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  1. #1
    Drive the Bicycle.
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    Opinions of Foreign Visitors

    -- Those of you who live outside the USA, please tell us your impressions of the bicycling scene here. If you have visited, what is your opinion of the accomdations made for cyclists (bike lanes, cycling paths etc.) and what has been your experience with the bike shops here in terms of their service and product selection as compared to your home country?

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    I'm curious to hear from foreigners too.

    Koffee

  3. #3
    Senior Member jnoble123's Avatar
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    This possibly isn't exactly what you are looking for but on Bicycle Touring 101 Stephen Lord has an article about touring the west coast of the US by bicycle. Stephen is from the UK so his account is from an offshore perspective. It's quite good, interesting and informative too!

    ~Jamie N
    www.bicycletouring101.com

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    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    I have never been to the US. Judging from what I see in the Advocacy and Commuting -forums, I would imagine cycling infrastructure, traffic conditions and attitudes are more bike friendly where I live. However, sometimes the LBS prices and service described in these forums make me green with envy. Quite often, actually.

    --J
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  5. #5
    aspiring wannabe hoogie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 77Univega
    -- Those of you who live outside the USA, please tell us your impressions of the bicycling scene here. If you have visited, what is your opinion of the accomdations made for cyclists (bike lanes, cycling paths etc.) and what has been your experience with the bike shops here in terms of their service and product selection as compared to your home country?
    Last time I was in the USA was in 1998. I bought my TREK 520 while I was there, riding this and my mates MTB. It took a bit of getting used to riding on the wrong side of the road. I was largely based in Colorado Springs, which has awesome cycling facilities [paths, wide streets, etc], and I didn't find riding on the road much of a bother at all ... we did spend most of our time on the dirt though.
    All of the bikestores I went into [Col Springs, Moab]had a much better selection than here at home, and the service was pretty good.

    More here
    thought for today: "Does my ass look fast on this bike?"

  6. #6
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    By the wording of the post, I assume forum members can give impressions even though they may not have toured in the USA. My impressions come from various posts I have made over the years and from actively reading posts of other members. I have travelled to the USA by car for more than 40 years.

    My first impression is that most Americans drive their bikes around in or on their motor vehicles to the 'trail' or start/end point of a ride, perhaps they drive an SUVs or trucks. Not all that many consider a bicycle their primary transportation vehicle.

    I also feel that stealth camping is not safe in many places because of American beliefs in private property laws and the availability of guns. I have no plans to tour in the USA in the immediate future, but I am open to being convinced.

    That being said, I also believe most Americans, on an individual basis to be generous, outgoing, kind, decent and adventurous.
    Last edited by stokell; 01-04-05 at 01:21 PM.

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    I am English and did a coast to coast from Seatle to NY about 10 years ago. Generally I thought cycling conditions were quite poor - either you had a wide shoulder which was full of grit and detritus or if you went in the road, cars and trucks tried to run you back onto the shoulder (one of my companions actually got knocked over by a truck). Riding in US cities was an absolute joke as they tend to be designed around freeways. Provision for bicyclists actually trying to get from A to B were minimal.

    We found plenty of very basic (no running water, leave your $5 fee in an envelope) camp sites, which were perfect for us and American girls seemed peculiarly attracted to our accents....

    Charlie

  8. #8
    Drive the Bicycle.
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    -- The opinions of those of you who are contributing to this thread are VERY interesting. While we're at it, I would also like to hear from U.S. cyclists who have visited overseas, what comparisons can you make?

  9. #9
    Velocipedic Practitioner
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    Quote Originally Posted by 77Univega
    -- The opinions of those of you who are contributing to this thread are VERY interesting. While we're at it, I would also like to hear from U.S. cyclists who have visited overseas, what comparisons can you make?
    I found Ireland to be positively gorgeous cycling country. There are very few bicycle specific facilities in the western portion of the country where I toured, but neither are they needed. Lots of narrow lanes with low volumes of traffic whose design makes it almost impossible for anyone to drive faster than 45mph at the most. Very friendly people who all seem to have a distant relative in the States. Ireland is definitely a bicycling paradise.

    Estonia is one of my absolute favorites. Country is mostly flat and the roads are pretty good, though I did run into a few pretty long stretches of poorly maintain hard surface or even unpaved with loose sand and gravel. Some long straight stretches of highway had pretty fast moving traffic, but the volume was light most of the time. Don't recall much in the way of bike specific accommodations while I was there, but I understand there has been recent work on signing national bike routes. All in all, though, Estonia is an excellent choice for a bike tour.

    Netherlands..can't say anything about this cycling nirvana than what has already been said many times in the past. The bike rules, the people are sincerely friendly and tolerant, can't think of anything unflattering to say about The Netherlands or its people.

    Berlin in Germany...well, I like the city, but I am not too keen on their bike facilities. Much of their bikeways consists of striping on sidewalks. Personally, it looked to me like there was more motivation to get bikes out of the way of cars than to create a bike friendly atmosphere. Having said that, there are a lot of people there that use their bikes daily for transportation....much more than most places in the USA.

