Safety is an important issue when traveling into unfamiliar areas to trail ride. This web site makes no claims of knowing what areas are safe or unsafe along Ohio trails. Instead a common sense approach is used here.
Generally you'll find more locals using any trail you visit and their habits can tell you a lot. Being familiar with the area, they tend to park in places they feel are convenient and safe. Therefore, the term popular is used to describe these preferred parking spots.
Trailhead descriptions and trail maps are just that. They are provided to show you dedicated parking areas and trailheads, along with other information. However, that's not to suggest that all trail facilities and locations are equally safe. Use your own judgment regarding safety and contact local officials in the area you wish to ride if you require additional safety info.
Trail Signs & Kiosks
Pay attention to the information on trail signs and kiosks. Along with maps and other useful info, some provide maintainence and local law enforcement phone numbers. 911 is of course the universal emergency hotline. But you may encounter problems that are non-emergency in nature. Keep the numbers and a cell phone with you on your ride.
One should never become too complacent as crimes can occur on bikeways. Be aware of that fact and be more prepared by following these safety tips:
- Shy away from empty parking lots with broken glass or other negative indicators. Opt for the lot with trail user activity and open surroundings.
- Walk, skate or ride with someone or in a group. There is safety in numbers.
- Be aware of your surroundings on the trail as well, particularly when alone. Jamming with your headset blasting your favorite tunes is not a good way to hear someone approaching you from behind.
- Carry protection. Some cyclists use pepper spray to deal with unruly dogs on the road. The spray is carried in a manner where it can be quick-drawn when necessary. Since most of us don't have a black belt in karate, the spray may also be used when someone intends to do us harm.
- Do some research before you trek through unfamiliar places. Get some local insight about the area from someone who lives there or is very familiar with the bikeway.
- Perhaps a co-worker has a family member or friend that lives near a trail you wish to explore. Knowledgeable, active locals are perhaps your best resource while paranoid, uniformed folks can be your worst. You may also want to contact local officials in the area. Do your homework and then take someone with you on your first visit.
- Carry a cell phone. No, it probably won't help you fend off an attacker, but it may help you help someone else by reporting a crime quickly. (It also comes in handy in case of an accident or mechanical failure.)
Secure Your Vehicle
Don't risk your valuables by not securing your car properly.
Lock your doors, roll up your windows and keep anything valuable out of sight.
There may be someone watching you as you exit your vehicle. (Yes, there are people that troll lots looking for easy pickings.) Therefore do not demonstrate where you've concealed valuables. If you feel you have to leave a purse in the trunk or wallet in the glove box, do so before you arrive at the trailhead.
Removing your helmet or other gear from the trunk where other valuables are clearly visible, is a no-no.
More Guidelines & Tips
Being safe on the trails also means being prepared to avoid accidents and prevent hardships. To maximize the enjoyment potential of your next trail ride, check out these Trail Riding Tips & Guidelines before heading out.