Most of the 20 bicycle touring safety tips below make common sense although some of the tips may be new to you.
Tip 1 – Bell
This Is a must to alert pedestrians and other cyclists of your presence. In some regions such as Toronto you must legally have a bell or horn while cycling.
Tip 2 – Cobblestones
If you are bicycle touring In Europe cycling over cobblestones can be tricky the first time if you are not used to them so take care and ride slowly. Also note that in some regions legally you must use bike lanes where available (i.e. Denmark).
Tip 3 – Color
Always wear brightly colored jackets or clothing during a storm so the drivers can see you. Most cyclists wear a yellow or red jacket. Surprising, there are many riders who disagree with this as they do not want to stand out, go figure.
Tip 4 – First Aid Kit
A minimum of one person in your cycling group must carry a first aid kit or at least the bare essentials. Even a simple fall may require bandages.
Tip 5 – Focus
Enjoy the scenery during your bicycle touring because that is a major reason for your cycling trip. That means focusing on your cycling with no headphones, and stopping if you need to use a cellphone.
Tip 6 – Helmet
Wear a helmet whenever cycling as a cap will not help you much if you fall. Replace your bike helmet every few years as the materials weaken in the sun. In many regions it is a legal requirement to wear a helmet.
Tip 7 – Hydration
Drink water or sports drinks before you get thirsty. Most cyclists do not drink enough. Among other things you will find you have no power to cycle, even on flat terrain if you do not get the necessary hydration. I have also been on a number of rides where the cyclist skipped breakfast and we had to stop as they had no energy to continue the ride.
Tip 8 – ID bracelet
For safety reasons many cyclists are now wearing an ID bracelet while bicycle touring. Should an accident occur the emergency workers have immediate access to important medical information.
Tip 9 – Insurance
If you are bicycle touring away from home you should carry medical coverage. Without insurance medical costs can be expensive. In some countries such as Switzerland all cyclists are required to have local insurance coverage. If you are traveling with a travel company it is usually compulsory that you have travel insurance to participant in the tour.
Tip 10 – Lights
Both front and rear lights should be used at night so drivers can see you. In some regions it is a legal requirement to have bicycle lights.
Tip 11 – Loaded bicycle
If riding with loaded panniers you will find the bicycle handles differently, so if you have not practiced with a fully loaded bicycle take it easy on the first few hills and whenever making turns. Your bicycle will react much slower than you are used to.
Tip 12 – Mirrors
You need to see who or what is behind safely without looking. There are two types of bike mirrors: one type fits on the end of your handlebar while the other type is attached to your helmet. It is personal preference as to which type is best.
Tip 13 – Reflectors
Are required by law in some countries, such as Austria, for all cyclists.
Tip 14 – Signaling
Let other cyclists and drivers know your intentions.
Tip 15 – Single file
Travel in single file not only on busy roads, but also on busy bike paths such as the Danube route.
Tip 16 – Storms
If you encounter a storm with lightening seek shelter, but never under a tree.
Tip 17 – Stopping
A common error is for cyclists to stop suddenly without signaling and remaining on the bicycle path. Just don’t do it.
Tip 18 – Tools
Ensure you or someone you are cycling with carries bicycle tools and a pump for minor fixes. I don’t know how many times I have stopped to assist someone without a pump or extra tube. It can be a long way home walking on some routes if you cannot repair your bike.
Tip 19 – Traffic
If concerned about cycling with cars then be sure to use some of the long distance bike paths available.
Tip 20 – Tune up
Have your bicycle checked by a professional at least once a year and always prior to a major journey.
It doesn’t hurt to wear proper bike clothing either. Follow these bicycle touring safety tips and have a enjoyable trip!