Summary of Group Riding Etiquette
- It shouldn’t need saying, but ALWAYS wear a safety helmet when cycling.
- Motorists have never been more aware of cyclists, and maybe drivers’ attitudes towards cyclists are starting to slowly improve. However, there are still plenty of bad drivers out there (as well as bad cyclists, of course), so let’s not antagonise them wherever possible. Quite the contrary in fact: where a driver has acted courteously and considerately towards you or your group, try and acknowledge the behaviour with a friendly wave – it costs nothing.
- Equipment: always carry spare inner tube(s), tyre levers, pump, money, drink and mobile phone. Optional: food, an extra inner tube, waterproof top to be tucked into jersey pocket when not in use, mudguards for winter use (many clubs have a rule which specifies mudguards must be used on winter clubruns).
- Know how to change an inner tube!!!
- Check your bike regularly: tyres pumped up (I suggest 90-100psi for most purposes), brakes properly aligned on the rims without too much movement of the brake levers, and gears properly adjusted.
- If you have to ride in the dark, use good quality lights. Many riders now use 2 sets – especially at the rear, with one constant and one flashing. Also use reflective clothing: jackets are excellent, but also consider leg or ankle bands – because the legs are moving, they will catch the light of vehicle headlights making you more visible. If riding in the dark on country lanes, consider using a rechargeable front light. Whilst more expensive, they really light the road up properly like a car headlight.
- Learn to ride one-handed: this is important when coming up to junctions and there is a need to signal. Once competent at riding one-handed it will also make life easier if you need a drink on the move, look at your watch, or turn round to have a look behind.
- Stop at red lights! It shouldn’t need saying, but one of the most common of motorists’ complaints is that cyclists do not stop at red lights, especially in London. If we are to change driver attitudes, this should be an easy one to help us on our way.
- Read the Highway Code – and obey it!
- Wherever possible, try and ride in 2′s. Contrary to popular belief, this is not against the law, per se. Cycling is a social activity and it provides the opportunity to chat to your fellow riders. However, this suggestion comes with a number of caveats!
- Chiltern lanes are often narrow and twisty, and on group rides, the call will often go out: “single out, car behind”. This is a request for the group to ride in single file, so that vehicles are then able to overtake in greater safety. However, if the group is bigger than about 10, then singling out means that there is a line of riders potentially as long, or longer, than an articulated lorry, thus reducing the opportunity of following vehicles to overtake. In such circumstances, it is often safer to remain riding in 2′s! Thus, with larger groups, there are a number of options:
- Stay in 2′s, thereby forcing traffic behind to slow to the pace of the group, until such time as the road widens or straightens enough to enable following traffic to overtake.
- Split the group into 2 sections, with enough space between them to allow vehicles to overtake the second group and slot in behind the first group and overtake them when the opportunity allows.
- Simply look for somewhere for the whole group to pull over to the side of the road – especially if there are multiple vehicles piling up behind.
- Riding in 2′s: when riding at the front of the group, ride alongside your partner – not half a wheel or half a bike length in front or behind them, which will cause disruption behind the front pair. This also means that the front pair should ride at a pace which is comfortable for the whole group – experienced riders will often have something to say if this is not the case! When riding in 2′s behind the front pair, the foregoing still applies, and also the suggestion that you ride at a distance behind the rider in front which is comfortable for you. As you gain more experience, this comfort distance will decrease and you will not only be able to ride closer to the wheel in front, but also get more shelter as the slipstreaming effect increases. For relative newcomers to cycling, this gap could be as much as half a bike length. Bear in mind also that the gap should be bigger on descents as speed increases, or with a strong tailwind – both for newbies and experienced riders.
- In case you hadn’t noticed, cycling can be hard work! It is therefore normal to share the workload at the front of a group – changes are normally effected every 10-20 minutes if changing in pairs (see below). Effecting the changeover of one pair to another when riding in 2′s needs to be done efficiently and safely. There are 2 ways:
- To changeover 2 by 2, ie the front pair gives way to the pair immediately behind: the rider on the outside at the front of the group accelerates past their partner and moves over to the inside, so that they are line astern. The rest of the group then overtakes these 2 riders, remaining in pairs as they do so, until the original front 2 get to the back of the group, where they rejoin as a pair. The disadvantage of this method of changing is that the group is temporarily 3 abreast for a short period of time as the group overtakes the original front pair.
- Alternatively, the change can be done 1 by 1, ie like a “chaingang”, for those who have practised this. Thus, when time for a change, the rider at the front on the outside accelerates past their partner and moves over to the inside when clear, as for the first method, the difference being that the whole of the outside line of riders also moves up one place – the outside line moving forward as the inside line moves back. The time spent at the front by each pair is agreed upon by the group. This method is also how racing cyclists will ride in a small group, when racing or training, when it is referred to as: “through and off”, or “bit and bit”. If it sounds complicated, it is a lot easier to put into practice than it is into words!
