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Cycling in Tbilisi

I'll have my citizenship soon, which means I've been researching where to go for field work next. At the moment the contenders are Turkey, Georgia, and Korea (agglutinative languages).

Naturally biking in Turkey is pretty much not in my plans, and in Korea there are usually pretty good paths but most people wear masks to prevent breathing in the pollution. The unknown is Georgia. A quick google result for Tblisi cycling safety confirms my expectation, it would be roughly equivalent to biking in a Romanian city. I also ran across this video of two dudes on a cycling demonstration of how to freak out cars in Tblisi. Not exactly my style...

I also found Derek's post about commuting in Tblisi, which was far more informative.

... drivers in Tbilisi are widely acknowledged to be crazy--Georgian machismo combined with lax traffic enforcement leads to dangerous speeding, aggressive tailing, games of Chicken, and lots of accidents. In six months in Georgia, I've personally witnessed two rear-end collisions, had the city bus I was riding in scrape the side of a taxi, and driven or walked past three multi-vehicle high-speed accidents. Not the biggest sample size, of course, but I'm pretty sure the statistics support me on this one.

Despite this, I actually feel pretty safe riding my bike around Tbilisi, for a few reasons.

The first reason is simply experience: I've ridden thousands of total miles on dense, high-traffic streets in Chicago, and while Chicago is a very bike-friendly city by American standards, it has its fair share of crazy drivers. Knowing how traffic flows, and how to position yourself in the road is a key part of safe city cycling ...Pursued by a Bear: Bicycle commuting in Georgia

As for biking outside the city, it looks like a pretty intense version of my trip in the mountains around Lake Champlain, with some crazy views and hikes thrown in, and maybe not solo with full camping equipment. My cassette was pretty much scrap after climbing 22,000 feet with 15kg of camping gear. I bet a 6 day trip in the Caucuses would be far more than triple that.

Of course, I've never seen a bike rental shop which had any bikes that were actually big enough for me. In Germany I bought a bike, and sold it once I got to the Czech Republic at no loss.  So, do I bring my bike, or do I play it by ear when I get to my destination...


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