5 Laws of Group Riding
You never want to be labeled the squirrel in a group ride. Learn the laws of group riding so you don’t become yet another hazard on the road.
Law 1: Obey Traffic Laws
As a cyclist, you are representing other cyclist by your actions on the road. You should always respect the traffic laws whether you are riding solo or in a group.
We’ve all seen a group get split up at an intersection as half the group follows the traffic laws and the other half does not, racing through the intersection. Don’t be the schmuck who leads other riders a stray. Follow the rules of the road to not only protect yourself but everyone else around you.
Law 2: Announce Hazards
From rocks to roadkill, there are hazards all over the road. When you are riding in a group, it is often not possible to see road hazards before it is too late.
Whenever you are riding in front of someone, you are responsible for the safety of the riders behind you. To keep everyone safe and happy, you need to know the proper hand signals to indicate a hazard is approaching.
When coming upon a hazard such as a rock or hole, point a single finger straight down to the ground on the side of the hazard. If there is loose gravel, extend an open hand down and out to the side of the gravel, shaking it from side to side. It isn’t necessary to announce “Rock” or “Gravel”, but many riders often announce the hazard along with the appropriate signal.
At times, the entire group may need to shift around a large obstacle, such as a parked car. To indicate a shift, reach your hand behind your back and motion your hand in the appropriate direction.
Law 3: Always Signal
Now that you know the proper hazard signals, you need to learn the rest. When you are slowing place a hand in a fist behind your back. To signal stopping, extend your left arm away from your body in a downward ninety degree angle. In contrast, when a right turn is approaching, extend your left arm away from your body in an upward ninety degree angle. To indicate a left turn, simply extend your left arm straight out from your body.
Law 4: Know how to Lead
When pulling a group of riders you must act as the leader. Every change in pedal speed creates an accordion effect throughout the group. You must maintain a consistent speed and be prepared to work at the front of the group.
To avoid overworking yourself on a long group ride, don’t stay at the front of the group for extended periods of time. Before you pull off signal with your your hand that you are pulling off to the left.
Rookie riders at the front of a group have a tendency to stop pedalling before switching out from the pulling position. Do not slow your pedalling until you are completely pulled off from the group. After pulling off soft pedal to let the rest of the group pull through.
When the last few riders in your group start to come up on your right side, increase your pedaling speed to match the group. Once the entire group has passed, signal and slide back into line with the group.
Law 5: Stay Predictable
In support of all the laws, it is extremely important to always be a predictable rider. A predictable rider always follows the laws of group riding. As a predictable rider, other group riders will welcome you to join their rides because they know that you are not a hazard to the group.
What other laws do you think should be added to the list?