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Actually, it's pretty safe....

Old 06-19-12, 07:12 PM
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Actually, it's pretty safe....

Just wanted to share this article by a lady bicycle tourist on the topic of safety and public perceptions of what a woman should and shouldn't do(For her own safety, of course)

Myself, I'm taking a month break with family after a year of bicycle travel in the midwest and western United States. During all that time, I've never had a threatening encounter - A few creepy ones, but I've yet to feel endangered. Still, the most common question I answer is "Aren't you scared?". The most common statement I endure is, "You know how many weirdos there are around here...". I try to tell people it's really not been a problem, and no I don't spend a significant portion of my day being afraid. Usually the only response I get is "Well I think you are very brave", which signifies they're not listening or missed the whole damn point. It's upsetting how many people seem to -want- me to be afraid.

The exceptions, thankfully there are exceptions, tend to be in places with a younger population. Maybe that means that people are learning...

The writer of the above article points out the same thing I'm always telling people - Bicycle travel is no more dangerous, and perhaps less so, then home life. When I lived in a nice, middle class suburban neighborhood with my parents, our home was ransacked so badly we had to move out for two months while it was repaired. Neighboring homes where broken into, a woman a few houses down was stabbed by a stranger in her garage... These places where supposed to be safe.
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Old 06-19-12, 09:16 PM
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It's because news media sensationalism blows things out of proportion, and have turned us into a paranoid society. A hundred-fifty years or more ago, the same things could happen, especially out here in the wild west, but people did what they did for the most part without too many problems at the hands of other people.
Situational awareness, listening to that inner voice, and having a few contingency plans in place can be quite assuring.
You're right about the danger being the same (or even greater in some areas) at home, but since it is a familiar place, the sense of danger is considerably less.
Statistically speaking the most dangerous thing a person can do is get in their car and drive somewhere, yet because it's familiar and "everybody does that", nobody thinks if it as any big deal.
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Old 06-19-12, 10:58 PM
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I was a bit shocked when one of my friends told me how very, very brave I was for touring. Sweden is one of the safest places I've ever been in my entire life. Then I found she's afraid of the dark. In her eyes, I suppose sleeping in some random spot in the woods with nothing but a tiny little head lamp in case of emergencies would be brave.
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Old 06-19-12, 11:11 PM
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Yes, people mistake familiarity for safety and unfamiliarity for danger. Your "bravery" consists of doing something they have never done. I suspect it's less the bicycling, than the being alone, that shocks them. Even as a middle-aged male I get people expressing surprise that I go on extended tours on my own.
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Old 06-20-12, 11:26 AM
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Very good article, thanks for sharing.

We as human beings are extremely bad at evaluating risks. We do risky stuff daily without a thought and fear things that are pretty safe. Apparent danger and real danger are not aligned at all.

Whether touring is safer or more dangerous than staying home probably varies with the locale, but I suspect that more often than not staying home is more dangerous.
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Old 06-20-12, 11:44 AM
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I suspect that more often than not staying home is more dangerous.
I wonder about this.

When I am on tour, I am carrying virtually everything I need to survive for several days without supplies. Also, I am much more vigilant about my surroundings and actions.

At home, I am far less observant of my surroundings and much less vigilant (though I do always know if someone is walking behind me or not!). Also, I live in a big city where this is far more crime than when I am out on the road.

But, as the article says, I seem to be more fearful when I am on tour as I feel much more vulnerable then when I am at home.

All this said, any concern I have for my safety is far outweighed by the joy and satisfaction of touring by bike. I think this is what people who have never done something remove from the equation. I would never consider sky diving, as I am afraid of heights and think it is too dangerous. But, I have never done it and have no idea of the "rush" one gets from it. As a result, I makes no sense for me to express my fears about sky diving to someone who has actually done it and knows the trade-offs involved.
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Old 06-21-12, 04:31 AM
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A study within the last week saying you are more likely to be killed or injured by furniture and televisions in your own home than terrorism.
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Old 06-21-12, 08:27 AM
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Thanks for posting that article! Very cool!

I'm getting ready to do my first solo short weekend tour and first tour ever (SO PUMPED!) and I'v been shocked by how many friends and family ask me things like "Where are you guys riding?" "How long will you all be gone?" etc. And then they look at me like I'm nuts when I say "No, it's just me going. Me and my bike"... Then the offers of "well if you need anything, let me know and I can drive out" start. They don't get it.

And I get all this as a man. I can't even imagine what a woman must hear about adventuring alone.
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Old 06-21-12, 09:28 AM
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This is a good thread! I'm hoping to get into touring soon too, and it seems like I'm better off not telling people until later. As it stands, anyone I've told seems to focus entirely on the perceived problems.

With some people that seems to be how they react to pretty much anything outside of the living at home, doing shopping, and working 9-5 paradigm. It's just the way they're wired. Whatever you tell them you're going to do, they immediately come up with real (or most often) imagined problems, risks, fears, etc. They never look for solutions, or even consider the positive aspects.

When I told my mother I was thinking about doing some geocaching, the first words out of her mouth were, "But what if there's a bomb in one of the caches?"

Incredible!

If there's one thing I've learned, most people are not at all supportive if you think even a little outside the box. Shame really!
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Old 06-21-12, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
A study within the last week saying you are more likely to be killed or injured by furniture and televisions in your own home than terrorism.
Considering what I have seen on the T.V. the few times I have been around one over the past fifteen years, I think they have a point. Those things definitely pose a risk of brain damage. Little wonder the inventor wouldn't have one in his house.
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Old 06-21-12, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree
Considering what I have seen on the T.V. the few times I have been around one over the past fifteen years, I think they have a point. Those things definitely pose a risk of brain damage. Little wonder the inventor wouldn't have one in his house.
From what I've read, even the odds of dying of a lightening strike are higher than death by terrorism.
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