You aren’t always on a trip, bike tour or even with just somebody when cycling, which is why riders should make safety issues paramount.
Whether it’s the middle of winter and the dark mornings and evenings mean you’re riding to and from work in the eerie blackness, alone, or you’ve gone for a late night cycle on the industrial estate, safety is an issue.
Regardless of age, experience and gender, it’s not always a “safe situation” that you find yourself in, which is why we’ve come up with some easy-to-follow tips.
Sadly, it is often female cyclists who feel vulnerable when travelling alone in a less-populated area, although men can also find them in such situations and often don’t know how to react as they don’t anticipate it happening…
- Roads vs. Trails: When alone, it’s not worth the risk of doing the country trails and wooded lanes that you prefer. Busy roads can create new challenges, as well as train your overall cycling skills and awareness levels, so if that trail you usually travel down is quiet at certain times of day – go by road instead.
- Protect & think safety first: There may be no reason at all to suspect an incident will occur – you’re never usually given a warning, which is why you must be prepared “just in case”. Keep a mobile phone to hand at all times in case you need to ring 999 or someone you know, carry a personal alarm in case a confrontation goes too far and remember that a description of any unusual person or act is key. If you do find yourself in an uncomfortable scenario, at least, remember who, what, when and where – consider facial features and skin colour, hair colour and a description of the vehicle.
- Be polite, not engaging: If they approach you and speak to you, be polite but firm, preferably in a populated area. Never engage in a conversation with them, they’ll think you’re encouraging them and are more likely to “catch you off guard” if they are a “shady character”.
- Don’t get “trapped” by someone following you: Which means, consider the route ahead, is there an underpass or bridge you have to travel that is scarcely populated and could result in someone stopping you in your tracks? If the area is unpopular at certain times of the year / day, avoid it and find a safer route to travel.
- Never go home when somebody is trailing you suspiciously: If that guy / gal is “up to something”, you should never send them directly to your home / place of work. Go to a public place – whether that’s a McDonald’s, Debenhams, corner shop or petrol station – and report them to somebody if they’re still tailing you. Phone 999.
These are our favourite “rules of cycling alone” to take on board, but there other great additional tips to consider, including:
- Keep your bike well-maintained, so you don’t discover yourself in a dangerous situation with a reduced capability of “getting out of it”.
- Change up your route, so people don’t always “expect” you to be there at certain times / days.
- Improve bike handling abilities and you’ll be better prepared to avoid a situation, whether that’s a suspicious person or an innocent blockage in your path.
- Remain on top of a situation, don’t show it if you’re wary of someone and be decisive – make eye contact so they know you could identify them and are aware of their actions.
Your gut feeling, as with everything in life, is often an excellent indicator. If you feel something is “off” about a person or place, take heed and find another route on which you feel more secure.
Cycling should never be a fearful activity and we’d never want to put anyone off enjoying leisurely cycles alone, but we encourage everybody to be aware of their surroundings and stay safe.
For more information about cycling, search our blog and if you have anything to add, please tweet us at @UKBikeBus!