That is a question the majority of cyclists ask prior visiting a destination and there is no doubt that safety plays an important role in the planning stage of a cycling trip or tour.
This article aims to share with the rest of the cycling communities of the world a realistic and objective approach on the topic of “how safe is Cycling in Greece”.
Cycling in Greece is truly enchanting
In 2015, we took the decision to turn our passion for cycling and exploring, into our profession. At that time we defined and set our values: honesty and quality. Being cyclists ourselves made us see things from a different angle. We have travelled around the world’s most popular cycling sites, taking in all this wonderful planet can offer. Undeliberately, each place we visited had something unique. There hasn’t been any trip that made us feel disappointed about the destination we chose; all the pros and cons of each trip, made us look for the ideal. It was exactly then, when we discovered Greece.
We fell in love with the country, the culture and its people. Still, we cannot believe why Greece is not listed among the world’s top cycling destinations,. In our efforts to share more information, we decided to conduct an extensive study that would bring insights on the level of safety cyclists can enjoy during their time Greece.
Existing information related to safety while cycling in Greece
Upon singing up for this study, we decided to first evaluate the existing information found both online and offline. The sources included in this study are hundreds of online articles / posts and over 90 books containing information related to cycling in Greece. Their content comprises sharing information for just a cycling day or present details for a whole a journey or adventure.
We tried to include as many sources as possible. Removing duplicate information seemed to a more trivia thing than we thought; while reading the material we came across with articles that were using same sources of information but written in different style. Therefore, we are certain that everything that has been included in this study is original and unique.
Online content and various bloggers recommend cycling in Greece with no restrictions
98% of the total posts adopt an overall positive approach of cycling in Greece.
Our categorisation and findings are grouped as per below:
- positive orientated
- negative oriented
- quality analysis on the negative comments found on line
98% of the total posts adopt an overall positive approach of cycling in Greece. They describe the cycling experience as pleasant to extraordinary and they prompt others to join. Information about the morphology (mountainous) and the impact on the effort cyclists may have to endure is also shared but didn’t allow 5% of them make a exquisite reference to safety, which is either positive or negative.
2% of the total posts are negatively oriented towards cycling in Greece. Almost all of them – 97% – mention safety reasons and warn other cyclists for severe, dangerous conditions. The top cited safety issues were:
- “stray dogs” (80% of the in focus segment)
- “poor road conditions” (40% of the in focus segment)
- “careless drivers” (30% of the in focus segment)
note: some posts contain information of multiple safety warnings
Negative online posts: what do they contain?
Negative experience to drive the content creation, mainly to express personal feelings. Going through the articles/posts, which fall into the negatively oriented category, we got the feeling that the authors were urged mainly to express their agony and frustration caused by an unfortunate event, or series of events, rather than share useful and informative content (e.g. a cyclist was speeding to avoid sheepdogs running towards him and he crashed; even though he was not attacked by any dogs at the end, he shared how unfriendly the shepherd was). We found those articles to be of poor quality. Since there is no precise quantitative method to evaluate their quality, these articles are included in this study. However, we prompt readers to raise their attention when they decide to rely their information sourcing on material of such kind.
Included sources types (indicatively)
- travel blogs
- online publications articles
- touristic information
- racing blogs
- extensive and verified comments from services rendered (e.g. a cycling trip)
- facebook, instagram or other social media posts
- Strava, Komoot and RWGPS published
- GrCycling’s content or customers feedback – these are analysed separately.
Greece is a wonderfully safe country to cycle in!
Greece is a wonderfully safe country to cycle in! GrCycling’s study: the most objective approach
Achieving objectivity is probably the hardest thing in our times. However, a large sample of feedback, a wide differentiation on safety cultures, limiting the Greek biasness, and asking the same questions, all provide us with a great, strong foundation, which makes us feel confident to share responsibly the results with the world’s cycling community.
The information shared here is not collected by just one person or a small number of riders carrying a specific culture (e.g. Greeks). In order to keep to our content as unbiased as possible, we have adopted to the following methodology:
- a large sample of riders: here belong all of our customers, both the ones who joined our tours or just hired a bike from us to explore on their own. They cover a wide spectrum of cycling profiles from casual, recreational cyclists to pro riders.
- wide range of cultures: our customers come mainly from countries other than Greece. From the USA to Brazil, form European Countries to South Africa and from those crazy and beloved people from Australia & New Zealand. All share the same cycling culture, but at the same time the have definitely different safety expectations and standards.
