Question: What safety measures do you take when traveling on a bicycle? How do you try to stay safe on the road and keep from being ran over by cars and trucks? How do you subvert malicious locals or kids throwing stones? How do you prevent your bicycle from being stolen when you go into a shop for food? What are your strategies for completing a long distance bike journey in one piece with your gear still intact?
Safety on a bike is about taking as many precautions as you can and the rest is just luck. Follow the basic rules of having lights on your bike when it gets dark, try to wear high visibility clothes and carry a chain and padlock for the bike.
To prevent things getting stolen while you are inside a shop you should chain the bike to something near the entrance of the store. Unless you are going to hide it in a spot nobody would possibly come across it, you are best leaving it in a place where lots of people will pass by and a theif might be put off stealing it in full view of everyone. The next step is to keep everything of value in a bag that you can take with you when you leave the bike. If somebody does help themselves to your belongings while you are gone they will not get anything that cannot be replaced easily. If you have large valuable items that you must leave with the bike like an expensive tent or sleeping bag, bury them at the bottom of your bags and hope the thief does not have time to dig that deep.
Following these procedures has so far prevented anything major from being stolen on my trips. The only malicious behaviour I have experienced has been at the hands of children. A bottle of water taken by some gypsie kids in Romania and the odd group of 10 year old boys have thrown some rocks. Riding a bicycle through someones country attracts far more positive attention then it does negative. You will be more likely to have cars slow down to give you a thumbs up then to run you off the road. You will receive more free food thrust in your face than you will rocks. Take basic precautions, but dont think everyone is out to get you.
Luke is a long distance bicycle traveler who has criss-crossed the continents. He is available to answer your questions about bicycle travel by submitting them at Ask Bicycle Travel Questions.