As part of the British Cycling One In A Million campaign I have been sharing lots of stories not just from myself but other inspirational women and it has naturally generated discussion, which is great!
I also shared a picture on my social media last week discussing the phrase ‘on your right’ and again there were some comments that made me think I would write this post.
Until I started cycling and joined a club I was unaware of the cycling etiquette that plays a huge role in group cycling.
I am a member of Romford CC and we follow the guidelines laid out by British Cycling, which covers everything from Code of Conduct to hand signals. Most clubs should provide this sort of advice to their members and it doesn’t take long for this to be something you don’t even think about when group cycling. In fact I recently went away for a weekend hiking in the Peak District with a group of friends who for the most part were cyclists and as we walked and cars approached we would comment ‘car back’ and ‘car passing’. Yep we are that sad and what is worse is that we also laughed (we are also clearly hilarious).
The photo I earlier referred to was saying how my cycle commute is largely on a dedicated cycle path though as it is only wide enough for two bikes (one in each direction) there may be the situation to overtake and in doing so I should on your right to alert the person in front not only of my position but also my intention to overtake. It is not an aggressive shout but for safety. Anyway, another cyclist asked my why I had said that and that they’d heard it before but being new to cycling wasn’t sure if it meant they were to do something and said it was interesting to them to understand and learn all the nuances.
So why did it prompt this post? Well for two reasons as I became aware that although I know the group cycling etiquette that others may not and also because it was commented that the lingo could be a bit alienating for those not in the know, which is a fair point.
So what sort of things are covered when it comes to group cycling etiquette? Here I share some:
- Ensuring your bike is in good working order – standard.
- Communication – key to any group cycling, in fact I would say not just a group per se but key to riding any more than as a solo cyclist. Some calls I will often hear whilst cycling will include slowing, stopping, gravel, car up to warn of a car approaching, car back to warn of a car behind, car passing to warn that a car is overtaking and clear to let others know that it is clear to the left or right.
- Never overlap wheels – quite simple, if your wheel is overlapping the wheel in front slightly and they move to avoid an obstacle for example there will more than likely be an incident as the wheel in front will likely take yours out!
- Formation – despite common misconception the Highway Code advice says you should never ride more than two abreast. It also says you should ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends. You should always factor in the road conditions and should go into single file when necessary. There are many diagrams online that illustrate how it is actually easier for a car to pass a group of cyclists who are two abreast as opposed to a long line of single riders, however, as noted earlier common sense should be adopted depending on the circumstances.
- Be aware – it is all too easy to just follow the wheel in front, but as a cyclist in the group you have to accept the responsibility of being aware of your surroundings and other road users and pedestrians. Also good to be aware, especially down country lanes, of walkers and running that will be on your side of the road coming towards you.
- Be consistent – what I mean by this is that a consistent pace is much safer when in a group and this is not the place for speed intervals for example. Sudden increases and decreases in speed and power will result in erratic braking and is just not safe for group cycling. The term hold your line is often said.
- Horses – not everyone is aware but it’s important to pass horses steadily and safely and alert the rider so they are not startled either. It’s important not to freewheel as the sound it creates can often startle a horse.
- Mudguards – I love an obstacle run and being covered in mud but not everyone does especially on the bike and so mudguards are courteous to have especially in wet and winter conditions so the riders behind are not sprayed.
- Don’t use tri bars – unfortunately for some tri bars and group cycling do not go well together in terms of safety. Why? When riding a time trial (TT) bike or aerobars you do not always have the same control and cannot react in the same way without easy and quick access to the brakes. This is not an uncommon rule within a cycling club.
- Helmets – although helmets are not a legal requirement most clubs adopt a rule of no helmet, no ride.
- Lights – you must have front and rear lights, lit, clean and working properly, when cycling between sunset and sunrise. You cannot have a red light at the front of your bike or a white light at the rear and with regards to flashing lights, regulations now allow flashing lights, provided they flash between 60 and 240 times per minute.
- Abide the rules of the road – as a cyclist you are a vehicle on the road and should abide the same rules within the Highway Code.
Here I share some of the hand signals:
- Stop – hand raised straight up in the air
- Slow down – hand gesture to the side gently moving up and down
- Pointing downwards (sometimes done in a circular motion) – this is done to make riders behind aware of a possible obstacle in the road be that an item or a pothole for example
- Pointing behind your back – this indicates that there is an obstruction ahead and riders should move in the direction you are pointing, for example a parked car to the left you would point behind your back to the right to alert fellow riders behind to follow suit in the same direction
- Indicate – if you intend to turn left or right ensure you indicate for awareness of all other road users.
- Thumbs up – manners cost nothing and it is always nice to thank other road users in certain situations.
More information can be found on the British Cycling website here.