Category Cycling News
cycling on spanish roads

Tips to Stay Safe on a Spanish Cycling Tour

When you take a bike trip in a foreign country, it’s natural to be nervous. If you’re a Brit, the chances are that you’ll be cycling on the ‘wrong side of the road’. Many of the road signs will be different to those you are used to. The rules of the road may be different, too.

The last thing you want is to have an accident. Especially if you aren’t fluent in Spanish. While many Spaniards speak English, it’s always best to know a few basic phrases when you go to Spain.

How likely is it that you might have an accident on a bike in Spain? Is cycling on Spanish roads dangerous?

Cyclists Do Have Accidents on Spanish Roads

Let’s tackle the elephant in the room first.

Cycling is a hugely popular pastime, with people cycling for transport, for sport, and for recreation. It’s estimated that 5% to 6% of the Spanish ride a bike regularly, and that number could explode in the future. Four in ten people in Spain have considered switching from their car to a bicycle.

Like any other country with a high number of cycling enthusiasts, cyclists in Spain do become involved in accidents. In 2019, there were 80 cyclists who died because of a road accident in Spain. While this is some way below the 100+ killed on UK’s roads, it highlights that all road users face risks.

However, when we look at the actual numbers of cyclists involved in accidents on Spanish roads, the percentage is exceedingly small. In fact, only around two in 1,000 cyclists will suffer an accident on Spain’s roads in any given year, and the vast majority of these don’t require any hospital treatment.

The Main Causes of Cycling Accidents in Spain

As in the UK, cyclists must often share the road with other vehicles, despite the number of cycle lanes in cities and towns. But, when it comes to accidents on the roads, the causes are quite different in Spain compared to the UK.

In the UK, the most road accidents involving bikes are caused by drivers. These include failing to see cyclists, turning into the path of a cyclist, vehicles pulling out of a junction, and careless driving.

In Spain, motorists tend to be much more conscious of cyclists. Many of the roads are wider, which may also help. The main causes of accidents involving bikes in Spain are:

  • Cyclists ignoring priority signs
  • Cyclists riding on the wrong side of the road
  • Cyclists riding on roads prohibited to bikes

What does this tell us?

If you know your road signs, cycle on the correct side of the road, and stick to roads and cycle lanes, you are far less likely to be involved in an accident. In short, know the rules of the road for cycling in Spain!

A Couple of Key Road Use Rules to Follow in Spain

There are a couple of road rules that you should know before cycling on Spanish roads.

The first of these is that roundabouts are dangerous places! The rule on a roundabout is that vehicles should only exit the roundabout from the outside lane, and you should give way to vehicles in the outside lane.

It’s always best to take care at roundabouts and other junctions. You should never enter a roundabout without checking that other vehicles aren’t on the roundabout. But here is a difference to the roads in the UK:

If you are in a cycling group, once the first cyclist has entered an intersection or roundabout, the whole cycle group has priority.

You are also allowed to ride two abreast on Spanish roads, but you must keep as far right as possible.

Common Sense – The Key to Safe Cycling on Spanish Roads

When you book a cycle tour with Bicilona, we will help you by explaining the key road rules and priority road signs. However, staying safe on Spanish roads is mostly about using a good amount of common sense:

  • Keep your eyes and ears open
  • Wear a helmet (even though it’s not compulsory on urban roads)
  • Pack as light as you can – but make sure you pack what you need when cycling in Spain
  • Always use the correct type of bike (our bikes are made for the roads you’ll be cycling on)
  • Plan your trip, according to your likes and cycling ability

Start in a Safe Cycling City

Some cities are more advanced in their approach to cycling than others. If it’s your first time in cycling on Spanish roads, consider a tour to one of the most bike-friendly cities in Spain. According to a major study conducted by OCU, the best cities for cyclists in Spain are:

  • Vitoria
  • Seville
  • Valencia
  • San Sebastian
  • Barcelona

Barcelona received a five-star rating on continuousness, directness, recognisability, denseness, and the passing through of major thoroughfares. It only fell slightly short of the top rating on uniformity and completeness.

With so much variety and choice of cycle tours in and around Barcelona, and such great weather for cycling for so much of the year, you’d be mad not to make Barcelona your first choice for your first cycling holiday in Spain.

To start designing your perfect road cycling holiday in Spain, contact Bicilona today.