In cities like Rotterdam and Copenhagen bikes rule. It was a little strange the first time I visited Europe and saw just how many people used a bicycle as their primary means of transit, but it's for good reason.
It also got me thinking about how a bicycle would stack up in a disaster scenario. Perhaps the roads are closed or there's no fuel left for your car. A bike could be an ideal vehicle, but the situation needs to be right.
Today, we're going to cover the pro's and con's of using your bicycle as a bug-out-vehicle, so you know when it makes sense to pedal off into the sunset.
It's faster than walking
Remember that feeling when you hit a slight downhill stretch of road and you just take off? On a bike, the average human is about three times faster than if they walked the same distance. Three times faster. This means you could get to your bug-out-location in two hours instead of six. Or a day instead of spending three out on the road.
It's easier to carry stuff
With the right saddlebags, you can load more supplies onto your bike than you could comfortably carry on your back. Plus, load it evenly and you'll still be able to move at some speed, which is great if you're needing to escape a situation quickly.
It's relatively quiet
Compared to a motorbike or even a car, zipping through the streets on a bicycle is almost silent, giving you the opportunity to move from location to location with a little stealth. Ideal if you don't want to be noticed by any potential threats in the area or draw any attention to yourself. Just make sure you remove any lights or reflectors when travelling at night.
You can take it (almost) anywhere
On a bicycle you can slip through many places you wouldn't fit with a car. Weaving around obstacles like a line of abandoned cars on the road instead of getting stuck in the jam. Plus, you can also take it off road and follow any small trails or paths through the woods when the main roads are too dangerous to risk.
You can modify your bicycle
There's so many available modifications to make your bike a more effective bug-out vehicle. In addition to brackets to hold holsters for your weapons, you can add baskets for carrying supplies, and even add a cart attachment if you've got a whole heap of gear. Extra suspension can help if you're going off-road, and you can even add an electric motor for a little bit of assistance making it up the hills.
But even with my love of bicycles, there's a few downsides to consider. Here's when it may not be a smart bug-out choice.
You lack the physical ability
It takes effort to ride a bike, especially if you're going through rough terrain or over a long distance. You need to be fit, and can't simply expect to jump on your bike and be rearing to go if you've not actually rode one since you were a kid. Practice, and train so that you're ready to use your bicycle should the situation call for it. Even small trips with a couple of things loaded into your saddle bags will help you prepare for a longer journey.
You're exposed to dangers
There's no protection from the elements on your bicycle, and you'll be in the scorching sun all day or battling off the freezing rain. Make sure you've got adequate clothing so you can protect yourself and perhaps even enough camping gear if you find the weather too dangerous to continue. But that's not all. On a bike you're also not very well protected against people who wish you harm. If you're passing through a dangerous area you may find you're targeted or shot at, so try to avoid taking any unnecessary risks.
You need to look after your bike
If you're heading anywhere over a distance you're going to need to perform regular maintenance on your bicycle. Especially if you're carrying a lot of gear. Know how to perform basic repairs like patching a flat tire or replacing a damaged tube, and ensure you've got the supplies you need to perform these repairs on the road. Like our 16-in-1 multi-tool. You need to be able to quickly fix any damage to your bike and get moving again.
You may get hurt
Falling off your bike is never fun. I had a chain come loose on my old bicycle and was tossed right over my handlebars and slid about 6 feet along the road. Luckily, it was winter and the combination of the icy roads and my thick jacket and gloves kept me from any real harm, except for a few bruises. I always wear a helmet, and make sure you've got long sleeves and pants to protect your skin, just in case you take a fall. Having a first aid kit is another good idea, and take it slow if you're going over rough or unfamiliar terrain. It's no fun taking a tumble and landing on the road.
So is bugging out on a bicycle for you?
Personally, bugging out with my bike isn't my first plan of action, but it is in my list of backups. I've got too many things I want to take to my hideaway should a disaster hit, and it's just not practical.
But that being said, if I wasn't able to take my car for whatever reason, a bike is a good backup. Perhaps my car's not starting, there's no fuel, or congestion on the roads means I won't be able to escape. A bicycle is a fantastic alternative, as you can quickly and silently get away from any danger. All it takes is a little planning, and making sure you're able to handle yourself well enough on your bike to get to safety.
And getting to safety is all we're trying to do.