Group Riding Etiquette
by Pierre Avignon
The group-riding experience is greatly enhanced if participants are considerate, have the appropriate skills and knowledge, and in general conduct themselves in a way that helps all to have a pleasant and safe experience.
The following guidelines can help:
Be prepared: Read the ride description carefully. Is the pace and distance right for you? Is it a follow-the leader ride, a fitness ride, or can you ride at your own pace, following arrows and a cue sheet?
Be ready: The day before the ride, check that your bike is in good mechanical order, and gather all equipment and accessories you will need. This helps avoid any last-minute surprises that might delay the start of the ride, or... leave you behind.
Be punctual: Allow enough time for you to unload your bike, put on your shoes and helmet, do a quick pre-ride bike check, and be ready to listen to the ride leader’s instructions, five or ten minutes before the start.
Ask questions: Ask the ride leader about specific details before the ride leaves.
Be supportive: Reach out to newcomers. Help answer questions that other riders may have, offer help if a rider has a flat or other mechanical problem. During the ride, someone could have difficulty keeping up the pace, and might appreciate some pointers. Remember, we are a social club that seeks to offer a congenial atmosphere for cyclists of all levels.
Be predictable: Predictability is one of the most important elements of road safety. Other riders and motorists expect you to maintain a consistent lane position and speed, unless you signal otherwise.
Be visible: Wear bright or at least light colors, use lighting at night and in low visibility, ride further to the left through intersections (where motorists are more likely to see you).
Be alert: Constantly scan the road ahead, as far as you can see, rather than staring at the wheel in front of you. Stop and refuel, walk or just sit around when you feel too tired to maintain a safe level of alertness. The risk of crashing greatly increases as attention wanes and alertness fades.
Follow the rules of the road: Riding by the same set of rules as motorists (as required by law) greatly reduces your risk of a crash. For information on Massachusetts Laws, see: http://massbike.org/bikelaw/ and the Driver’s Manual: http://www.mass.gov/rmv/dmanual/index.htm.
Communicate with the group: Use hand signals prior to turning, slowing or stopping. If you need both hands on the bars for stability (such as when the pavement is rough), use voice signals instead.. Point out hazards for riders following you, such as holes, cracks, sand, rocks, trash, glass, etc. Shout “bumps”, “runner-up”, etc. when you need to keep both hands on the bars.
While at the back of the group, announce traffic coming from the rear: “Car Back!”. While at the front on a narrow road, use “Car-Up!” to announce traffic approaching from the front.
While approaching an intersection, warn riders of traffic coming from all directions. However, we do not recommend that you shout “All Clear” in the absence of a hazard, as traffic conditions can change in an instant.
Call out “On your left” when passing others, but from a distance and with a calm voice to avoid startling the rider.
Pass with a safe clearance - three feet or more. Remember, the cyclist you are passing might have to swerve to avoid a pothole or other hazard.
Use discretion with all warnings as they tend to lose their significance as hazards and traffic intensify. Most of the time, pointing is more effective than shouting. Reserve voice signals for emergencies.
Ride with safety and courtesy as your guideline: Ride single file when traffic approaches from the rear, when climbing, around curves and as appropriate to the roadway and traffic conditions.
Do not draft someone without prior consent, and ask the same of fellow riders. When drafting, never overlap your front wheel with the rear wheel of the rider ahead. Look ahead of the rider you are drafting instead of staring at his/her rear wheel.
When stopping, move well off the road-both for your safety and to avoid interfering with traffic flow. While regrouping, leaders should choose a location with sufficient space for all riders to get well off the road.
Provide positive feedback to the group, and constructively mention your concerns if an unsafe situation has occurred. Include yourself in the appraisal while expressing what could have been done to avoid the situation.
Safety is about choices, what choices will you make?
Inspired by a publication of the Oklahoma Bicycle Society (http://www.oklahomabicyclesociety.com/hintstips/groupride.htm)
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