Rules for the Road
10 TIPS FOR SAFE GROUP RIDING
Based on the principles taught in the League of American Bicyclists effective cycling program
1. BE PREDICTABLE ~~ Group riding requires even more attention to predictability than riding alone. Other riders expect you to continue straight ahead at a constant speed unless you indicate differently.
2. USE SIGNALS ~~ Use hand and verbal signals to communicate with members of the group and with other traffic. Hand signals for turning and stopping are as follows: left arm straight out to signal a left turn; left arm out and down with your palm to the rear to signal slowing or stopping; and for a right turn, put your right arm straight out or put your left arm out and up.
3. GIVE WARNINGS ~~ Warn cyclists behind you well in advance of changes in your direction or speed. To notify the group of a change in path, the lead rider should call out “left turn” or “right turn” in addition to giving a hand signal.
4. CHANGE POSITIONS CORRECTLY ~~ Generally, slower traffic stays right, so you should try to pass others on their left. Say “on your left” to warn the cyclist ahead that you are passing. If you need to pass someone on the right, say “on your right” clearly since this is an unusual maneuver.
5. ANNOUNCE HAZARDS ~~ When riding in a group, most of the cyclists do not have a good view of the road surface ahead so it is important to announce holes, glass, gravel, grates, and other hazards. The leader should indicate road hazards by pointing down to the left or right, and by shouting “hole,” “bump,” etc. where required for safety.
6. WATCH FOR TRAFFIC COMING FROM THE REAR ~~ Since those in front cannot see traffic approaching from the rear, it is the responsibility of the riders in back to inform the others by saying “car back.” Around curves, on narrow roads, or when riding double, it is also helpful to warn of traffic approaching from the front with “car up.”
7. WATCH OUT AT INTERSECTIONS ~~ When approaching intersections that require vehicles to yield or stop, the lead rider will say “slowing” or “stopping” to alert those behind to the change in speed. When passing through and intersection, some cyclists say “clear” if there is no cross traffic. This is a dangerous practice that should be abandoned. It encourages riders to follow the leader, letting others do their thinking for them. Each cyclist is responsible for verifying that the way is indeed clear.
8. LEAVE A GAP FOR CARS ~~ When riding up hills or on narrow roads where you are impeding faster traffic, leave a gap for cars between every three or four bicycles. That way a motorist can take advantage of shorter passing intervals and eventually move piecemeal around the entire group.
9. MOVE OFF THE ROAD WHEN YOU STOP ~~ Whether you are stopping because of mechanical problems or to regroup with your companions, move well off the road so you don’t interfere with traffic. When you start up again, each cyclist should look for, and yield to, traffic.
10. RIDE ONE OR TWO ACROSS ~~ Ride single file or double file as appropriate to the roadway and traffic conditions and where allowed by law. Most state vehicle codes permit narrow vehicles such as bicycles and motorcycles to ride double file within the lane. Even where riding double is legal, courtesy dictates that you single up when cars are trying to pass you.