RULES OF THE ROAD

It’s important that we reconcile the fun, social and relaxed experience of road cycling with the need to be serious and alert to the very real dangers on the road.

 

With this in mind, we limit the number of riders to 12 max on each ride, and have some basic rules and etiquette for group riding that everyone should be aware of when riding with us. These are in place to keep everyone safe.

Whilst safer, riding in a group is fundamentally different to riding on your own. Remember that you are part of a bigger entity when riding in a peloton and you need to adjust your riding and thinking accordingly. Your actions are no longer independent and must be considered as to their impact on the bunch. A peloton is not as simple as an individual and so must approach junctions, lights, hazards, traffic congestion etc. accordingly.

Everyone in the group is responsible for the safety of the group and the other riders around them, as well as their own. As a result, as fun as it is, there are very important roles which everyone in the group needs to be actively undertaking at all times.

The Highway Code should be followed at all times.

We also have a duty to show good conduct to the general public while out on ride.  Courteous, responsible, non-aggressive and safe cycling in a group is important in order to gain respect and improve cooperation with all road users when sharing our busy roads.

Your Responsibilities As A Rider

  • Confirm your planned attendance on club rides before 3PM on Saturday to allow us to allocate Covid-safe groups - please let us know ASAP if your plans change. 

  • Arrive 5 minutes before the noted start time to hear the pre-ride briefing.

  • Be aware of the route and any re-group points. Rides leaves at the nominated start time.

  • Ride in a predictable and constant manner, and maintain consistent speed

  • Hold lines, especially around corners.

  • Do not give in to frustration and take gaps that the rest of the group cannot.

  • Avoid sudden or impulsive decision making

  • Relay (repeat) calls and hand signals promptly. This takes some time to work through the group so relay signals as soon as you hear / see them.

  • Point out obstacles.

  • Leave the right distance to the riders in front. Roughly more than 50cm but less than a 1m between wheels. This is to leave some space for reaction times, but also not to have gaps bigger than 1m which will reduce drafting benefit and cause the group to splinter. Never overlap wheels with the rider in front.

  • Look forward at all times. (Unless checking it’s safe to change lanes or at junctions! Look past the rider directly in front of you to anticipate changes in pace or direction.

  • Focus on the group, riding, and calls. If you’re not capable of multi-tasking, prioritise riding over chatting

  • Always be ready to brake, cover your levers at all times in a group. 

  • When riding in pairs, ride in line with the person next to you. Handlebar to handlebar.  Do not ‘half-wheel’

  • Do your best to keep the group together. Call to “EASE UP” if you notice the group splitting or you’re struggling to maintain the pace.

  • Do not brake unless necessary, and always call out to the group when doing so.

  • Roll up to stop point as a group with reasonable speed but slow down gently.  Stopping too abruptly is dangerous and may cause an accident behind.

  • Slowing down very slowly and/ or attempting track standing leads to a cascade down the group and makes it hard for the riders behind to slow down safely.

  • Do not ‘filter’ to the front of a line of stationary traffic.

  • Help less experienced riders to learn group riding techniques and calls. Make all riders feel welcome.

Critical to the safety of group riding is communication amongst the group. In this respect, the front and back positions are the most important positions to be in. If you find yourself here and are new or are aren’t comfortable, rotate or switch with someone as soon as is safe.

 

Front Runners

  • Ride at a constant speed. Only slow down if it’s clearly signalled to the group behind first. This includes when you ‘ease up’ generally on the pace as well as slowing / stopping for obstacles ahead.

  • Remember at all times that there is a long line of riders behind you riding in close proximity at high speed with little time to react. Keep all actions smooth and predictable. 

  • Ease off from a standing start at a gentle pace until all at clicked in and ready to roll. Do not ride too fast until all are ready.

  • Know the route and point out turns well in advance. If you don’t know the route, ask or rotate off the front. 

  • Make the group aware of the need to change lanes well in advance of any obstacle such as a parked car or lane ending (see below)

  • Make safe judgements for the whole group on whether or not to stop at junctions, roundabouts and traffic lights (see below). Remember that stopping abruptly will cause an accident or near-miss further back in the group.

  • Point out all obstacles (even more important than when in the middle of the group)

  • Maintain the appropriate pace for the group. Ease up the pace if requested from behind to keep the group together. 

Back Markers

  • Make judgements on whether or not is it safe to change lanes (see below)

  • Make the call to ‘ease up’ if they see gaps in the group forming which are not being called by others.

  • Call ahead to warn the group of a vehicle behind 

  • Call ahead (“ALL ON”) to let the front riders know the group is united.

Formation & Rotation

Generally, the group formation is two abreast, but be aware of the conditions and be courteous to the vehicles we share the road with. In small groups and / or on narrow roads to let vehicles pass, there may be a need to go single file for a period. Unless otherwise noted by the ride captain prior to the ride, we ride in what we call ‘rotating turns’.

 

Effectively there are 2 side-by-side lines of cyclists. When required, either of the front two riders will indicate a ‘rotation’. The front-left rider will ease very slightly, and the front-right rider will pull over to the left and take over front-left position. The rider that was second in line on the right pulls up to take over front-right position.

 

Each rider’s turn at the front depends how comfortable they are in holding the pace. Turns usually last 500m - 2km depending on terrain.

Vehicle Behind

Often we ride on roads with few vehicles, especially early in the morning. When this happens, group formation can get relaxed with riders not holding constant lines, etc. When a vehicle approaches from the rear of the group, the riders at the back of the group will call ‘CAR BACK’ to warn the group that a vehicle will try and pass shortly. This is a warning to ride cautiously and hold tight formation allowing room for the vehicle to pass.

