Anyone ever considered moving abroad for the better cycling experience?

Roger Longbottom

Über Member
To be fair @Welsh wheels I split my time between UK and Portugal. There are considerate and ar-ehole drivers in both countries. @CXRAndy though has nailed the point, less densely populated.

When in Portugal I have one main road to navigate before hitting the sparsely populated back roads, and mile after mile of them.

Worrying though, when you stop at a café many many drivers will stop, not for a coffee but for a bottle of Sagres or Superbock then get back in their cars, drive to the next roadside cafe and repeat.

In my local, the local GNR (police) stops every night after work for a couple of beers and then straight back into the car. Drinking and driving, although from memory a lower limit than UK, seems to be widely accepted.

In the 15 years I have been cycling in Portugal, in my experience, driver tolerance to cyclists has reduced. When I first cycled there if on a quiet country lane a car approaching from behind would give a light toot on the horn to let you know they were coming, this practice I no longer witness, in that respect it is just like UK now, they will try and get past at earliest opportunity.

The plus points of cycling out there, deserted back roads, numerous cafés, cheap coffee.
 
OP
Welsh wheels

Welsh wheels

Lycra king
Location
South Wales
Sometimes, what 'feels' safer is all you need to enjoy your cycling. It's the reason why most people are scared to ride on UK roads, they're scared. Hence the big push for segregated infrastructure.
I have reasonable experience of riding in France, less so in Spain and Italy, but still a bit even there. No doubt whatsoever in my mind that France 'feels' safer, therefore it's more enjoyable.
I'm not usually scared on UK roads, but all it takes is one close pass like today that gets me all flustered. It's a hearts and minds issue IMO. If you can convince UK drivers that cyclists are not the spawn of the devil, then driving standards will drastically increase.
 
I'd move tomorrow if I could. A stone cottage in a nice sleepy town in the Pyrenees, if you're offering.

My experience for 90% of France and northern Spain/Catalonia was just magic.
The French Riviera had lots of crap, impatient drivers. In Italy the moped riders were suicidal.

I'm sure there are categories of dangerous driving on the continent that don't seem to be nearly as acceptable here in the UK - if you go to e.g. Tenerife you'll see that most cars have more than a few dents in the bodywork. When I ran out of daylight halfway up a mountain road there, I got a lift off an otherwise very nice guy who spent most of the time fiddling with his phone in a way that would not happen here.

Without wanting to generalise, I imagine that most on the continent believe it fine to drive after a cheeky cerveza or petit biere - 20 years ago, someone I used to know in the UK would consider themselves fine to drive the dark lanes of Devon after a couple of pints in a way that would be met with extreme disapproval nowadays.

That being said, the driving culture in the UK sucks, pure entitlement, and the attitude towards vulnerable road users absolutely stinks.
 

Gunk

Über Member
Location
Oxford
Although some of the best cycling I've experienced has been in Ireland and France, I'd never move abroad. Although we all like to moan about the weather and the disaster that is Brexit, IMHO the UK is a still a great place to live.

The grass may seem greener, but it's still grass!

I was out recently on my motorbike very early, and as I was riding through West Oxfordshire into the Cotswolds on mainly deserted roads I was thinking to myself how lucky I am to live here. Not everyone makes the most of what is on our doorstep.
 
Location
London
Not for cycling, no.
I think this is just an all too common/fashionable delight in slagging britain and the brits off, often by folk who pride themselves on being cosmpolitan and broadminded. Which is somewhat ironic.
As Drago says, the French accident rate is significantly worse than britain.
The worst example of driving I ever saw was by a driver of a french plated car in outer london.
Italy also has a worse accident rate than the UK.
Its drivers may be pretty good with cyclists but they often treat pedestrians with utter contempt, which I don't like at all.
A quick google will find endless sorry tales of folk mown down on zebra crossings - not surprising - I've seen shocking stuff.
I have driven a fair bit with an italian passenger in the UK - they thought me bonkers/wimpy for thanking other drivers for small courtesies with my palm.
I was out riding the North Downs and kent today - many drivers waited patiently behind me as I climbed, one even backed up to let me through. I felt a bit guilty so made a point of pulling over to let two cars through later.
There were several raised/palmed hands, and I probably missed a few.
 