    Hungary is another ideal cycling destination. Not too much in the way of specific facilities (except for a few in Budapest), but the country is flat with excellent roadway network. Nearly every train I saw allowed bikes on board.
    Other forms of transportation grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. - Iris Murdoch

  10. #10
    Veni, Vidi, Vomiti SteveE's Avatar
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    Foreign visitors are OK, IMHO.
    "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ...'holy *****...what a ride!'"

  11. #11
    Drive the Bicycle.
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    "I found Ireland to be positively gorgeous cycling country."


    -- Thanks PurpleK for your report. It was a good example of what I want to learn about.

  12. #12
    Macro Geek
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    Quote Originally Posted by 77Univega
    -- The opinions of those of you who are contributing to this thread are VERY interesting. While we're at it, I would also like to hear from U.S. cyclists who have visited overseas, what comparisons can you make?
    I have cycled in many areas of Canada and the USA, including Cape Cod, western Massachusetts, the California coast, the Kootenays, the Niagara Peninsula, Prince Edward County, the areas surrounding Kingston Ontario, the Eastern Townships, the Chaudière-Appalache region, and Charlevoix.

    I have also cycled in Holland, Denmark, Frankfurt region, Bavaria, Alsace, Burgundy, central Switzerland, and northern Italy.

    Although I have enjoyed fantastic tours in Canada and the USA, there is no comparison. Touring conditions in Europe are generally superior. My theory is that bicycling is more closely integrated into mainstream culture in Europe than in North American, and consequently, Europeans “get” it, including city planners, road engineers, politicians, motorists, pedestrians, restaurateurs, hoteliers, store owners, and ordinary people going about their daily business.

    In many European countries, there are well-developed systems of bicycle routes that are almost unimaginable to travellers from North America. When I returned to Toronto after last summer’s European expedition, I was angry. How is it possible that a small country like Switzerland has made space for multiple and redundant bicycle routes, while the bicycling infrastructure in my huge yet sparsely populated country is pathetic. Also, why is it that I confidently share narrow roads with motorists in Europe, while at home, many motorists have no clue about how to share wide highways with cyclists?

    Alan

  13. #13
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    In many European countries, there are well-developed systems of bicycle routes that are almost unimaginable to travellers from North America. When I returned to Toronto after last summer’s European expedition, I was angry. How is it possible that a small country like Switzerland has made space for multiple and redundant bicycle routes, while the bicycling infrastructure in my huge yet sparsely populated country is pathetic. Also, why is it that I confidently share narrow roads with motorists in Europe, while at home, many motorists have no clue about how to share wide highways with cyclists?
    Very well said Alan. While my piece sounded like an anti-american diatribe, you have truly put your finger on the problem. Is it because we in North America (or at least Canada and the USA), have so embraced the automobile that we cannot imagine sharing the road with others?

    Wouldn't it be great if we naked streets in Canada and the USA?
    http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/Con...d=970599119419

    I'd love to hear the opinion of others on this subject.

  14. #14
    senile member
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell
    Wouldn't it be great if we naked streets in Canada and the USA?
    http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/Con...d=970599119419
    even though we have trafic lights and signs and all that, people just ignore them and accidents happen all the time. i ended up having to pay attentions to others on the road and the signs at the same time. it think it´s not a bad idea to cut down the sinages and i agree that people would slow down a bit and pay more attention to his surroundings, nobody wants to be in an accident after all.

  15. #15
    Drive the Bicycle.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schumius
    even though we have trafic lights and signs and all that, people just ignore them and accidents happen all the time.
    --Aha Schumius, please tell more about cycling in Taiwan. Do they have bike lanes there or other means to accomodate bike commuters? Have you had a chance to cycle in any other countries?

  16. #16
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    well, in some places there´re pretty good bike lanes for like 100kms or so, circling some specific sights or something, but not around the whole country. for touring i think most people would avoid the highway and just take the country roads. more pleasant that way. it´s more beautiful and quite the east than the west and there´re some really scenic roads in the mountains. there´re ridiculously few people that tour by bike, most are appalled by the idea.

    for commuting, we don´t have bike lanes in general so you´ll have to be careful on the road with cars and scooters which are often reckless and sometimes rude and unreasonable. also we normally don´t have racks to lock your bikes to like those in europe, i think they also have that in the states. so i think the infrastructure is really bad, ironically we make bikes. i checked some cycling clubs and organizations and they seem to be focused mainly on mtbikng or road racing instead of commuting and touring which is a pity in my opinion. bikes become only toys. but nevertheless lots of people commute by bikes, students mostly, which aren´t allow to ride a scooter, once they reach the age they just ditch the bike and embrace the gas eating machine, which is also bad. it´s really rare to see people commuting with bikes in my university.

    i´ve only cycled in spain, iceland, copenhagen and a small part of norway. and i think copenhagen and norway´re pretty good. iceland could get dangerous sometimes because you have to share the small 2 lane highway with all the gigantic cars flying past through, you have to stay really low especially when a big truck is coming towards you. and salamanca the city where i live in spain there´re no bike lanes so like in taiwan you just have to blend in and as to touring in spain i always did small country roads, i love the pueblos.
    Last edited by Schumius; 01-18-05 at 01:00 AM. Reason: correction

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