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My friends and I are planning a cycling trip for this summer. We usually do this once a year and often go to the Alps (Austria/France/Switzerland/Italy) but this time we would like to go somewhere else. We're now looking into Romania / Poland.

What we usually do is ride somewhere by car, find a camping ground and than make cycle trips from there on race bikes (so with no luggage). What I am wondering, with no intention of judging or whatsoever, is how safe it is to go around cycling in these parts of the world. I am not so much concerned about the traffic (Can't be more dangerous than Italy, right? ;) ) but how are the chances of robbery when you're going around with 4/5 expensive bikes and equipment?

On camping grounds we usually lock the bikes with a ludicrous amount of locks, but out on the road you can get to some pretty remote locations.

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Speaking of Poland, where I live, I'd say there's nothing to worry about regarding safety. No wild tribes living in the forests, no pirates and no horse stealers gangs are there nowadays :) Of course if you leave your expensive bike outside without any lock, it can happen that someone will pay more interest to it and eventually take it, but I'm sure it's equally possible in Italy or the Netherlands. But reasonable amount of precaution similar to wester Europe will be more than enough to spend fantastic time here.

  • and as for the roads - do not expect bike routes along roads, they are very uncommon – Kamil Mikolajczyk Apr 10 '15 at 11:44
  • More likely in the Netherlands I would say, as all Dutch use bikes and can guess their value. – Willeke Apr 24 '15 at 15:39
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Difficult to give an answer with hard data on this question, but I can talk from personal experience of cycling multiple Eastern European countries (not Romania, but Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo...)

Traffic, especially out of the cities, is in general pleasant. This is mainly because the traffic is less dense in Eastern Europe, than in Western Europe. But people tend to drive fast on curvy roads. Just make sure you stick to the right side of the road and everything should be fine. To me it didn't feel less safe than Italy, but even in Italy there is a huge variation. I felt a lot safer in the Alps than in let's say Napoli.

Considering the risk of robbery, you are in my opinion overly worried. It can of course happen, just like it can happen anywhere. But normally the remote places are the safest in that regard, while it are the cities that pose the highest risk for criminality.

My advice would be to tackle the safety aspect in exactly the same way as you did it on previous trips and focus on more important issues: finding nice routes etc.

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Being from Romania + using bike in the city + having 900 km long bike trip behind me, I can tell you the followings:

  • Bike theft is indeed common in Romania, especially in cities (I myself had 2 bikes stolen, they were tied down in the flat's locked area, but still). I think that there is equal risk for your equipment to be stolen during the night, or your car to be broken into while you are biking somewhere during the day. But it is not THAT common to avoid the country only for this reason. Basic safety measures (leaving no valuables on visible places + keeping the car on a guarded parking lot) are usually enough.
  • Depending on what is your destination, the traffic can be a nuisance. Romania's road system is far from perfect: there are almost no consistent highways, this meaning that most of the traffic is on the national and European level (E60, E81 etc.) roads. On these roads the traffic is heavy, especially around cities; trucks use the same roads, and they are very aggressive, as they sometimes don't care that their wind might push you off the road. Also, be aware that the national and European roads do NOT avoid populated areas, so you will go from village to village all the time, while travelling on the main roads.
  • Drivers themselves are very rude and aggressive. If you travel in a caravan-sort of group, they might cheer for you with their horns, but it is more common to encounter crazy people driving with 80 km/h in the villages (as mentioned above, big roads cross a lot of them) or overtaking at 120km/h speed when the other car is just 20 m away on the other direction (no exaggeration intended, unfortunately).

Get a good map and try to avoid the main roads. Romania is worth a visit, people are friendly and helpful in most cases. These road issues can be avoided by travelling on the county level roads (marked with blue sign on the maps) or the local roads (yellow, although these might be of very-very poor quality sometimes).

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I myself am a first time visitor in Romania and have spent some time cycling here. I don't know from personal experience, but have been told a lot of bicycles are stolen here and that you should always lock your bike.

Bucharest being more dangerous than anywhere else in Romania and with that said, I'd personally avoid it. But your other cities here, I wouldn't worry too much about your safety, it's safer than a lot of other places.

As for the traffic, well, it's not very safe. Drivers are quite aggressive and not at all courteous. (At least here in Cluj-Napoca)

I'm always cautious riding on the road here, and you have to ride defensively and be fully aware of your surroundings (360 degrees).

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