Be Safe

Every once in awhile, I read something in the news that hits home and reminds me how important safety is. It’s easy to go about the day without giving it much thought. Over the last few months there have been a few incidents on the Springwater Trail here in Portland. The most recent was that a woman was pushed off her bike by a strange man:

“My wife was pushed off of her bike on spring water east of Powell Butte. Around 8:30 PM 8/6/12. Thought the community should know. She was not robbed. She got back on her bike and rode off. Two white males in t-shirts and jeans.”

I’m glad she was okay and not assaulted or robbed. It’s scary because I bike the Springwater all the time. I told myself I shouldn’t be worried because she was biking at night–something I never do–but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be more cautious when I’m out by myself.

Safety Tips

A lot of the safety tips are common sense things. For example, if you get a flat tire out on your bike, pull over somewhere that looks safe with people around and not a dark alley.  Biking at night is not for me. It’s not safe and I avoid it. Sometimes people can’t avoid riding at night because it’s their only form of transportation. Have a good, bright light on your bike and be safe!

The following are some more tips that I’ve been told or discovered along the way.


Something that sticks with me in regards to cycling safety is a tip that Michael shared with me. He told me that we should have the lightest bike we can afford and the heaviest bike pump we can find. Why? Because a bike pump can be used as a weapon if need be. Every once in awhile, Michael reminds me to “always take your bike pump” on rides. Not just for flat tires, but self-defense. It’s a good trick and there have been a few times where I rode by some sketchy people on the Springwater and I was glad I had my bike pump just in case. Another reason: dogs. Luckily this hasn’t happened to me, but some cyclist friends have told me stories of dogs chasing them and trying to bite them. Bike pump.


A few years ago I finally made the transition to clip-in cycling shoes. When I was shopping for them I knew I wanted mountain biking shoes. Sure they were heavier and bigger, but they were also shoes I could walk in. At the time, it was because I wanted to be able to walk in my cycling shoes in case I got a flat tire.


But shoes like these are also something I can RUN in if I need to. The other kind of cycling shoes are smooth and flat on the bottom and so slick I can barely walk, let alone run.


I bought some runner’s pepper spray awhile ago and I have no idea why it didn’t occur to me to also carry it on my bike. Just in case.

Updated to add: If you work somewhere it might be an issue, be sure to talk to your boss about carrying pepper spray on you.


The line of work I’m in makes me cynical, hyper aware at all times and suspicious of strangers on the street. Sad, but true. Because of this, I am always aware of what’s going on around me. I look around, I pay attention to people around me, I try not to listen to my headphones too loudly when I’m out walking or running.


Tell people where you are biking and how long you expect to be gone. Same goes for all activities you do alone–hiking, running, etc. It’s just a good idea.


Don’t ride near sketchy people. Easier said than done sometimes. There are parts of the Springwater Trail that are the places the Portland homeless camp. I’ve never had an issue with someone on the trail but you just never know.  I do my best to bike through these areas as fast as my legs will take me.


It’s funny, I’ll bike on the Springwater trail alone, but I would never ever run there by myself. A lot of my friends feel the same way.

* * *

My goal for this post was not to scare people or be super paranoid, but it’s something to think about. Practicing safe biking and running habits is always a good idea, even if the area you are in is safe.

QUESTION: What are your safety tips?

Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

20 thoughts on “Be Safe”

    1. It is scary. And I’m sure it’s more common than we think. It’s not just safety for bikers, but runners and walkers too.

      Good addition–I should have added always carry a cellphone and ID. Thanks.

  1. These are great tips. I do a lot of solitary cycling, so I try to be extra vigilant. My big tip is to *always* tell someone your route. Doesn’t matter who – just so someone knows where to start to look if you don’t show up.
    Lori recently posted..Good and bad foods

    1. I don’t worry too much about safety when I ride with Michael. But when I bike to work by myself, I do think about safety more. I am much more aware of my surroundings, I’m on the defense when I pass by people that look sketchy, etc. Great tip about sharing your route.

  2. I’m a runner and not a cyclist, but I definitely abide by a lot of these tips. I carry pepper spray on every outdoor run I go on, primarily to defend myself against dogs if I have to. I also don’t run with music unless I’m on the treadmill or in a race to help keep myself more aware of my surroundings. And, when I’m running outside I try to wear really brightly colored shirts to make myself extra visible.
    Beth recently posted..Tired after 12 (Miles)

  3. Great tips! Bike safety is so important. I also have a Red LED bike light that I use clipped to me seat pack..even in the day time so cars see me sooner. I also have a road ID and if I’m by myself I stay in areas that I would be seen and ALWAYS have my RoadID on! Most times I put my cell phone in my back pocket in a little baggy too.
    Katie @ Katie Moves recently posted..Last Things Thursday

    1. Another good tip I forgot! I also have that same Red LED light and I always have it on when I’m biking in traffic, not so much when I’m on the trails. But I have the light on even when it’s bright outside. Just in case.

  4. The Springwater is a long trail and varies a lot–I’ve been walking and running the Gresham end of it (getting on near 242nd) regularly for about 9 years, and I’ve never felt unsafe. There are homeless camps along the trail and though I certainly encounter homeless people I’ve never felt threatened by them. This section of the trail is so heavily used that I’m rarely alone out there–even before 6am!

    1. It is very long and I personally have never had any issues. I just bring up the parts of the trail that are sketchy and unsafe. When I ride in the mornings to work there is hardly anyone on the trail. However, there is an offshoot of the Springwater that goes up to Sellwood (it’s that nature preserve) where some women runners have been attacked. I avoid that stretch as much as possible, especially alone.

  5. I don’t bike, but I was walking around our neighborhood for a short time. There were certain streets I did not go down- ever. And tonight, while I was in my craft room which is almost on the alley behind our house, someone was shot and killed in a drive by just a few houses down. Things like that is why my bf refused to take an offered management position again after they demoted him because it would have been on swing shift and he didn’t want me here alone at all. And this happened early evening- it was still broad daylight. Yeah, this happened on one of the worst streets in our neighborhood- but that street is the very next one over form us. I’m done walking around here. There’s always a treadmill.
    Deb recently posted..Wednesday Day 313 & Thursday Day 314

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge