Cycling In A Group

Oakley Pedalers is not a race club, but we are a safe club. We therefore enforce a policy of structured group riding in order to ensure that all riders have the best experience possible out on the road. All ride levels are completed with a ‘no drop policy’ in order to ensure that all participants return to Oakley.

When cycling in a group it is important to remember some simple guidance. I like to keep the three C’s at the forefront of my mind.

Communication: All riders need to communicate with each other when in the group. This means that approaching hazards are highlighted from the front of the group and warnings of cars overtaking are sent from the back. When riding on the front acknowledge messages passed from the back with a simple ‘thumbs up’. There are many other times that communication needs to take place (easing the pace, mechanical issues etc) but the main reason for communication is safety.

Calm: All riders should remain calm in ALL circumstances. When riding in a group any sudden movements or harsh braking can have serious consequences to those behind. When communication within the group is clear and accurate there should be no reason for sudden movements or braking.

Consideration: All riders should think about those around them. As noted above sudden movements or braking will directly affect those riders behind you. If you need to do something other than cycle  (eat, remove a jacket, remove gloves etc) then drop to the rear of the group if you are not comfortable doing so in the wheels. Communicate with the front of the group if you will need to stop in order to complete your task. If you need to stop without warning when riding in the middle of the group raise your hand and verbally communicate your next actions. Let the group filter past you before stopping.

 

Further to the basic three points above there is a general cycling ride etiquette that has developed over the years. I state again that we are not a race club, therefore some etiquette employed by other clubs is not applicable to OP. A simple search online of road cycling etiquette will reveal a vast array of ‘rules’. However below is a list of things that you should be practicing during OP club rides;

  1. When cycling with the club you are respresenting Oakley Pedalers. Your behaviour should reflect that of the image of the club, inclusive and non confrontational.
  2. Look after new riders. We were all there once, remember to be friendly and helpful.
  3. All rides work with a no drop policy.
  4. Only shout warnings when absolutely necessary. Hand signals should be adequate to bring hazards to the attention of others. Too many verbal warnings can become ‘white noise’.
  5. Only manage traffic if you are confident in doing so. In most circumstances concentrate on your cycling and let drivers make their own decisions.

 

As a nation we do not have a legal requirement to gain a license in order to ride a bicycle on the roads. This often means that people will join the club without firmly knowing the regulations surrounding bicycle use on public highways.

We are not going to cover all rules relating to cycling within the highway code, actually just the one. But this one aspect causes the most conjecture within the group rides while out on the road.

 

Two Abreast or Single File????

Highway Code: Rule 66 – You should

  • keep both hands on the handlebars except when signalling or changing gear
  • keep both feet on the pedals
  • never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends
  • not ride close behind another vehicle
  • not carry anything which will affect your balance or may get tangled up with your wheels or chain
  • be considerate of other road users, particularly blind and partially sighted pedestrians. Let them know you are there when necessary, for example, by ringing your bell if you have one. It is recommended that a bell be fitted.

The Highway Code is inherently ambiguous and is open to interpretation;

What constitutes a narrow road?

What constitutes a busy road?

When does a slight curve in the road become a bend?

 

As a club we are not seeking to rewrite the rule book. But we can make clearer the circumstances where we feel two abreast and single file riding are appropriate. This will hopefully reduce any confusion on the road for both us as cyclists and drivers around us.

Straight road – high level of visability for both car and cyclist. In nearly all circumstances riding two abreast is fine. However in the unlikely event of rear traffic build-up single file is a safe option. Oncoming cars will be able to see a pass taking place and all parties can position themselves on the road appropiately.

Cyclists can see oncoming obstructions, cars can see oncoming obstructions. Minimal deviation from linear travel is likely.

 

Twisty Road – In this example any guess work has been removed. Double white lines indicate that overtaking is prohibited. STAY TWO ABREAST. Riding single up will encourage a pass in a potentially dangerous position which could result in oncoming traffic being present and the cyclists being squeezed in to the kerbside (see diagram).

Cyclists are unable to see short to medium distance obstructions. Drivers are unable to see oncoming traffic. Low levels of visibility from vehicles joining from side roads. Sudden changes of direction highly likely.

Grey Areas – In circumstances where the cyclists’ need to make a decision (bends in the road, broken centre line) deference to the safest option should be made. In the examples below it is difficult to ensure a safe pass due to hidden sections of road, therefore remain two abreast and discourage a potentially dangerous overtake. Attempt to safely let vehicles pass as soon as safely possible after this section of road.

Lanes – Riding at a steady pace through lanes two abreast is relatively low risk. Communication from the front and rear of the group is highly important in order to facilitate the group riding single file when required. The rear of the group should acknowledge the presence of a car to the driver, front of the group should signal when passing opportunity is available.

Riding at higher pace through lanes raises the risk levels and should be in single file only. Communication is of even higher importance during ‘at pace’ riding.

 

Two Abreast vs Single Row

Riding two abreast minimises the length of time required for a safe overtake.  Groups should not mix two abreast and single file. All members of the group should be riding in the same format, with minimal spread from front to back, get on those wheels!!

Splitting The Group

Sometimes it may be required to split a large group while on the road. The diagram shows 12 riders which even when riding tightly are difficult to pass. By splitting the group to create 2 x 6 riders we can create a overtaking hop between the groups. Group B should manage a gap of 100-200 metres from group A. This will be enough to follow the ride route and also allow multiple cars to utilise the hopping space. Riders must make this decision on the road and communicate to the front group of their intention, this will prevent the front group thinking that they need to wait for the rear group to catch up.

 

Traffic Management

As touched on earlier we don’t expect anyone participating in a club ride to actively advise cars on when it is safe to overtake. This is simply in order to ensure liability is not enforced on the club or individual should an incident take place. We do however advise that riders at the rear of groups acknowledge the presence of vehicles behind the group. By raising your hand to a waiting vehicle and acknowledging their presence you are making the driver aware that you have seen them and experience tells me that this goes a long way to negating potential issues. The rear rider should also make the group aware of waiting traffic (car up/ car behind) and may need to request the group to ‘tighten up’ in order to help the driver see past the group.

Ensure an overtaking vehicle is declared to the group by means of a verbal warning. When the road is clear behind then the rear rider should also confirm this which will allow the group to relax a little.

 

***IMPORTANT – If a verbal warning has been issued stating that vehicles are waiting no changes to front riders should take place.***

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