Touring Safety and Security

Get a bicycle. You will certainly not regret it, if you live. -Mark Twain

There are many aspects to safety both on and off the road. It is the responsibility of both cyclists and automobile drivers to keep the roads safe for everyone.

Skill

  • I can comfortably and proficiently handle my bicycle with the trailer. Even though the route is designed for the cyclist, it is not a bike lane. Most all riding will be on shoulders of primary and secondary roads.
  • I ride with courtesy and am very defensive. Anticipating traffic situations is very important since there is a great differential between my speed and that of motorists and pedestrians.
  • As a cyclist I must also obey all posted traffic signs and signals.

Planning

  • Riding from east to west is a very safe thing to do. I do as much riding as possible early in the day when the traffic is light and the weather is fair. This puts the sun to my back so I don't have to squint. Drivers can also see me much more clearly this way.
  • Weekend traffic is far more intense and frantic than weekday traffic near tourist attractions. I plan to arrive in these places during the week when viable and am patient with traffic during busy times. Attitude leads to success here.

Equipment

  • Helmet
    • Giro Stelvio (htweight bicycle lock to keep people honest
    • Headlight
    • Reflective tape on the side and rear of the bicycle and trailer
    • Handlebar rear view mirror
    • Red LED tail light on bicycle and trailer for cloudy days and near sunrise and sunset
    • Seat bag and trailer bag are gold in color for high visibility

    Interaction with people and other animals

    • Street smarts for dealing with people (although people who live along the TransAmerica route have had thousands of cyclists pass through their towns over the last 25 years).
    • Halt! dog repellent spray (pepper spray) - I take it feisty canine encounters. Many touring cyclists regret not taking this simple and effective animal deterrant. Kentucky is especially notable for a number of stray dogs. Some cyclists carry dog biscuits to appease the dogs but this just trains them to run after cyclists.
    • A "bear bag" is hung each night when camping to keep animals from eating through my bags. All foodstuff and cleaning products must always be placed in a stuff sack and hung from a tree.

    Security

    • Having a bike on tour is like watching a baby. You can't just set it down and walk away for a while. You have to keep your eyes on it and guard it with your life. It is difficult to watch a hunk of metal for weeks on end but it is necessary.
    • A bike lock is a very smart thing to have along. Locks are meant to keep people honest - they can't keep a determined person from stealing or breaking a bike. I use a relatively lightweight lock when I can't keep my eyes on my bike.

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Updated 6.28.12
© 2001-2012
Lawrence J. Flint
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