- Greek-point-of-view, limited: in this study / report we have taken account only a few credible opinions of Greek riders, who have either lived abroad or have participated in trips at popular cycling destinations out of Greece
The Characteristics of Safety this study examines
Through our questionnaire fulling process, we have categorized a specific set of questions to reflect the three following characteristics:
- Road Conditions & Traffic
- Drivers Behaviour
- Personal Safety
The questions were asked to the subjects and using mobile phones our guides were registering their responses.
Results in detail
Converging results: In all of the three categories, our findings have a low degree of variance with the majority of answers to match the results descriptions as found below:
Road Conditions & Traffic: Very good roads with low traffic
The road conditions are in a very good shape. Only a few mountainous or remote back roads show a greater level of tarmac corrosion, which is still quite acceptable. Traffic conditions are generally very relaxed and with occasional traffic to occur mainly close to touristic areas or big cities. However, when travellers visit Greece during its off-season months and/or chose when to cycle during the day, dense traffic conditions are significantly minimised or completely avoided, even in the most adverse conditions. (e.g. during summer months cycling along the coast can be very busy especially during the weekends. This situation can be avoided by either cycling during the rest of the days – not weekends – or very early in the morning)
Drivers Behaviour: Polite / Extremely friendly
The average impression the cyclists had of the drivers operating their vehicles in close proximity to them, was extremely well. Cyclists reported many incidents that passing-by drivers were cheering for them while being very cautious when overtaking them, allowing a lot space between the vehicle and the cyclist. It is quite interesting that the majority of the cyclists felt safer cycling in Greece than in their countries. The same majority also made a special note of a complete absence of aggression from drivers towards cyclists.
Personal Safety: Extremely Safe
All answers collected on this subject were absolutely reassuring, with no traveller feeling any suspicion or danger for their personal safety and they reported no cases of assault or theft. All cyclists who have chosen Greece for their cycling vacations enjoyed an exciting sense of freedom and respect.
Safety while Cycling in Greece: Case Studies
Bad / Careless Drivers Occurrence
Even though the overall image cyclists formed about the drivers’ behaviour in Greece was quite positive, no one can exclude the sad existence of a careless driver. Unfortunately, possibly being part of human’s uneducated side, this phenomenon is encountered in every country where vehicles are used. Everywhere in the world we witness people texting and driving or changing lanes without indicating when that will happen.
This study is to report that drivers generally are not respecting the speed limits, especially when they are very low. The cases are mainly observed on, or close to, main roads, which should to be kept to the absolute minimum during the planning phase of a cycling trip. Note: no extreme incidents were reported during this study.
Stray Dogs – Need improvement
During the evaluation of the existing online content, we have read a small number of articles which include references of stray, aggressive dogs, which could potentially put the cyclist’s safety at risk. We confirm the existence of stray dogs, mainly at remote, mountainous regions. Even though, no stray dog attacks were reported during this study, we assume that some of them make be aggressive, especially when a riders cycles through a herd of sheep. As a comment, we strongly believe that the bloggers or riders participating to races, mentioning those incidents in their blogs / statements had a completely wrong idea of the dog’s behaviour (commonly an approach to play is perceived as an attack)
Cycling in Athens
The cycling experience in the City of Athens is not part of this report, since cycling in a metropolitan area is not part of any cycling tourism project. However, cycling on the suburbs (North and South) at a radius of 25 km away from the city’s centre, is an experience quite joyful and pleasant, which is included in this report. (example: comments about the traffic conditions from cyclists who were cycling on three-lane motorway are not included in our report)
What is safety while cycling?
Cycling is an activity, which, inevitably, is being carried out on the same road network other vehicles are using*. Based on that, answering the fundamental question “how safe is cycling on roads open to vehicle’s circulation?” is straightforward and definite. No, it is not safe and this applies to every country, where vehicles and bicycles share the same roads (bike lane infrastructure is included). The statistics covering this subject is well represented in the official report of the EU Road Safety Observatory
In this report we examine the “sense of safety” our customers / riders experienced during their cycling trips which based on their standards and what they have experienced while travelling for cycling. This is report offers an evidence supported study on what cyclists perceive as safe during their time in Greece, not a technical safety manual.
*MTBiking is not included in this report
Population in this study
- 1568 cyclists of various levels and preference (excluding MTB bikers)
- 1512 were GrCycling customers – either by renting a bike or being part of our trips (as per Dec 2020), the rest were individuals that our guides have crossed paths with during theirs trips in Greece
- 15 of them were Greek and living in Greece
- All were cycling during their vacations or for training – no commuters