Is Bicycle Touring Dangerous?

There is an certain amount of risk any time you decide to venture from the safety of your own home. By participating in a bicycle tour (whether it be a short bike ride near your house or a trip that takes you to a foreign land on the other side of the world), you are going to expose yourself to several potential dangers.

Some of these dangers include:

  • Vehicle traffic and the chance that you might be involved in an accident.
  • People who wish to do you harm (robbers, perverts, etc).
  • Wild animals.
  • Pesky insects.
  • Exposure to the elements (rain, snow, heat, etc).

These dangers, however, are usually easy to avoid with proper education, planning and preparation.

In fact, these external dangers are minimal in comparison to the mental challenges that you, as a long-distance cyclist, will need to overcome in order to complete your two-wheeled adventure.

While car traffic, wild animals, and axe-murders are the things we, as human beings, tend to fear the most, the true dangers of bicycle touring are the mental blocks that we carry around with us all the time.

These mental blocks include, for example:

  • Not being able to mentally handle the demands of riding a bicycle for days on end.
  • The fear of the unknown.
  • The fear of being alone.
  • The fear of other people.
  • Not knowing how to manage your time.
  • Not knowing how to manage your money.

The question, therefore, shouldn’t be, “Is bicycle touring dangerous?” But instead, “Is bicycle touring any more dangerous than taking a short spin by bike around your home city?”

In most cases, the answer to that question is “no.”

Bicycle touring (whether it be in your home country or in a nation on the other side of the world) is a relatively safe means of travel. And like so may other things in life, your safety when traveling by bike is going to depend upon:

  • Where exactly you choose to go.
  • The time of year in which you plan to travel.
  • Your ability to interact with other people.
  • Whether you decide to travel alone or with others.
  • Your capabilities as a cyclist.
  • Your navigational skills (or lack thereof).
  • How well you spend your time and money.
  • Your mental ability to solve problems and overcome challenges.
  • And, of course, simple common sense.

Outside of the inherent pain that comes with riding a bicycle over long distances, your safety as a bicycle traveler is largely up to you. And for those few potential dangers that exist outside yourself (like traffic, scary people, wild animals, and bad weather), there are things you can do, steps you can take, and lessons you can learn, that will enable you to tackle any of these obstacles should you encounter them on your travels.

Photo by Paul Krueger


0 thoughts on “Is Bicycle Touring Dangerous?

  1. Andy Solaini says:

    I think you could say that the mental “dangers” depend on if it’s your first tour or not. My first tour I was worried about if I could cope with the distances and fitness needed. After day one I was not sure that I could as we had really bad headwinds. After a couple of days I realised that I could cope and then that worry almost went away over night.

  2. Brandon Carlson says:

    Now I’m going on my first tour in may from st. Charles Missouri to Colorado Springs. Now the thing I’m most scared of is weather. I’m not sure what I would do if I got caught out in the middle of nowhere in Kansas and thee was a tornado warning or a thunderstorm. I’m not afraid if people and animals are fine as long as you leave them alone.

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      If you get caught in a major storm (like a massive thunderstorm or tornado), you do whatever you can to get out of the area, and that would probably mean hitching a ride with someone passing by who had a truck or car big enough to carry you and your bicycle out of the area.

      For smaller weather problems (like rain, hail, etc), you can simply pull over under a tree or hide under the rain tarp from your tent while the storm passes and then continue cycling on your way once the worst of the storm is over.

  3. Brandon Carlson says:

    Thank you
    I’ve heard people in Kansas are nice so I should be able to get a ride out of a storm if a come across one.

  4. Stefan Breton says:

    Good article. Bike touring is no more dangerous than regular biking. And it’s certainly safer than motorbiking, skiing, surfing or parachute jumping. I have had my share of injuries…. many scars, missing teeth, got hit by cars, etc. Mind you, I’ve spent my whole life on bikes (I even biked as a living). As for bike touring, it’s the most liberating thing I’ve done in my life. The freedom is incredible.

    Safety should be a concern: helmet and lights are a must. Also choosing a safer route. Good planning is also a must: visas, climates as well as water availability.

    I wish I had started touring very early on, like at 20. It’s simply the best!

  5. keith klein says:

    Hey Brandon, I’m planning the same trip almost. From St. Charles to Denver. I would like to hear how it went.

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