Road Etiquette for Group Rides and Bigger Event Rides
By Ian Buchanan
Riding a bike in a large group during an event ride means that a wide variety of riders of varied experience levels and riding speeds are on the road together. Inevitably, this complicates things a bit. Just like when driving a car, there are some “rules of the road” for cyclists riding in groups that can help everyone ride safely and comfortably and minimize the risk of accidents. Whether you are a newer rider or a seasoned veteran, here are some good fundamentals to remember:
- “On your left!” When passing, let people know that you are coming. If you are an experienced rider, remember that others may not ride in groups regularly and helping them out with a verbal warning of your presence goes a long way towards making sure they do not react unpredictably or run into you…
- Hand signals. Pointing where you are going and signaling when you are slowing or stopping helps other riders and drivers give you the room you want to remain safe.
- Hold your line. The more predictable you are in the group the easier it is for you as well as others. Don’t change your line without warning and keep your pace consistent without sudden slowing or stops. If you need to pull out of the group, be sure to signal and then proceed as predictably as possible off the travelled lane before getting off your bike.
- Point out road hazards. Others behind you may not be able to see beyond you well. Pointing out holes in the road, sand, etc. can help keep everyone safe and surprise free.
- Pacelines. In a successful paceline, the rider at the front takes their “pull” and then signals and moves to the left of the primary line (without slowing), allowing all the other riders in the paceline to pass, before pulling in at the back of the line. This mix of heavy effort combined with taking advantage of the aerodynamic benefit of the riders in front to rest can be very efficient and fast. Additional guidelines for safe paceline riding can be found at http://nycc.org/rides/paceline-technique. If you are not comfortable with riding in a paceline, a really big group ride may not be the place to learn.
- Ride your Bike: Don’t forget to ride! Running and other cross training is great, but there is no substitute for becoming a more aware and safer rider than just riding your bike and becoming comfortable in situations with other vehicles and riders. If you want to improve your bike handling skills and speed, find a local group to ride with regularly.
- “On your left!” No, this is not a mistake; it just bears repeating as this is the number one item that riders comment on regarding the etiquette of others at big event rides. If you are passing, let people know that you are there by simply saying, “On your left!” in a friendly, yet clear, manner. After all, safety is no accident…
Riding a bike in a group can be a really fun and safe experience, so abide by the basic rules of the road and have a great time!
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