May 9, 2013
In December of 2012, I wrote a blog post on Bicycle Travel Etiquette in response to some reports that had trickled into our office about less than courteous behavior by traveling cyclists at a few Cyclists Only Lodging and Camping locations.
Some background for those not familiar with Cyclist Only accommodations:
Over the years we have received inquiries from people — private citizens, churches, city officials — who see traveling cyclists come through their community and want to offer cold water, a place to pitch a tent, a warm meal or a bed to sleep in. These services have been extended in the spirit of our very own trail angel, the late June Curry.
We add them to the service directory on our maps as Cyclists Only Camping or Lodging where appropriate or direct them to the WarmShowers community if they are not located adjacent to our route network.
In my book, these people are shining stars of goodwill, exemplifying what world traveler Andrew Evans wrote in a recent National Geographic article, "Instead of suspicion and assuming the worst in others, travel forces us to trust total strangers and hope for the best. Instead of defining the world by enemies, it lets us color the globe with new friends."
So it was with concern that I wrote my blog post in December. I wanted to attempt to reverse the bad trend before it gained momentum. I began soliciting comments from cyclists and hosts, staff members, and representatives of WarmShowers.
Through an email exchange, Randy Fay, of Warmshowers told me, "We have occasional complaints about members, but I don't think they have increased except perhaps in proportion to our membership, which has shot up [in 2012] by 10,000. ... In order to improve our process, we began tracking serious accusations about members. Typically we've had only a few complaints a year. Since we started formally tracking *serious* allegations [in November 2012], we've had three."
Mark Martin, also of Warmshowers echoes Randy, "I have to agree with Randy — we really don't have a lot of trouble with guests and hosts."
On our Facebook page, Jim says, "This needs to be turned around ASAP! Respect is the keyword. Always leave a place better than you found it!"
But it's not all bad, Rachel added, "This is interesting, totally different experiences than on the warmshowers.org. We have hosted at least a dozen cyclists almost every year and haven't had a bad experience. We love meeting fellow travellers."
We eventually came to the conclusion that what seemed like common sense to us was perhaps not common sense to all and we might be in a good position to offer guidance to both bicycle travelers and the people who host them.
It is our intention to facilitate a conversation amongst cyclists and hosts here — and within the Warmshowers community — to create a set of guidelines to be helpful for all.
We encourage you to participate with us by sharing your experiences. Do you have a set of rules you go by when hosting or asking for accommodation? What else do you think is pertinent to the conversation? You can comment on this post, email your responses to me at jhmilykoATadventurecyclingDOTorg or send a tweet to @acaroutes.
Photo from markstos's Flickr photostream.
GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer 'Jenn' Milyko, an Adventure Cycling cartographer, and appears weekly, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.