12. #12
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Cycling in NYC...more like this: (it starts getting interesting about a minute in...)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZrL6QZPHjY
    Last edited by Looigi; 11-17-11 at 02:39 PM.

  13. #13
    What, me worry? Telly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    Cycling in NYC...more like this: (it starts getting interesting about a minute in...)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZrL6QZPHjY

    ... now take the above video, switch the bikes with mopeds/motorcycles, add about 60% more potholes/sunken manhole covers/etc, shuffle the cars around so they're not in lanes ... AND it's ATHENS at rush hour! lol

    Now, let's do it Athens Style: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uc9_8Lz3ins

    and now some country driving!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaPzy...eature=related
    pt2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8BNF...eature=related
    pt3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RJpE...eature=related


    and I'll end it with some cycling in central Athens: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVlWL...eature=related
    Last edited by Telly; 11-17-11 at 03:39 PM.

  14. #14
    incazzare. lostarchitect's Avatar
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    Sounds like the cyclists and drivers in Greece are all insane. At least they have each other.
    1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson), 1973 Wes Mason, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter

  15. #15
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Perhaps OT, but "lane sharing" (AKA lane splitting) on motorcycles is permitted in CA. You can ride between the lanes of slow moving traffic and also zip up to the the head of the line between two lanes of traffic stopped at stop lights or backed up at stop signs. I rode there for years and I like it! Really sux not being able to do that elsewhere in the US.

  16. #16
    RIP Sonny RaleighSport's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    Perhaps OT, but "lane sharing" (AKA lane splitting) on motorcycles is permitted in CA. You can ride between the lanes of slow moving traffic and also zip up to the the head of the line between two lanes of traffic stopped at stop lights or backed up at stop signs. I rode there for years and I like it! Really sux not being able to do that elsewhere in the US.
    Then you get the idiots who think lane splitting means you can take a right turn lane, get in the bike lane on your motorcycle and go straight through the intersection I almost took one of these jokers out the other day as I was turning onto the freeway, he pulled right into the righthand turn lane to go straight like that.
    "Seriously is what I want to be, so I put on spandex and show off my gear, my junk, my thing, yes my ding-a-ling."

  17. #17
    What, me worry? Telly's Avatar
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    Although not my finest hour, I did take out a girl riding a moped a few days ago. I was waiting at a stop light which was turning green, and she saw me and must of thought that a fat man on a trekking bike probably accelerates like the Titanic and flew the red light on her side. We reached the middle of the intersection almost at the same time, she panicked, turned the tiny wheels on the moped and spilled over. Luckily she wasn't hurt, just a scrape on her elbow... it could have been worse since her helmet was hanging off the handlebars (another fashionable thing!). Cute too, but definitely not too bright.

  18. #18
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    Taser him next time he has a smart azz comment like that.

  19. #19
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Telly View Post
    BTW Chris, I'm an ex-pat because my family moved here when I was young; although you shouldn't confuse this post as a negative comment towards this country. There are ALOT of problems here with deep roots and quite a few things being heard around Europe and the world about Greece are true, but under the right conditions this country has the potential to rise above the problems, and if the people are given the right incentives, to change their ways and become very productive.
    I am not in any way confusing it as a slam on the country of Greece. I was just saying that, the biking conditions you are experiencing in Greece(Athens I presume) are not unique. Unless a city is bike-friendly, it will be just like what you described. When I lived in the mid-size city of Duluth(Minn.) several years ago, on Lake Superior, they had a lot of problems with the roads too. When I pressed the newly elected mayor about it, he made the standard excuse as the climate being the problem.

    So I am am not slamming Greece, just saying that the biking conditions you describe, are not unique to Greece.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Telly View Post
    Hello everyone,

    Because of the financial crisis and the cost of gas reaching new record highs, cycling has gained enormous popularity here in Greece in the past year. Just one year ago, there were only two bicycle shops near my suburb; fast-forward to today and there are more than six new shops which have popped-up nearly overnight!

    Everywhere you look, there are cyclist of all ages, and riding all types of bikes, from department store bikes (aka Walmart) to high-end top of the line models costing thousands of Euros. Along with this wide range of bikes, are their riders; everyday people commuting to work or daily shopping in plain clothes, to riders who look like they're in the Tour de France or Giro Italia!

