Riding etiquette
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Riding etiquette

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Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 11
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Recent comments on the clubs WhatsApp groups have started a discussion about cycling etiquette and it is suggested that it would be more appropriate to discuss this at a meeting. Prior to that meeting I think it would be helpful if the topic was discussed more fully here as meetings are on the whole poorly attended and, from past experience, the content of the discussion is often ignored or immediately forgotten.

Personally I’ve been unhappy for a while about the way “we” conduct ourselves on public roads when out on group rides and all my comments so far have fallen on deaf ears. To the extent that I tend to ride only in small groups these days or, more recently, on my own.

During the last few weekends I’ve covered ground not usually ridden by any of us, to the extreme north, east and south eastern parts of Cornwall. I started to get a real feel about how cyclists are now seen by the motor driving public following the recent changes in the Highway Code. On the whole the change has been for the better with most drivers being more patient and giving more space when overtaking. However, some less confident and timid drivers, often uncertain of the new guidance, are reluctant to pass at all on a small country lane, even when the road ahead looks clear. They figure that the road is insufficiently wide to pass safely - and given the new guidance they are right, as a cyclist needs 2 meters + space. ( 500mm from edge of road, width of bike and the safe passing distance of 1500mm). To this extent the guidance just doesn’t work. We have to recognise this and find a suitable stopping place to allow the car or cars to pass. A main road with solid white lines in the centre often presents the same problem. More cyclists are using cameras and cars that are reluctant to overtake are not necessarily driven by timid drivers but possibly drivers who have already been convicted or cautioned for a close pass - not forgetting that some of the convicted drivers would also be cyclists! ( Though I think that vehicles are allowed over a solid white line when overtaking slow moving traffic?? )

The new guidance is there to help us as cyclists and we have to be (more) respectful to car drivers for making our experience on the roads safer. We need to be aware of all that is happening around us - which is sadly something cyclists are very poor at, particularly new cyclists. You should be able to turn your head, maybe along with part of your upper body, sufficient to get a snap shot of what is behind. This can be followed by standing and taking a longer look. Mirrors are really useful too for someone with restricted neck movement, but as in cars, unless you are monitoring continuously what is happening behind it is always advised to glance behind as well.

Regarding Pathfinders. Credit should be given to anyone willing to organise a day out for the club, and as a ride leader, there is little they can do to organise the “troops” behind and they need to have help - two or three stronger riders to pass information down the line - and a sweeper or two.

Finding somewhere out of the way to stop whilst the ride comes together might present one of the biggest challenges - this could be considered beforehand- or someone sent ahead to find a suitable spot. “Helpers” could wear fluorescent arm bands.

Though it takes something away from the “mystery” of the ride it would be helpful if the route was put on the website for people to view ( in addition to any gpx/tcx files ) so that anyone with one of the Croyde cycling maps of Cornwall ( I think the club has copies for sale ) can mark the route with a highlighter pen. This is then useful for any future rides with friends and family.

As I’ve already mentioned, it is essential that we maintain good relations with motorists. It is my opinion ( and this is not shared by everyone ) that we ride in groups of three, no more than four, and the rider at the rear of each group calls the shots! A gap of say twenty meters between each group also provides stepping stones for cars behind to overtake if the width of the road allows. In my view, a string of twenty riders in a small country lane just doesn’t work. Sensibly the quicker riders go ahead and the slowest bring up the rear.

I’m sure there are others who would like to express their own views and bring to light some of the difficulties they frequently encounter when out cycling.




New Member
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 3

I concur with most of what Robin has said. Practically how do we put this into action that makes cycling safer for us and a better interaction with our fellow road users?

I'm just going to throw some ideas out there which then can be debated.

As far as group sizes go and this might be different depending on the road, 4 seems a manageable number if riding on the wheel which I'm quite experienced at! Less experienced riders maybe only 3 riders who don't cycle too close together. So already a bit of a quandary. Am I happy riding on the wheel, I don't know!

The gap between groups?  I would argue the gap should be more than 20 metres. More often than not there is more than one car that wants to overtake so a bigger gap is needed. Also if the groups are too close together a driver might be tempted to overtake both groups in one manoeuvre.

One of the biggest skills needed as a cyclist is concentration. Looking and listening are the greatest attributes we have, so we need to use them. I know we are a social riding club but there is time for both but not necessarily together. When on the bike we need to be aware of what is going on around us. This could be your fellow cyclists, motor vehicles, horses, pedestrians, the list is endless.

Communication is also key. If the rider at the back is aware of a car wanting to get passed this needs to be conveyed down the line so the lead rider can look for a pull in. If we're all having a bit of a chat and not listening it's not going to happen! One pissed off driver! Last Sunday on the way into St Agnes I was leading a group of 3 when I looked back to see a bus behind. When I saw a suitable place I called "pulling in" and we let the bus pass and a cheery wave from the driver, a positive experience for everyone concerned.

Another bugbear for me is riders grouping on a junction waiting for others to catchup. This makes it difficult for drivers to manoeuvre around and impede their visibility.

We all need to take personal responsibility for the way we ride. 

As and when I think of more I'll post! We need to have everyone's view on this so please contribute.

Amanda Hudson
Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 2

Thanks for the comments so far. I am compiling a set of guidelines. One is for Group Riding and the other is Pathfinder Guidelines.
I've added it to the Agenda for the next meeting. I'll comment on it generally and share the views so far but I'd like some people to stay after the meeting to discuss it further and come up the final draft. I can then circulate to all members.
I'll do a bit more research to see what others are doing ie other Clubs and Cycling UK etc