As our group has steadily grown, we now regularly find ourselves riding in quite a large group.
Quite a different experience to solo riding or just a few riders.
As a rider in that group we all have a few responsibilities in looking out for each other. Just adopting a few shouts or hand signals we can ride smoother and closer together. We can also ride a little safer along the busier sections of our rides. So below is a look at a few of the problems facing us when we're out & about, then at the bottom, there's a section well worth a read called Shouts & Signals
So what's the point and why closer together
Riding in a group, generally moving slower than traffic we're creating an obstruction to free flowing traffic. Now some may say we have a right to be there and I'm certainly not going to argue with that thought. On the other hand if as a group we can ride in a way that promotes harmony between all road users we not only ride safer as a group, but we can also help in promoting awareness of each other on the road in a positive sense and try and reverse the antipathy between cyclists and drivers.
I cycle regularly and I've driven for more years than I want to remember, so below are 2 tables with what I see as the top 5 common complaints from both road users with 2, 4 or more wheels.
Cyclists far too often ride 3 or 4 abreast Drivers pass far too close
Cyclists ride through red lights when it suits them Drivers become very impatient if they can't pass quickly
Cyclists don't even pay road tax Drivers feel they own the road because they pay the road tax
Cyclists can be very aggressive Drivers can be very aggressive
Cyclists weave through traffic, and ride on pavements Drivers often block my path along a cycle lane, forcing me to weave around queuing traffic
We're not that different are we, each body have their own complaints about other road users
Cars, vans, trucks motorbikes & cyclists - what's the common denominator?
We all share the same road space - let's do our bit as a group and ride as a group
- Stay close - This doesn't necessarily mean riding inches off the wheel in front, but by riding that little bit closer we're reducing the amount of time drivers need to be out of their lane to pass us.
- Be aware of the back marker - Our ethos as a group is that we ride as slow as is required on that day, this is fine but if we're strung out over several hundred meters it becomes more difficult for the driver to overtake us in 1 move, forcing them more often to pull in half way down the line and make the overtaking manoeuvre a 2 or 3 process. So if you're at the front in the busier sections of our rides, slow down, re-group and ride through these sections as close as is safe to do so.
- Two abreast - This is often the most contentious of all things cyclists can do, I've devoted a complete page to this in our Riding & Keeping Safe section. Basically, done right this is often the safest way for us to travel, done wrong it's often the quickest way to create a situation. When we ride 2 abreast we should be as close together as we can comfortably ride, and only when the roads allow us to do so, busier sections or narrow roads, single out and let traffic pass, but stay close as we do then drivers will be able to complete the move in one pass
- Car up - on narrow sections of road, a warning shout to riders behind of an approaching car
- Car back - on narrow sections of road, a warning shout from the back markers to riders in front
- Slowing or Stopping - a warning shout to riders behind when the pace is about to alter or stop, stopping is usually reinforced with a raised hand
- Hand straight up in the air - stopping for a junction, a puncture or some other obstruction
- Hand straight out right/left - making a turn to the right or left
- Hand out to the side patting a dog - slowing slightly or just easing back a little
- Hand pointing directly down - indicating an obstruction or a pot hole, something to be avoided
- Hand behind the back pointing left or right - a warning of an upcoming obstruction that the group needs to move out to avoid, parked cars, pedestrians in road
Shouts & Signals
The above are the most universally used shouts & signals adopted by cycling groups