Thursday, 14 August 2014

Europe's Most Dangerous Roads for Cyclists

I came across an interesting report this morning. It provides statistics for European bicycle-based death rates. Oh, happy day.

Don't worry, I'm not a monster. I'd wanted to write about Europe's most dangerous roads for cyclists. From my gut feeling, having cycled throughout most of Europe, the countries that felt scariest to me were Romania, Ukraine, Russia and the UK, the first three because of terrible roads and bad driving, and the latter because there are just too many people in a small space and the roads are badly designed for cyclists (yes, I know they aren't designed for cyclists at all). Anyway, I wanted to put together something a little more objective.

The best road in Ukraine.

Despite the report describing how many people died on the roads, it missed context. The death statistics mean nothing without bicycle usage data. So I had to go elsewhere for that. In the end I divided the percentage-of-road-deaths-that-were-cyclists from the first document by the percentage-of-people-for-whom-cycling-is-the-main-mode-of-transport from the second. (It would have been better to divide by the total number of kilometres cycled but I don't have that.) The result gives the Danger Level, the higher the number, the more dangerous the country is for cyclists. So – ta-daaah! – I present to you...

The Cyclist's Top Ten Most Dangerous European Countries 

(Danger Level in brackets)

1. Portugal (2.15)
2. United Kingdom (1.43)
3. Czech Republic (1.37)
4. Romania (1.26)
=5. Ireland (1.2)
=5. Italy (1.2)
7. France (1.1)
8. Spain (1.0)
9. Slovakia (0.92)
10. Slovenia (0.90)

(I also had data for Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Sweden.)

Both documents give information for Poland and Finland but both countries' bike usage is listed as 0%, which is unlikely for Poland and definitely not true of Finland – they have a well-developed cycle path network – and so maybe the source data is dodgy. I didn't see anyone else cycling in Poland and so if we give Poland a low percentage usage but higher than zero – you can't divide by zero – then Poland leaps to the top of the Danger List. From what I've read on cycling forums, quite a few would agree with that. Congratulations, Poland!

But at least my hunch about the UK seems right, which, as a Briton, is no consolation. Get on your bikes and cycle to mainland Europe. Almost everywhere else is safer.

The European death document also tells us the most dangerous day of the week to cycle. It's Saturday in Slovenia, Tuesday in Greece and Monday in France. But in Denmark, the Netherlands, Romania and the UK, as well as overall in Europe, the day to stay indoors is Friday. So, it's maybe better to sleep at your desk on Thursday night and cycle home again on Saturday. Or just stay at home and plan your next cycle tour.

Safe pedalling,

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Europe's Top 46 Touring Destinations

To kick off this reworked blog, I figured I'd write something to which I could add a sexy clickbait title, like "The 7 Most Delicious Ways To Cook Your Cat" or "The World's 13 Largest Penises (You Won't Believe Number 4. I Was Shocked!)" - y'know, that kind of nonsense.

Usually, these types of article don't provide any justification for their ordering, but I will. There's a very popular website called Crazy Guy On A Bike, where nearly 10,000 cycle touring blogs are collected. If you type something into its search engine, you get told how many of its pages contain that word. So I figured that by typing in the countries of Europe, it would provide a measure of their popularity.

Now, I'm aware that this is slightly flawed. For example, if someone cycling through Grimsby mentions a particularly lovely turkey sandwich then obviously Turkey scores an extra point. Likewise, if someone in Scunthorpe waxes lyrical about her love of the Wombles, and in particular Uncle Bulgaria, again we get a skewed result.

There are other problems too. Some countries have several names - United Kingdom might be Britain, or England, or Scotland, or Poundland - and Ireland could be north or south. Let's not get Sinn Fein involved. Also, these results apply only to English language blogs and so really it should be "Europe's Top 44 Touring Destinations For People Who Write In English", but that would have been as crap as Abu Hamza on Bullseye.

But forget that. Just like those adverts for expensive shampoo, let's pretend it's scientific.

So, here's the list with the hits in brackets.

1. France (66670)
2. Germany (41052)
3. Turkey (27918)
4. Italy (26355)
5. Netherlands (21629)
6. UK (21067)
7. Austria (20148)
8. Switzerland (20039)
9. Spain (17679)
10. Belgium (14752)
11. Ireland (14462)
12. Hungary (13650)
13. Croatia (13261)
14. Greece (10833)
15. Bulgaria (10405)
16. Slovakia (9648)
17. Romania (9229)
18. Slovenia (9142)
19. Czech Republic (8873)
20. Denmark (8700)
21. Serbia (7964)
22. Poland (7402)
23. Portugal (6883)
24. Luxembourg (6112)
25. Norway (5667)
26. Iceland (4744)
27. Sweden (4431)
28. Montenegro (4035)
29. Russia (3966)
30. Bosnia & Herzegovina (3446)
31. Albania (3440)
32. Liechtenstein (3172)
33. Finland (2783)
34. Estonia (2473)
35. Lithuania (2275)
36. Latvia (2264)
37. Monaco (2009)
38. Ukraine (1702)
39. Malta (1566)
40. Macedonia (1537)
41. Andorra (1269)
42. Cyprus (944)
43. Moldova (657)
44. San Marino (606)
45. Belarus (594)
46. Kosovo (466)

It's fairly obvious that France would get the number one spot, but what surprises me is how popular Turkey is (or maybe how popular turkey sandwiches are in Grimsby). That said, maybe Turkey really just means "everywhere else in Asia", as it's the easiest way to get to everywhere else in Asia. I'm discounting the idea that it's loads of people writing, "You'll never get me going to Turkey!"

What also surprises me is how high Liechtenstein is. I've been there. It's rubbish. And it beats all the Baltic States and some of Europe's other gems. What's going on?

Anyway, there you go. What do you reckon? Are there any countries in this list that deserve to be higher or lower?

Happy pedalling,

PS. In case you were wondering, that shocking number 4 was David Cameron. I thought he would've been higher. He is a massive penis.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

A New Start

It's time to breathe life back into this blog. It's no longer "Getting There By Degrees" (the diary of my 22,000 mile ride) and is now "The European Cycling Blog".

From now on, it will be a more generalised cycle touring blog, not solely concentrating on my adventures, but hopefully with as much nonsense as before.

Bring it on!