Rider Communications and Etiquette

Rider Communications, or "What is all that shouting about??!!"

I usually run through the following communications before each ride, and they have been helpfully summarised by one of the ladies, Jane.

"The following was written after my thumb was bent back rather painfully when someone had cause to slow down without warning.

So to avoid a similar mishap happening to others, I include below a guide to the peculiar cries and arm waving of cyclists that might prevent others meeting a similar fate (OK it would have helped if I hadn’t been looking at the view. But a simple cry of ‘easy’ may have saved the day).

‘Car Up’ - There’s a vehicle coming up from behind, so single out, having made sure you have made space / there is space to pull in;

‘Car Down’ - There’s a vehicle coming down towards you, so pull in if road is narrow or there is also a ‘car up’;

‘Stopping’ - I am stopping (so don’t ride into the back of me);

‘Easy’ - I am slowing down (voluntarily or involuntarily), so don’t clip my wheel and send us tumbling;

‘Coming Through’ - I (another cyclist) is coming past you (‘on your left’ if rider is in centre of road and you are cutting inside); ( note: it is usual practice and probably safer to pass on the right, or outside, of another rider.)

‘On your Left/Right’ - There are walkers / car / dogs / other obstruction at side of road;

‘Pot’ or ‘Pothole’ - Uneven road surface;

Arm waggling or Finger pointing - Uneven road surface or drain cover."

These instructions apply equally on cycleways, or shared use pathways such as the Millenium Greenway, as they do on the open road.  The other important thing to point out is that the message needs to be conveyed clearly to the back (or front) of the group, so that everyone is aware of hazards.

There is another one, which we hope not to have to use -

'Puncture'  - means "i have rapidly lost or am losing the air from one of my tyres and I am going to have to stop and fix it".  The group may need to find a suitable safe location to watch/ help/ offer supportive comments/ take photos.

Arm waving behind the back - means that there is a hazard, and you may need to move out eg parked car.

If you can think of any others, or have heard one and not sure what it means, please post a comment below.

I have found this page of Cycling etiquette on another ladies cycling website - it explains nicely about group riding - (link removed)

Gate etiquette.

Rider holds the gate and allows group to pass through
The April 2011 ride saw us following route 56 with a track that has about 7 gates along its length.  If each member in the whole group opens each gate and hold-pass to the one behind, there is a lot of stop-starting.  What a group of cyclists will often do when faced with a track or road with many gates, is to take it in turns.

This is done by the first cyclist arriving at the first gate who will open and hold open for all the others to pass through.  They then follow on behind.  This has allowed everyone to ride freely through the gate, causing less hold ups.  This formation continues, so the second rider at the second gate will also open and hold open the gate for the group to pass through.  They then follow at the back, where the first rider is.

Staying Together.

I do try to nominate a 'tail end Charley' who will stay at the back and not let others fall behind.  This way I (or the leader) will be assured that all are present when we turn at a junction.  If you do fall behind (as can happen on hills) then we will wait - but sometimes it is most helpful if you notice someone behind you to let me (or the leader) know, as sometimes I lose count!
Also, if you need to leave the group it is essential to you let me (or at least someone) know.  We can make sure you are OK, and know where you are heading.

Sometimes, in the more experienced 'further faster' group, we may not all wait at each junction.  Instead, the person towards the back who is aware that there are rider(s) still behind when the group turn off the road, will wait at the junction so that the people who have dropped off the back can see them, and they can catch up together.  Remember to tell someone you have waited!  I call this 'breadcrumbs', as it is a trail of people.  We will still periodically re-group; especially if there is a big junction,or maybe a photo stop (or we run out of riders!)

Passing and being passed.

When we ride in the group, we ride either in twos or single file (if it is busy).  But you do not have to stay where you are in the group.  As we go up and down hills there will be a certain amount of movement between faster riders; and even on the flat you may wish to chat to someone in particular.  What we do, though, is just say to the person in front 'coming past' or 'coming through', so that they are warned that you are passing - they may need to swerve for a pothole or something, and also means you do not surprise them.  

This is equally relevant, I think, when you are out riding alone or with friends.  There was a post recently on another ladies cycling club facebook page, quoted below:

"Cycling etiquette question: As I am still fairly new to cycling need some advice! Was out on my own this morning and had a large group from a local cycling club come up behind me. I kept over to the kerb, maintained my speed with the intention of them passing me. Most of the guys passed the time of day as they passed and were friendly and polite. However, one came up beside me and greeted me with..." In future love, if a group comes up behind you, you need to slow down, let them pass and not get in the middle of them". I was nowhere near in the middle of them! So....was he right, should I slow down and let them pass or is it ok to maintain my speed and leave it to them to overtake in their own time? Confused of Wilmslow!!!"

There was an interesting array of responses, mostly along the lines of supporting 'confused from Wilmslow' that to maintain speed and position is absolutely correct, and it is nice to say hello etc.  The fact he opened with 'hello love' rankled not only myself but other fb group members; but I also thought this would serve as a good example for the blog to answer just this question should you be faced with a similar situation.

In the same way that you need to let dog walkers / runners etc know you are passing them on shared paths such as the Greenway, so you need to let other cyclists know - especially with some people I see who suddenly swerve without even looking behind.  I would also expect other cyclists to let me know. 

Riding Two Abreast?

The Highway Code states you should never ride more than two abreast (Rule 66); and sometimes single file is the safest way to ride.  However, there has been much debate in recent years (with the increase in cycling and presence of cyclists on the roads).

If there are eight cyclists in a group (for example), and we are single file, any cars have quite a long vehicle to pass (eight bike lengths long), whereas if we are two abreast, the length is now only four long.  I try to keep group sizes down, with 10 being the maximum planned group.  This may fluctuate, but for groups of 8+, I suggest leaving a 'car gap', so that any cars that may wish/need to pass can do so by 'leap frogging' smaller groups.