10 safety tips for solo female cyclists

Posted by tan xiao yan on

While cycling with friends or family or significant other has its own perks, it also comes with disadvantages. From finding a common date to deciding on a budget that suits everyone, cycling with a group of friends can be a hassle. And, though all this may not be an issue in case of family, the sense of responsibility that you need a break from will still be there. Above all, every girl needs a little me-time, doesn’t she? So, don’t hesitate, cycle solo. Set your own pace, find your confidence. Start with groups and clubs that chalk up plans for women to come together and embark on journeys, with the safety and comfort of women as their priorities. It will be easier to convince your family about you going cycling with agencies that specialize in taking groups of solo women cyclists. You will feel the growth of faith in your own instincts. You will learn to feel safe, every day. Here are some tips for solo female cyclists.

Know where to go.
Research about the safest places in the world for female travelers, and then lock the place. Even the safest countries in the world have a few notorious nooks. So go through the travel bloggers who have visited the place, take their advice, and read through forums to get a better picture. Know where you’re going, and how to get there by bike. Prefer side streets with lighter traffic and avoid crummier areas of town. Google is getting better at this, but around here it will still favor expressways (with bike lanes but 50mph traffic) over residential side streets (25mph, often very light traffic, but no bike lane). Finding good bike routes is choosing a balance of safety, directness and how hilly it may be.

Know where you’ll stay.
Now that your destination is sorted, you need to look out for all the safest accommodations for solo women. How to know a hotel/hostel/Airbnb/resort is safe? Well, the pre-requisites are:

Location: Make sure the location of the hotel is not too secluded and IS SAFE. Also, it should be close to any of the tourist hubs in the city/country.

Security: 24-hour reception and CCTV surveillance are main things you should look for

Assess the possible risk.
An emergency may occur to you at any time. Road conditions may include all sorts of stuff: wet leaves, litter, things-other-than-bikes in the bike lane (trash, dumpsters, people double-parked, portable road signs), potholes, gratings, and railroad tracks. The more you are aware of the potential danger, the more alert and cautious you will be. Advance preparation is always a good thing. Cycling in the dark is dangerous. If possible, you’d better avoid cycling at night.

Develop your cycling and maintenance skills well.
Cycling alone means that you have to deal with most of the problems such as mechanic problems, road bully and so on by yourself unless you can find a man worth trusting and willing to help you. These all demand experienced cycling skills. For example, everyone knows that it is unwise to be in the left lane when you're turning right, but drivers don't consider the bike lane a real lane. So they usually don't think about the cyclist they just passed up when they slow to make that right turn. In fact, they've completely forgotten about him as soon as they pass. In this circumstance, you need make a quick reaction and watch out the car drivers.

You can go places and directions on a bike that people in cars can’t. If you’d like to put some distance between yourself and a catcalling or abusive driver, head the other way on the sidewalk. Even a block or two is probably enough. (Riding on the sidewalk makes you far harder to see from the street, and could endanger people on foot. It is illegal in some places and merely bad form in others, so be careful and use judiciously.)safety tips for solo female cyclists

Prepare the accessories and other equipment.
There are many other items either very useful or obvious (a mapping device, water bottles, warm clothing), or essentials for trips outside populated areas (crossing the Gobi desert, for example, you might want extra tires) but I wouldn't leave home without the above on any general touring trip. Most other items or problems (worn out gears, breaking a cable) can be rectified and/or ridden for a day or two until the next grocery store or bike shop.

Here are some recommendations: extra tubes- for flat tires, pump- not a CO2 inflator, but something you can use over and over, or for pumping slow leaks, patch kit- when you run out of tubes (lots of flats in a day), wrenches/ chain breaker- for tightening loose bolts, adjusting parts, and repairing broken chains, extra spokes- because even big bike stores may not have the right length for your wheels if you break one, and energy bar- for emergency bank situations, or miss-timing next grocery or gas station stop, and for using the foil wrapper to temporarily repair large slits in tires.

Other preparations.
As a solo woman cyclist, you need to be self-reliant and use street-smarts. For instance, carry your own cash, map, guidebook, phrasebook, umbrella, pepper-spray, etc. Do some research about weather conditions, public transportation and acceptable attires in the location you’re visiting. As for foods, bring on some dried fruit & a couple of good muesli bars. Try to avoid stuff that's super sugary, instead go for slow releasing carbs such as rolled oat bars.

Women can and do tour the country solo.
If you can, find other women who ride bicycles in your area and ask what experiences they have had. Cycle the streets like you own the place, instead of appearing inexperienced and vulnerable. Use the same good judgment that gets you through in your hometown. Demonstrate confidence and be aware of your surroundings. It will help with managing motor traffic around yourself, too.safety tips for solo female cyclists

Take good care of your bike.
Lock your bike securely and in well-lighted areas, preferably close to the entrance of where you are going. When appropriate, take your bike inside with you. For any trip, you make regularly (commute, shopping, etc.), report maintenance problems along with your way, including burnt-out street lights.

Bike locks are a nuisance to use, and they really only slow down the casual thief. They're pretty easy to defeat, and once defeated, bikes are pretty easy to remove, and to sell. A lot of apartments don't come with adequate bike storage. A lot of offices and businesses don't, either.

Stay cautious and self-defensive.
Inattentive automobile drivers are still probably the greatest risk to your safety. The rules of the road are the same for you, as are the parts about riding predictably and evasive maneuvers.

Perfect and use the confident, polite, emphatic "No thank you." Be rude if you have to, always walk away if uncomfortable. Make a scene if you need to. If you shout, “STOP TOUCHING ME,” it is an unequivocal instruction to the creep who is touching you, and it alerts anyone around and gets them on your side.

There are malicious people everywhere and you are vulnerable because you are female and an outsider. These precautions help you get to a place where you can judge dangerous situations/people and then relax and enjoy those that are safe.

Don't tell anyone where you are staying or let someone walk you home unless you are 100% sure they are safe. If you’re making conversation with someone, you can say things like, “I’m headed to California” or “I ride 15 miles most days,” and be just as honest, without disclosing your origin and destination. In addition, ignore catcalls and anything shouted at you by drivers or passerby. They’re just words, however ugly or unwelcome. Don’t engage or encourage, just keep on pedaling.

A good rechargeable headlight is necessary besides being helpful for seeing and being seen at night, can also be used in self-defense. Likewise, a whistle and a U-lock can work too.safety tips for solo female cyclists

Keep in mind that you are a solo female cyclist.
When you travel alone, you have to think- I'm a female. Other people might see you as vulnerable. So the most important thing is to never forget you are a female. It is hard to get used to. You don't need to walk around thinking "I'm a female!!" - ever. If you need to ask directions, ask other women, people over 60, or merchants.

This all seems very prim and Victorian. To some, it might "ruin the experience." No. Being groped, molested, accosted, or threatened ruins the experience.

A woman has been in space and back. She has ventured into the world of business and politics, of media and sports. Every day, she has her path to carve in this big, bad, beautiful world. She is born a part of a never-ending race: a race with the world, a race against time, a race with others, a race with herself. Even thoughts and feelings race inside her. She runs to the blue horizon that she never reaches, away from herself, until one day she stops, too tired. If you’re that woman, then, the only way for you to escape the mind-numbing run of rat-race is, perhaps, to travel, alone, in the quest to find yourself. Do not get alarmed – there are many outfits that help a solo woman traveler find her way around the world.