Outdoor Club of South Jersey
GROUP CYCLING ETIQUETTE SKILLS
Portions excerpted from League of American Bicyclists, New York Cycle Club,
Five Borough Bicycle Club, International Bicycle Fund, Road Bike Review.
Cycling with a group, as opposed to cycling alone, requires special cycling
skills. Safety has to be one of the major concerns of group riding. However,
there is a certain cycling etiquette, or rules of the road, which need to be
followed for safety.
A) ROAD RULES
a) Ride SINGLE file, in a straight line (don't weave in and out). Leave at
least one to two bicycle lengths between you and the rider in front of you.
Leave more space when going downhill.
b) Ride predictably, keeping a consistent pace and by not slamming on your
brakes. Be alert for pedestrians, especially children and pets who might dart
in front of you.
c) Ride with BOTH HANDS on the handlebars.
d) When stopping at intersections, always stop BEFORE the crosswalk. Make
eye contact with drivers and pedestrians before you cross their path.
Pedestrians always have the right of way.
e) At intersections where the right lane is reserved for right turns, move
over into the inside line of the left lane. If there is no designated right
turn lane and if cars are stopped at the intersection and their right-hand
signal is flashing, move over to the left side of the car.
f) Don't bunch up at lights, or when the leader has stopped for any reason.
STAY IN LINE and don't pull up next to another rider or "scoot" ahead.
g) When passing, ALWAYS pass on the LEFT when the group is riding on the
RIGHT side of the road,
Call out to person being passed: "passing on your left “ Rider being passed
should slow down a little to give the passing rider ample room to get back in line.
h) Move OFF THE ROAD when stopping due to mechanical problems, to regroup,
etc., (Use an appropriate place to lean your bicycle against. Someone's car,
glass storefront, doorways, etc., are not appropriate places. Be considerate
of other's property.) Don't block driveways, pedestrian pathways, sidewalks,
i) In case of a flat or breakdown, ask another cyclist to ride ahead to
alert the leader of your breakdown.
B) HAND SIGNALS (use only when it's safe for you take a hand off the bars)
a) Right turn: right arm straight out to right.
b) Left turn: left arm straight out to left
c) Slowing or stopping: left arm diagonally down, palm open to the rear
d) Road hazards: point down to left or right
C) VERBAL WARNINGS (it's good to give verbal warnings at all times - the
rider behind you might be momentarily distracted and may not see your hand
a) "Car up" = car approaching from opposite direction
b) "Car back" = car approaching from rear
c) "Car right/left" = car approaching from right/left side
d) "Slowing" or "stopping" (important for unexpected stops when your hands
are on the brakes)
e) "Hole right/left" "bump" "gravel" "glass" "rough road" "door"
f) NEVER call out "clear." Allow each rider to use their own judgment when
it's safe for them to proceed and don't do their thinking for them.
D) TURNING (use hand signals when turning, not only for the cyclists behind
you but for cars and pedestrians)
a) Single Lane: Before intersection, move to left side of right lane and signal left turn. If a car ahead of you is signaling left turn, stay in line behind that car, but toward the left so cars going straight can pass you on the right. If stopped at a light at which you will turn left, stay on left side of lane; if car pulls up beside you, make sure driver knows you are turning.
b) Left Turn Lane: Before intersection, move to right side of left turn lane. Turn wide so that you stay on the right side of the lane so cars turning left will stay to your left. If a car is ahead of you in the left turn lane, stay in line behind that car and take the lane so that other left turning cars will stay behind you. As you turn, stay on the right side of the lane.
c) Right Turn Lane: Just stay in the right lane and go around the corner. If you're going straight at an intersection where there is a right turn lane, move to the left side of that right-hand lane so that cars turning right can pass you on the right as you go straight.
OTHER USEFUL STUFF
The group ride leaders usually choose the destination and route for
the ride. Be sure that the distance and riding speed is within your
skills before you go on the ride. A ride leader might hand out route
sheets (also called "cue sheets" or "turn sheets"). If you know an
alternate route, and would like to share it, suggest it to the leader
privately. Remember that the ride leader is always in charge of the
ride and the final decision-maker as to the route to follow. Please
respect the decisions of the group leaders at all times.
