Cycling Safety And Etiquette.
Cycling Safety And Etiquette.© Images AGN

Cycling etiquette is still something that cyclists argue about, but there are some rules about how you should act on the road that everyone agrees on.

This list of things to do and not to do while cycling is not complete, but it should keep you on good terms with your fellow cyclists. Not only will knowing the rules of the road make you safer, but it will also make your rides much more enjoyable. Here is your guide to cycling etiquette:

Learn how to ride in a group. When you ride with a group for the first time, it’s a very different experience from when you ride alone. You should really put in the time to learn the basics of how to ride in a group so that everyone works together and follows the same rules. Most of the time, there will be plenty of people willing to point out where you are going wrong.

Don’t do anything that might surprise me. When riding in a group, you have to think about the people around you and how what you do will affect them. Your random move could set off a chain reaction that makes people behind you lose their grip. In an ideal situation, you should stay on your line and keep the same speed.

Don’t overlap wheels. When you “half wheel,” or move in front of the rider’s back wheel, you put yourself and the rider in danger, as well as possibly many other people. If the person you’re on top of moves out, maybe because of a pothole, you’re probably both going to fall down. The best place to be is behind, right next to, or in front of someone, but never on top of them.

Ride compact. The group works best when everyone rides close to each other and leaves as few gaps as possible. The harder it is for the riders and the harder it is to close the gap, the bigger the gaps are. As a word of caution, though, you should only ride close to other people if you feel comfortable and sure of yourself.

Take turns being in the lead. Don’t be the rider who sits in the back and lets everyone else work hard at the front for the whole ride. Make sure you take your turn at the front, unless you are a much weaker rider and are having trouble keeping up. When you get to the front for your turn, make sure the pace stays the same and doesn’t slow down.

Ride with the group that is right for your skill level. Some clubs have more than one group for different skill levels. It’s better to ride with the group that matches your skill level so that you don’t slow down a strong group. When there isn’t a choice, the group should usually ride at the speed that is right for the slowest person in the group. The motto of many clubs is “No one gets left behind.”

Ride side by side. This is always a controversial topic, but it is usually safer to ride two abreast so that cars don’t try to pass you when there isn’t enough room and force you to the side. Of course, you shouldn’t get in the way if it’s not necessary, and you should be ready to go single file if you are. We’re not saying that you should always give way to drivers, but you should use some common sense and be polite here.

Shift gears at the right time. As you approach a climb, think about how steep it will be and change gears early. There’s nothing worse than being behind a rider who is grinding through the gears, especially if it slows you down almost to a stop and then you have to try to get going again.

Don’t pay attention to drivers. Even if you want to wave or yell at bad drivers, it won’t help. A driver with road rage has one thing you don’t have, and that’s a moving, potentially deadly vehicle.

Don’t write without being told to. If you are riding by yourself and you catch up with a rider who is working hard into a headwind, don’t just sit on their back wheel and get a free ride. If you want to draught behind someone else’s wheel, you should at least ask or offer to take turns.

Look after newbies. Every rider started out at some point. Don’t spend your time shaking your head and tutting at a beginner’s bad moves. Instead, teach them how to ride better and where they are going wrong. The more you help them, the faster they’ll learn what’s going on and fit in with your group.

Be nice to other people on bikes. Nearly everyone gives other riders a wave or a nod when they pass. Also, if you see a rider in trouble on the side of the road, ask them if they are okay and if they have everything they need to fix the problem. A spare tube could be the best thing you do all day.

Be kind to other people on the road. Pay attention to other people on the road, especially drivers, who may slow down, stop, or let you pass if they see you or your group coming. As a general rule, don’t wave through a car that is waiting to pass. This will keep you from being held responsible for an accident if the passing causes one. When riding in a group, make sure to use the right warning calls to point out possible dangers. This is especially helpful for riders in the back who can’t see what’s coming, but don’t shout unless you have to. Also, don’t forget to tell the next person in line, especially if there are a lot of people.

Here’s a summary of the most common calls:

CallMeaning
Car up
or
Car Back
A car is coming up from behind the group.
Car ahead
or
Car front
A car is coming towards the group from the front.
Single out
or
Single file
A signal from the riders at the back of the group to the other riders that they need to get in a single line to let vehicles pass. Most of the time, the riders on the outside will drop back behind the riders on the inside.
ClearWhen riders get close to a junction, this call lets them know that there are no cars there. Riders who pass the intersection should yell “clear” to let riders behind them know that the intersection is still clear.
Car Left
or
Car right
These let riders know when a vehicle is coming from either the left or the right.
HoleShows when there is a hole in the road so that riders behind can avoid it.
On the Left/RightA general warning that there is a danger, usually a parked car or people walking. Most of the time, the rider will also put their hand behind their back and point away from the danger.
Stopping
or
Slowing
A signal to let riders behind you know when you’re going to stop or slow down. When stopping, this is often done with an outstretched arm, palm facing the rider behind, fingers pointing down. Riders will often make a “flapping” motion with their hand at their side when they want to slow down.
Ease UpA call to let the other riders know if you can’t keep up or are having trouble. The group should pass the instruction to the front so they know there’s a problem.

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