1. Safety and Risk Management
a) All riders take part in group rides at their own risk.
b) Observe the Highway Code at all times.
c) You’re responsible for your safety so ensure that your bike is road-worthy, that you are wearing appropriate clothing and that you’re confident riding on the open roads.
d) Good quality working front and rear lights are essential and are a legal requirement at certain times of the day.
e) Wearing a helmet is a good idea but is a personal choice and is not a legal or club requirement.
f) Don’t overlap. It’s okay to leave a bit of a gap to the wheel ahead and even to ride slightly to one side of it. However, always avoid overlapping your front wheel with the rear wheel of the rider in front as, if they have to swerve to avoid a hazard or just have a lapse in concentration, they’ll take out your wheel.
You can ride two abreast where it as safe to do so but never on busy A-roads and always be prepared to single out when necessary. Never ride more than two abreast.
g) Be very cautious when “waving through” a following vehicle that is waiting to overtake – it is advisable to let the driver make this decision. This will avoid the risk of being held responsible if the overtaking results in any form of accident.
h) Try not to react to bad or potentially dangerous behaviour with gestures or bad language as this can provoke unpredictable reactions. A witness or witnesses to bad road use should be obtained whenever possible.
i) Consider personal Third Party (Public Liability) Insurance that covers you whilst cycling. Cycling UK or British Cycling membership includes both Third Party Insurance and free legal assistance should you need to claim against someone else.
2. Etiquette for Riding in Groups
a) Ride steadily. Keep a steady line and constant speed. Any sudden change is magnified as it reaches riders at the back and so can have dramatic consequences.
b) No racing. You can race to your heart’s content in organised competitive events but not on group rides. Also riding off the front puts pressure on the ride leader and makes it more difficult to keep the group safe and together.
c) Treat members of the group and other road users with courtesy. Acknowledge with a wave courteous behaviour by other road users.
d) Be aware of any traffic building up behind the group and try to allow gaps into which passing traffic may slot or use passing places to allow vehicles to pass. Remember to use the appropriate warning calls.
e) Ride with a group which best suits your ability. If you join a particular group let others know if you are struggling to keep up. If one or more riders cannot match the pace of the rest of the group the Road Captain or leader for the day needs to know as this can affect the morale and motivation of individuals or the group as a whole.
3. Warning Calls When Riding in a Group
a) “Car back” There is a vehicle coming up behind the group.
b) “Car up” There is a vehicle approaching towards the front of the group.
c) “Single out” A call from riders at the back of the group when a vehicle is unable to pass safely. This call must be relayed forward by everyone to ensure that the move to single file is executed quickly and safely. The standard procedure is for the outside rider to drop back behind the inside rider.
d) “Clear” and “Car” on Left/Right” This call lets following riders know at junctions, when the group is joining or crossing another road, whether or not the road is still clear. If the group cannot stay together the first ones across ride slowly until the others catch up.
e) “Hole” Any pothole that could cause a rider to fall. If possible indicate where it is so that following riders can steer away from it and not into it. Do this by either pointing or adding to the call “on the left (or right).”
f) “On the Left/Right” A general warning of some kind of hazard – usually parked cars or pedestrians. For hazards on the left, an alternative warning is to put your left hand behind your back, pointing to the right, away from the hazard.
g) “Stopping” “Slowing” “Easy” or right hand moving in an up and down action. If you brake without letting those behind know your intention they can easily run into you.
h) “Puncture” Let the others know and they will wait while you repair it. (You will probably be given help).
i) “Horse(s)” The group is about to pass horses and special care is needed. Pass as widely as possible. Make sure that both the horse and rider are aware of your presence. Keep pedalling slowly as you pass to keep noise from your freewheel and gears to a minimum” Pay attention to any request by the horse rider – they know the temperament of the horse and its likely reactions.