 

However, in some instances (particularly on narrow roads in a small group) it will be followed by a call of ‘SINGLE’ to move to single file to allow the vehicle to pass more readily. This call to move to single file will only be made if it is safe to do so.

Calls & Manoeuvering

With various signals and calls to warn the group of the hazards cyclists are exposed to, it’s vital you know what each one means, while being able and confident to make a call when you’re the rider on the front.

The nature of riding in a group means, if you’re not on the front of the bunch, you may not always see a hazard, but a well-drilled group using signals and calls correctly will ensure all riders remain safe on the road.

CHANGING TO SINGLE FILE 


At some points the riders at the front may determine a need to break the ‘two up’ formation and go single file. This may be because there is a parked car in our lane (and the riders at the back have called that we have to HOLD the lane) or because there is a need to let a car pass on a single lane road. In this instance the riders will call ‘SINGLE’ and raise a single pointed finger. As soon as it is safe to re-take the lane, the front riders will call ‘TWO UP’ and standard riding formation resumes. 


MOVING LANES


If there is a need to move lanes, the front riders will put up their hands with a clenched fist, and call “CALL” It then becomes the back riders responsibility to determine if it’s safe to move over.  If it is safe, the riders at the back first take the lane and then call ‘OVER’ to all the riders in front - who in turn move over. If it is not safe, the riders at the back call ‘HOLD’ until it is safe to move. 


SLOWING GROUP

 
If the front riders need to slow down this will be called by either ‘
STOPPING’, ‘SLOWING’ or (for traffic lights)  ‘LIGHTS’  calls. Usually this is accompanied by a single open palmed hand signal. 


SETTING OFF


This will be indicated by ‘ROLLING’ call. The same call may be used when going through an amber light to indicate that the front riders will not stop. If you’re towards the front of the group, remember not to take off too quickly. If you’re at the back and believe the group to be rolling slowly until all ready to roll, remember to call “ALL ON” to signify the front riders can get up to normal pace
 

MECHANICAL PROBLEM


In the event of a mechanical problem or puncture, the rider should raise their hand (if safe to do so) and call ‘MECHANICAL’. The rider and group will pull over to the side of the road as soon as is safe.


PASSING OTHER CYCLISTS / GROUPS


When approaching a slower rider/group, the riders at the front should call out ‘RIDERS’ to warn the other party of our presence and give the ‘Obstruction ahead’ signal to the riders behind. Keep the speed consistent and give sufficient space when passing.
 

OBSTACLES


It’s important that we all point out obstacles such potholes, branches, gravel, or anything that may cause an accident. This is usually indicated by a rider pointing straight down in the direction of the obstacle either side of their bike. If it’s not safe to point, obstacles make by warned vocally (such as ‘HOLE MIDDLE’, ‘GLASS LEFT’, etc)

 

TURNING 


This will be signalled by the front riders holding a pointed finger straight out in the direction of an upcoming turn.  If not safe to point, the riders may simply call out the direction of the turn. 
 

TRAFFIC LIGHTS 


We do not run through red lights. When approaching a light that changes to amber the riders at the front will stop only if it’s safe to (“STOPPING”). If it is not safe to stop in such a short time call “ROLLING” to let all know that we’ll roll through.  The riders at the front will do their best but no-one is perfect. They may forget the size and length of the group behind. If it is not safe to roll through do not do so. Call “STOPPING” and break the group. The front group will pull over as soon as is safe and re-group waiting for the rest.  
 

RELAYING CALLS


One of the most important parts of riding in a group is to relay calls. It’s very rarely possible to hear calls from the back when at the front, and vice-versa.  We rely on riders relaying calls and hand signals. This means that if, for example, the riders in front of you put up a hand signal to move lanes, repeat that signal. And if the riders behind you call ‘HOLD’, ‘OVER’, or anything else, repeat the same call. Similarly, point out obstacles that others point out to you.  
 

JUNCTIONS & ROUNDABOUTS


Approach all junctions where we do not have right of way by easing up and be ready to stop. This includes roundabouts and traffic lights that may change. The group may need to split if it’s a choice between this and a potential accident. Every rider must take responsibility. Just because the riders in front of you have rolled through, it does not necessarily mean it is safe for you to do so.

Thanks / Acknowlegement

It’s so easy to forget to do this, but it makes the world of difference for relations with our fellow road users.

 

If an oncoming vehicle has let us make a turn or have access to a narrow stretch of road first, acknowledge them with a raised hand of thanks. Making this sign obvious – for example with an additional smile or a raised thumb – can help ‘humanise’ us on the road, and conveys genuine appreciation for the actions of the other road user.

We also follow the fine road cycling tradition of acknowledging other cyclists as they pass by. A nod of the head and smile, or a hand raised off the ‘bar, will do the trick for oncoming riders, or just say “hello” if passing a cyclist on the same side of the road.

 

Be nice out there!

STOPPING !

Remember to call if you are slowing or stopping

CLEAR !

Indicates rider believes it safe for riders behind to proceed through junction. This is a guide only, do not blindly follow this call.

CAR !

Indicates rider in front believes NOT safe to proceed through junction. May be following by abrupt stopping, be careful.

 

St John's Ambulance "First aid for cyclists" app

The app aims to give every cyclist the skills to deal with the most common cycling injuries, including head injuries, cuts and grazes, and muscle injuries.

WALDY WHEELERS

SW London's finest cycling club

©2019 Waldy Wheelers