Rather than risk sounding preachy, we’ll simply offer a list of things to consider that can help keep you safe while on tour. Use or lose these ideas as you see fit, but at least give them all some thought.
1. Always wear a helmet, eye protection, and high-visibility clothing.
2. Don’t ride wearing headphones. The ability to hear your surroundings is second in importance only to being able to see ahead …
3. … and behind. Equip your bike or helmet with a rearview mirror.
4. Have a headlight and flashing rear light. The latter makes you dramatically more noticeable to traffic approaching from behind.
5. Don’t ride after dark.
6. Take special precautions in certain light situations, such as when riding eastward toward the rising sun, which may make you hard to spot by vehicles moving in the same direction.
7. Avoid riding on busy roads that lack shoulders.
8. When stopping, get at least 10 feet off the roadway.
9. Develop the habit of doing morning checks of your bike, looking for things like loose bolts, brakes that need adjusting, and under-inflated tires.
10. Add a handlebar-mounted bell to your bike. It will come in handy particularly on shared pathways, where you can warn pedestrians and others that you are approaching from behind.
11. Obey all traffic rules and signs as if you were driving a car; e.g., stop and wait for red lights to turn green.
12. Stay out of other vehicles’ blind spots, and always indicate your intentions to turn or stop with hand signals.
13. Beware of parked cars and the possibility of street-side doors swinging open.
14. Don’t text and ride!
15. Don’t drink and ride.
16. Always carry an I.D. and emergency contact information in your wallet or handlebar bag.
17. Lock your bike when leaving it, and carry valuables (wallet, camera, etc.) with you in a detachable handlebar bag or other type of pack.
18. Stay legal when camping: Overnight only at officially designated campgrounds, on public lands where dispersed camping is permitted, or on private property where you have obtained permission to camp.
19. Don’t take candy from strangers.