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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 05-28-08, 10:03 AM   #1
keepthepeace
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Hitchhiking Vs Touring, Saftey

Alright so i got interested in touring becuase well, first of all i thought it would be pretty fun and i like the idea of a nice slow pace. But i also thought it would be safer than hitchhiking, which i have done as well without any problems. However, i have come across at least three mentions of deaths while touring, on this site. I am also a member of a hitchhiking website, and have been for about two years and never come across a hitchhiking death (0n that forum). I had also mentioned touring to my neighbor (hes older, and bikes a lot, no touring though), and his reaction was that touring was probably more dangerous than hitchhiking. So i am wondering what you guys think? Which one is more risky? I have seen a few posts mentioning hitchhiking on here so i know a few of us have some experience. I think hitchhiking may seem more dangerous just becuase of the thought that your getting into a car with a stranger, and a death that comes like that just seems so horrible...
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Old 05-28-08, 10:33 AM   #2
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I'd think touring would be more dangerous -but (hey it's a forum on the web) can't prove it. I'm assuming:

i. there are psychopathic killers out there and people intent on murdering hitchhikers, however they are actually few and far between.

ii. there are psychopathic killers out there and people intent on murdering touring cyclists, however they are actually few and far between.

iii. there are many, many more people who don't pay attention driving, and will kill other road users without necessarily malicious intent.

iv. hitchhiking will expose you more to i. than cyclists exposed to ii., but even so, it's negligible.

v. hitchhiking will expose you less to iii., whereas cycling will expose you almost all the time and with greater frequency to passing careless drivers.

I'm guessing that the vast majority of cyclists killed touring are killed without malicious intent -but rather accidentally or through negligence. However, I'd think the probability of getting killed whether you be a hitchhiker or cyclist is really pretty small, even more so if you are careful and follow good practices.

Though I'd not like to hitchhike with strangers (got to admit there was a 20/20/Dateline/60 Minutes show where a reporter hitchhiked across the USA, and yes, he did get picked up by a guy who made him really nervous so that put me off!) I'm sure it's something relatively safe to do -more safe than cycle touring probably.
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Old 05-28-08, 11:12 AM   #3
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Everybody dies. How do you want to live?
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Old 05-28-08, 11:19 AM   #4
Gordon P
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Having hitchhiked and cycle-toured extensively I would say that I met more crazy people while hitchhiking.
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Old 05-28-08, 11:20 AM   #5
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From the police safety lectures I've been to, it is not the hitchhikers who are at risk as much as the people who pick them up. The VA state police ran the records on over a thousand hitchhikers and found that about a quarter of them were wanted for something. From vagrancy on up to an escaped murderer. Hitchhiking in pairs may be safer. Even if only one person is picked up at least the one left could have recorded plate #, car make and model, and driver description.

OT: Any of you hitchers tried jumping on trains?
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Old 05-28-08, 12:05 PM   #6
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Everybody dies. How do you want to live?
Jackpot.
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Old 05-28-08, 12:08 PM   #7
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Having hitchhiked and cycle-toured extensively I would say that I met more crazy people while hitchhiking.
+1000!!! I started Bike Touring to replace hitchhiking....Hitchhiking is WAAAAAAAAY more dangerous than Biking!!!
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Old 05-28-08, 01:02 PM   #8
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+1000!!! I started Bike Touring to replace hitchhiking....Hitchhiking is WAAAAAAAAY more dangerous than Biking!!!
It also depends which country you are hitchhiking in, I found that when I hitchhiked around America 1 out of every 3 rides I felt that I was at risk. I assume that this is not a reflection of the American population in general and concluded that only crazy-Americans pick up hitchhikers.
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Old 05-28-08, 04:49 PM   #9
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It also depends which country you are hitchhiking in, I found that when I hitchhiked around America 1 out of every 3 rides I felt that I was at risk. I assume that this is not a reflection of the American population in general and concluded that only crazy-Americans pick up hitchhikers.
So True!
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Old 05-28-08, 06:55 PM   #10
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OT: Any of you hitchers tried jumping on trains?
Yeah i have. THAT is an experience.


