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Two abreast or not two abreast


Riding 2 abreast, probably one of the most contentious issues between cyclists and motorists.


The comments I hear more often than not is "Cyclists..... why do they think they own the road, and why do they have to cycle 3 or 4 abreast."

Possibly an exaggeration but nevertheless, one thing is certain nothing infuriates more than cyclists riding 2 abreast and holding up traffic. So lets have a look at the plus & minus side of this age old style of riding that can even sometimes place us in very grave danger.


  • It's safer to ride in this manner
  • It allows motorists to overtake quicker
  • It's more sociable


So from the top :- 

By riding 2 abreast when road conditions allow means that cars can't just squeeze by in the same lane, forcing you into the gutter. Instead they are forced to pass you in a proper manner and allows you more room and saftey.

By riding 2 abreast when road conditions allow it means the motorist can pass you generally in half the time it would take if we was to single out. By so doing, the car will be on the opposite side of the road half the time. See the diagram below which is indicating how much time the car is spending on the opposite side of the road when passing a singled out and 2 abreast group of cyclists.

By Riding 2 abreast when road conditions allow, it's more sociable. I have yet to meet a grumpy cyclist who doesn't like having the opportunity of having a chat, and after all don't car drivers chat away to their passengers whilst driving? We as cyclists are no different. When we're out for us it's a social time from start to finish and chatting away is what often attracts cyclists to our beloved past time in the first place.


  • Narrow country lanes
  • Narrow town roads
  • Busy roads
  • Passing parked cars
  • When passing bollards/center islands
  • When riding in this manner is likely to inhibit the free flow of traffic

So a few more than the pluses but ridden in a respectful & common sense way, there's not that many times we won't be able to ride in this way. A few basic principles will see us all ride safely without frustrating the motorist, which after all could result in the absolute worst case scenario with catastrophic consequences.

What we need to know when riding in this manner is when to twist or when to fold, single out or ride double and we need to be aware of the road layout, traffic around us and lets be proactive in promoting cycling and driving together without conflict. If shout of car back comes down the line and you're 2 up just assess if your OK to be there, if your in doubt single out for a bit, before long it becomes second nature and our aim is to go out as a group but more importantly come back as a group.

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