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nickyboy

Norven Mankey
You need to compare apples with apples. If you live in a big town in UK, unsurprising living in a French village will be very peaceful and the cycling too. Try cycling around Marseilles on Lyon and see how that compares

I live in a small market town on the edge of open countryside. The cycling is really good (but hard) with quiet roads and mainly considerate drivers. I have no desire to live overseas for cycling reasons other than better winter weather. Having said that, summers are too hot in S Europe for my cycling

@Drago is right. As a nation we are safe drivers, the stats prove it.
 

HMS_Dave

Senior Member
Location
Midlands
Whether attitudes to cyclist are hostile or friendly the fact is when you mix fast moving heavy metal boxes inches from a squishy fragile human accidents happen. For all of the hostility towards cyclists in Britain I dont think motorists are murdering us cyclists, well mostly anyway... Even in the Netherlands there are arguments between cyclists and motorists. I will until the end of my life campaign for better cycling here in the UK rather than move to get better cycling of which the differences are probably smaller than you think. Be the change and all of that...
 

wafter

Über Member
Location
Oxford
If circumstances were different I'd move to the Netherlands (pref. Utrecht) in a heartbeat - the more pleasant cycling experience would be a good part of the reason, but it extends far further than this in terms of how it's integrated into society and plays such a pivotally important role for everyone's mutual benefit.

Even once you forget about cycling completely the pragmatic, responsible, inclusive and egalitarian attitude that led to the country becoming such a cycling utopia is evident throughout much of the rest of the culture too; making it a much better place to live full stop IMO.
 
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OP
Welsh wheels

Welsh wheels

Lycra king
Location
South Wales
Although some of the best cycling I've experienced has been in Ireland and France, I'd never move abroad. Although we all like to moan about the weather and the disaster that is Brexit, IMHO the UK is a still a great place to live.

The grass may seem greener, but it's still grass!

I was out recently on my motorbike very early, and as I was riding through West Oxfordshire into the Cotswolds on mainly deserted roads I was thinking to myself how lucky I am to live here. Not everyone makes the most of what is on our doorstep.
I agree, nothing wrong with the scenery in the UK.
 

tyred

Legendary Member
Location
Ireland
I cycled NCN 78 last September and was genuinely amazed at the courtesy displayed by drivers compared to here.

I avoid any main road here but can't generally complain. I really do feel driver attitude has improved in recent years. It was much worse when I started cycling again as an adult c2007. It is over twenty years since I sat my driving test but apparently there is now a lot in it about how to overtake cyclists (wasn't there when I was learning to drive) and I honestly feel it helps as it is very rare to have a dangerous overtake from a younger driver. Those that do are mostly middle-aged.

There is much more of a car culture in the north of Ireland where I live compared to the south but apart from causing noise pollution and generally being a nuisance, young people "cruising" around in an ancient VW covered in bodykits don't put me in any danger. The danger comes from middle-aged professionals in BMWs and Audis.

I actually think I'm very lucky to live here. I live in a town big enough to have any facility I am likely to need but a few minutes out the road in any direction puts me into open countryside.
 

Domus

Veteran
Location
Sunny Radcliffe
I drove down to Tuscany a couple of years ago for a cycling holiday. Driving through Florence I spotted a very old guy with a walking stick on the kerb by a Zebra crossing, I stopped and gestured for him to cross. He looked at me as if I was demented and the noise of the car horns behind was incessant. The old chap refused to cross so I reluctantly carried on my way still with blaring horns behind reminding me of my transgression. When I related my tale to my Italian hosts I was told in no uncertain terms that the traffic stops for no one. :wacko:
 

raleighnut

Legendary Member
Location
On 3 Wheels
I cycled NCN 78 last September and was genuinely amazed at the courtesy displayed by drivers compared to here.

I avoid any main road here but can't generally complain. I really do feel driver attitude has improved in recent years. It was much worse when I started cycling again as an adult c2007. It is over twenty years since I sat my driving test but apparently there is now a lot in it about how to overtake cyclists (wasn't there when I was learning to drive) and I honestly feel it helps as it is very rare to have a dangerous overtake from a younger driver. Those that do are mostly middle-aged.

There is much more of a car culture in the north of Ireland where I live compared to the south but apart from causing noise pollution and generally being a nuisance, young people "cruising" around in an ancient VW covered in bodykits don't put me in any danger. The danger comes from middle-aged professionals in BMWs and Audis.

I actually think I'm very lucky to live here. I live in a town big enough to have any facility I am likely to need but a few minutes out the road in any direction puts me into open countryside.
Aye if wasn't a cripple these days I'd be off to Ireland in a heartbeat.
 
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