VALYGRL: I really wasn't trying to figure out if touring or hitchhiking was an acceptable risk, just which was more dangerous. Id say i live pretty well...



+1000!!! I started Bike Touring to replace hitchhiking....Hitchhiking is WAAAAAAAAY more dangerous than Biking!!!
It also depends which country you are hitchhiking in, I found that when I hitchhiked around America 1 out of every 3 rides I felt that I was at risk. I assume that this is not a reflection of the American population in general and concluded that only crazy-Americans pick up hitchhikers.
05-28-08 11:08 AM
The Figment
Originally Posted by Gordon P View Post
Having hitchhiked and cycle-toured extensively I would say that I met more crazy people while hitchhiking.
+1000!!! I started Bike Touring to replace hitchhiking....Hitchhiking is WAAAAAAAAY more dangerous than Biking!!!


To gordon P and the figment. Ive really had only good experiences while hitchhiking. One time i was picked up and asked if i would let the guy suck me off. But it was really only creepy, once i just made it clear that it wasnt happening he pulled over and let me out. I did have my hand on my knife though. But i do think i agree with nigey. Its true thet you proabably would meet more creepy guys hitchhiking, and would be in a confined space with them (in which they would have a decent amount of control), however hitchiking your really not at the mercy of cars flying at you from behind the whole time.
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Old 05-28-08, 07:42 PM   #11
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I have to admit that some of the best captive conversations I have ever had was while hitching rides. Especially at night when the driver is tired and crossing a continent going to who know where. I have memories of great conversations about travel, music, hometowns, long roads, work, relationships, family, friends, parties and what I now refer to as the confessional - all to end with the sudden “hey I turn here so take care”.

But I do agree that I have met mostly great honest and caring people who offered me food, hospitality, hotel rooms, joints, beer, wine, brandy, cigars, use of a cottage, money, took me to parties, gave good advice, abed in their home, campfires, midnight swims, joyrides, tourist information, campsites, offers of sex, tea and cookies, work and I once had two drunk guys drive me all the way to the front door of my destination!

Gordon p
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Old 05-28-08, 07:50 PM   #12
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I've never been harassed by the police for riding a bicycle in my life. But while I was hiking along the Palmetto Trail in SC, there was a side path to a rest stop at a interstate, with a gate. While I was just sitting at the rest stop with my backpacking gear drinking a soda, I get questioned by a cop who thought I was hitchhiking. He told me what I was doing was illegal until I showed him I was actually hiking and my car was located about 5 miles away at the trailhead. The cop never knew the trail went right by the rest stop. He probably was doing his job of keeping hitchhikers off the interstate.
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Old 05-28-08, 07:58 PM   #13
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Considering I have a love-hate relationship with the police and I deal with them on a daily basis with my social work job. I’ve had only good experiences with them while hitching. Yeah I remember one cop who was kind enough to drop me off in nice scenic spot the middle a desert in Utah or was that in New Mexico.
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Old 05-28-08, 08:10 PM   #14
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I think my biggest problems while hitchiking extensively back in my Kerouac-inspired youth was interactions with the Local Law enforcement!

I even crossed the country and back barefooted one summer....

yeah, hitchiking is 'risky' if you think that way, but you can turn down any ride that makes you uneasy. I think I was lucky, i wound up with lots of great experiences similar to GordonP, several jobs including working a couple of years at an alpine lodge for someone who turned out to be a brilliant mentor to me.