    Unfortunately most riders have one thing in common... their total lack of even the basics of road safety. Lane-splitting, running red lights, riding backwards onto incoming traffic, weaving between lanes for no apparent reason and the worst of all... wearing dark clothes with no lights or reflectors at night!

    Driving in Greece is a dangerous experience; if you know someone who has visited Greece, just ask them! In the past couple of years, law enforcement on the road has nearly ceased to exist because of cut-backs and strikes, and drivers have taken full advantage of this and regularly cause serious traffic violations. Also because of the state of the economy, people are frustrated and road-rage is evident everywhere... add bad cyclist to this mess and what you have is absolute chaos.

    Just this evening, I was riding on a particularly dangerous stretch of road, a two-lane per direction boulevard where the lanes have been shrunk in width to accommodate a tram line for the Olympics back in 2004. Because of a dip in the road, the oncoming cars headlights were partially blinding me, and I just barely noticed a dark figure some 20 yards in front of me on an old 10-speed weaving about in the lane. After letting some of the traffic pass me, I reached the cyclist and politely asked him why he didn't have any lights on the bike, and why wasn't he afraid of getting hit by a car or bus. The answer I received was to "mind my own business", "stop harassing him" and if I didn't like it to "take the bus instead"!

    I've read a lot of post here at BF about encounters with cars, pedestrians and other cyclists, but are things this bad in other countries as well? My commute is around 15 km both ways in a urban environment, and although I do see cyclists that are shining examples of how we should all be, they are less than 10% of the majority.

    Sorry for such a long post, and if you've read it so far, thanks for reading this and letting me let off some steam!


    ... a U.S. ex-pat living and surviving in Athens!
    Sadly, I, like many others here see WAY TOO many ninja's and "semi-"ninja's on the road. I would describe a "semi-"ninja as a cyclists who fits the description of the typical ninja except for the fact that they do have reflector's on their bike. But that is all.

    Like you, I as well as everyone else here would like to know what the bloody hell they are thinking. And even if they (obviously) don't care about their own lives. Don't they at least give a damn about their loved ones, and how their death will effect them?
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  21. #21
    What, me worry? Telly's Avatar
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    I can't really believe that every one of the salmon/ninja(and semi-ninja) cyclist are suicidal. Maybe watching too many movies and tv series makes them (and us) believe that they can get up, dust themselves off and walk away from an accident as if nothing ever happened. I guess situational awareness doesn't hold true to everyone!

    LL&P! (there's a trekkie in all of us!)

  22. #22
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Telly View Post
    I can't really believe that every one of the salmon/ninja(and semi-ninja) cyclist are suicidal. Maybe watching too many movies and tv series makes them (and us) believe that they can get up, dust themselves off and walk away from an accident as if nothing ever happened. I guess situational awareness doesn't hold true to everyone!

    LL&P! (there's a trekkie in all of us!)
    Maybe not intently suicidal, but almost definitely moronically suicidal.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Telly View Post
    I can't really believe that every one of the salmon/ninja(and semi-ninja) cyclist are suicidal. Maybe watching too many movies and tv series makes them (and us) believe that they can get up, dust themselves off and walk away from an accident as if nothing ever happened. I guess situational awareness doesn't hold true to everyone!

    LL&P! (there's a trekkie in all of us!)
    That may be, and if it is the case then they need to watch the news more then the movies and TV to see the truth of what happens when they get hit by a car, or even another cyclist.

    True, and as an "old" poster once said. Just about everything that one needs to know can be learned from Star Trek.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Digital_Cowboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris516 View Post
    Maybe not intently suicidal, but almost definitely moronically suicidal.
    True, very true. One does have to question their "logic." I was talking with a gal the other day who until I pointed out that the speeds of a car and bike are added when/if she get's hit while riding on the wrong side of the road still thought that riding on the wrong side of the road was a "good idea." Once she learned that her 20MPH and the cars 40MPH equaled 60MPH at the point of impact she was "sobered up" as it were to the reality of why it isn't a good idea to ride against traffic.
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  25. #25
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
    True, very true. One does have to question their "logic." I was talking with a gal the other day who until I pointed out that the speeds of a car and bike are added when/if she get's hit while riding on the wrong side of the road still thought that riding on the wrong side of the road was a "good idea." Once she learned that her 20MPH and the cars 40MPH equaled 60MPH at the point of impact she was "sobered up" as it were to the reality of why it isn't a good idea to ride against traffic.
    You got some common sense in that cyclist's head.

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