POINT, DROP, SWEEP
Most group rides have a leader in front (the "point") and sometimes a
leader in the rear (the "sweep"). It's important for the riders
"trippers" to stay between the point and the sweep.
In larger groups, when the point is making a turn in the road he/she
might ask the rider who's directly behind him/her to "drop" and signal
the direction to the other riders. If you don't want to be a drop, do
not ride directly behind the point. If you are a drop, drop at least
one to two car lengths before the turn (less chance of you being in
the way of a car making the turn, and it also gives the oncoming rider
advance notice of the turn). As soon as a rider is within your view,
signal right or left turns by an outstretched arm and hand, pointing
in the direction the rider should go. The sooner a rider knows which
direction they must turn the sooner they can plan their strategy for
making the turn, especially when they need to move over to the left
side of the road in traffic. Do not leave your post as a "drop" until
the sweep arrives and verbally tells you it's okay for you to proceed.
Be prepared to start riding your bicycle as soon as the sweep is
within view, and start riding as soon as you have been given the
signal to proceed (it's very annoying for a sweep to have to stop at
each "drop" and wait for them to get organized and get on their bikes
to start riding).
HOW CAN YOU GET TO KNOW OTHER CYCLISTS WHEN RIDING SINGLE FILE?
We suggest that you get acquainted with other cyclists by arriving
early for a ride, socialize during breaks and at lunch stops, linger
at the end of the ride, make plans to meet another cyclist outside of
the group rides, etc. It is not safe to ride next to another cyclist
and chat. If you are carrying on a conversation with another cyclist while riding it means
you are riding too close to that person and you are not paying 100% attention to the
Group riding is fun and safe if done with common sense and
courtesy and by following Group Cycling Etiquette.
CELL PHONES, EAR BUDS, ETC.
Talking on your cell phone or wearing headphones while riding a
bicycle is dangerous to you and the other riders (wearing headphones
while riding a cycle is illegal in New York). Leave your headphones at
home. If you must make a call, or receive a call, while on a ride, do
so only when the entire group has taken a stop for rest, lunch, etc.,
and make your call as brief as possible. It's rude to talk on your cell phone while
inside an establishment, such as a restaurant, store, or any place where others can
hear you. No one else wants to listen in on your telephone conversation so please be
polite and move off to a distance where you cannot be overheard. When the group is
ready to leave, don't make them wait while you finish your call.
LEAVING A RIDE
You can usually tell shortly into the ride if the speed of a
particular group ride is beyond your capabilities. Please excuse
yourself from the ride as soon as you know that you cannot maintain
the group's speed. Making the whole group wait for you frequently to
catch up spoils the ride for everyone else. Be sure that the ride you
are going on is within your riding skills. Whenever you leave a ride,
for any reason, be sure to let the rider leaders, especially the
sweep, know that you are leaving. Otherwise they might ride around
needlessly looking for you. The ride leaders may ask a cyclist to
leave the ride if they feel that the cyclist is holding up the rest of
the group or if the cyclist is not adhering to cycling etiquette.
Always cross railroad tracks and metal edged sidewalks head on. Do not
attempt to cross them with your front wheel pointed at an angle. The
wheel will just slide off the side of the metal edge and cause you to
have a serious accident. Be extra careful at bridge joints. They have
large gaps that may cause your front wheel to wedge in between the
gap. If in doubt, get off and walk your bike across.
THINGS TO BRING ON A GROUP RIDE
a. Map - if you know in advance of the group's destination, it's
always a good idea to bring a road map. There might be a reason that
you must leave the group and you should be able to find your way home.
b. A helmet (and wear it)
c. Water - At least two full bottles or a hydration pack filled with
d. At least two spare inner tubes and a patch kit (know how to change
your inner tube or to fix a flat)
e. A good working bicycle with tires in good condition and inflated to
the appropriate psi (pounds per square inch). Make sure that nothing
is hanging (loose straps, loose equipment, etc.)
f. A good working bicycle frame pump
g. A multitool or Allen wrench set
h. Money for lunch or entrance fees where appropriate
i. A bicycle lock (when required)
j. Personal identification (enclose information on an "emergency contact")