Hitchiking for me also led to Lots of solitary down time in the middle of nowhere, walking long miles in unfriendly rural counties, sleeping in ditches. I developed an intimate knowledge of poverty, a genuine humbleness and awareness of ones' frailities, a grounding and empathy towards the less fortunate of the world, strong people reading skills, and the liberating effects of having nothing more than the pack on ones' back to hold you in place.

hitching places an individual into a position in the passenger seat of sometimes being a listener, a talker, a bull****ter, a navigator, a confidante, a unwitting cohort in illegal activities.. I remember one morning in Grand Junction, driving a fella's pickup truck around for him as he hid low on the passenger seat, looking for his wife..in the midst of a domestic dispute...

Having extensively bike toured since my youth as well, i've found bike touring contains more low grade worry about safety (ie the traffic), lots more alone time and the ability to develop a much greater sense of place as you move slowly across the landscape. Not as much good camaradrie or unplanned adventures while solo bike touring, just forks in the road.... some good fellow bike tourist talk, but not like while hitchiking.

I say, DO BOTH! keep your wits about you, and live life. the biggest regrets as you age are the things you didn't do while younger....

I pine for the vagabond days of my youth, I'm strongly considering a long term bike trip to nowhere, if my broken hips allow it...

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Old 05-28-08, 08:22 PM   #15
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Yep, my experiences with cops while hitchhiking have been pretty good. Im sure it helps that i am young. One cop gave us a ride to a better on ramp and one took us from an area where it was illegal (which is why he pulled over), to a safe place and bought us subway! Nice.

I think i will do both! For now though im really looking forward to my first bike tour. Hopefully it will be good.

Go for that bike trip to nowhere!!! except i dont know about those broken hips... are you serious?
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Old 05-28-08, 08:34 PM   #16
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things happen as you age and bike a lot, to some of us anyway....

go for it, dude! ENJOY the open road anyway you traverse it!
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Old 05-28-08, 09:02 PM   #17
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things happen as you age and bike a lot, to some of us anyway....

go for it, dude! ENJOY the open road anyway you traverse it!

Gahh!! i want to!! Hitchhiking though.. im kinda on the small side... i dont know if that should hold me back. Thats actually been bothering me a bit. But i just remember how amazing it felt hitchhiking home from AZ by myself, OH the freedom! Bah! But ill definitely find a way to enjoy that road, be it by hitchhiking, biking or even walking!

I really am impressed by peoples comments here. I was kind of expecting people to be bashing hitchhiking on this website. Sorry i underestimated you guys! You tourers seem like good people.
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Old 05-30-08, 10:44 AM   #18
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Touring...

Over the past 10 years I've hitched, jumped trains, and biked to get around. I just got fed up with hitching after a couple of negative experiences (getting stuck around cities/shady places, 1000's of SUVs driving by with one person and no picking you up, etc.). Train hopping is fun, but there is also the element along with hitching of shadyness and illegality. If your trying to get somewhere quickly forget train hopping. About the only kind of "hitching" I would do any more would be going to truck stops and finding truckers that are going a long way in my direction. Cycling is great because I feel way more in control of my destination. It is also easier to find a nice place to spend the night, and people tend to respect you more in my experience.

Good luck,
Travis
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Old 05-30-08, 11:15 AM   #19
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However, i have come across at least three mentions of deaths while touring, on this site.
It might be helpful to see the references to these. A summary that included the basic circumstances and the country/state/location where the event supposedly happened.

While touring, I think you are much, much more likely to die in an accident involving a car. If you think that this risk is acceptable, I would not worry about the other risk (certainly, be careful).
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Old 05-30-08, 11:24 AM   #20
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It might be helpful to see the references to these. A summary that included the basic circumstances and the country/state/location where the event supposedly happened.
+1
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While touring, I think you are much, much more likely to die in an accident involving a car. If you think that this risk is acceptable, I would not worry about the other risk (certainly, be careful).
Having done both, I suspect that this statement is pretty true for both activities. Perhaps less so for hitching, but probably not as much as you would think.

I will qualify this by saying that while I have hitchhiked thousands of miles it was a long time ago.
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