- Stay together! This is generally the responsibility of the group leader, but it is important to be aware of the whereabouts of the rest of the group, especially if you have got to the top of a hill first and there are big gaps behind you. Also at junctions and intersections, try to maintain the cohesiveness of the group where possible, but if conditions do not allow, then be sure to re-form into a group as quickly as possible.
- Communicate! When at the front always warn following riders of any potential hazards, such as potholes, puddles, bumps, debris on the road, parked cars, approaching vehicles, etc – do this both physically and verbally when possible, ie point to potholes. When approaching junctions, traffic lights, roundabouts, intersections, etc – similarly: warn the group. Approaching horses travelling in the same direction as the group, give audible warning such as an inoffensive “yo”, slow down when passing and give them a wide berth. For horses travelling in the opposite direction, slow down and ride past as appropriate.
When riding in a group, DO NOT:
- Allow gaps to open up within the group, as this will disrupt the group.
- Half-wheel when at the front, trying to push the pace up.
- Ride in the middle of the road.
- Use behaviour which could be considered offensive.
- Signal cars to go past
Marlow Rider Code of Conduct
Marlow Riders (MR) has a Code of Conduct to help create a culture amongst all cyclists to be more responsible and take ownership of their conduct when using the roads as part of Club activities or when riding in Club kit. This Code will support and enhance the reputation of the Club and importantly assist in making the roads a safer place for all road users.
As the number of bikes and cars on our roads increases, cyclists have an important role to play in assuring the safety of all road users. We all have the right to use the road but to ensure safety and mutual respect with car drivers, responsible cycling is mandatory to maintain good relationships on the road and preserve the reputation of the Club. We also have a duty to behave responsibly, courteously and safely in the presence of other road users, for example horse riders, pedestrians and motorcyclists.
The purpose of the Code of Conduct (Code) is to outline the type of behaviours which members of MR are expected to follow when engaged in Club activities. It also applies to members who are not engaged in Club activities but are wearing Club Kit and are hence representing the Club. It is not an exhaustive description but summarises the core principles that members should adopt so long as they remain a part of the Club. The MR Management Team will ultimately be accountable for the behaviours it wishes and does not wish to see in the Club.
The Code applies to:
• All members of the Club
• Persons acting on behalf of MR, for examples officials and other support personnel assisting or conducting MR Events.
• All non-members who ride with MR
This Code of Conduct is to be read in conjunction with the latest published MR cycling etiquette guidelines above .
1. Key Elements of the Code
The Code is designed to ensure the safety and well-being of all Club members and to both protect and enhance the reputation of the Club in the wider community. All persons who are bound by this Code shall:
• Act in a manner that is in the interest of the Club and does not harm its reputation
• Follow the policies, rules, procedures and guidelines
• Accord all members of the Club, the public and fellow road users the appropriate courtesy, respect and regard for their rights and obligations.
1.2. Road Safety
All members of MR when participating in Club Events will follow the Highway Code as it applies to cycling. For example;
• Cyclists must stop at red lights. It’s the law!
• Keep to the left on the road to allow clear passage for passing traffic
• Wear brightly coloured (if not Club) kit and have lights on the bike if conditions demand it.
• Be predictable and always indicate your intentions
• If riding two abreast, be courteous if the road narrows
• Signal and/or call your intentions and hazards to ensure your safety and the safety of those near you.
• At traffic lights and intersections depending on the conditions, stay in position behind queued vehicles rather than rolling up the side of stopped traffic.
• Be especially cautious around lorries, buses, farm vehicles and horses. These can be unpredictable particularly if they are unaware of your presence.
Follow the instructions of your ride leader at all times
At MR It is mandatory to wear approved helmets on all Club events.
1.3. Behaviour on Club Events
MR expects its members to behave in a way that demonstrates respect for other members, external stakeholders and their property, including the general public. It also wishes to operate in an environment that is free from harassment or discrimination. In this context, harassment is defined as any action directed at an individual or group that creates a hostile, intimidating or offensive environment. Discrimination is defined as not respecting the rights and dignity of every member of the Club equally, irrespective of gender, ethnic origin, age, sexual orientation or religion. Ultimately it not easy to provide a comprehensive definition of what is unacceptable behaviour but a starting point would be to judge the behaviour in the context of the following questions:
• Will the behaviour have a negative impact on the reputation of the Club?
• Does the behaviour create significant tension, disharmony or disunity within the Club?
• Could the behaviour be considered to be discrimination or harassment as defined above? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes’, the behaviour is likely to be unacceptable.
Examples of unacceptable behaviour include:
• Denigration or intimidation of other individuals, riders or otherwise, in the Club or outside, especially during organised events.
• Repeated use of foul language or insulting behaviour on Club rides
• Any form of harassment whether physical, mental or sexual
• Any form of discrimination
• Damaging Club or another person’s property
• Theft of Club or a member’s property
• The use or encouragement of the use of banned substances (as outlined in the UCI anti-doping policy)
• Any behaviour that would harm the long term reputation of the Club – especially when out on an organised cycle event. For example, difficult encounters with inconsiderate drivers and other road users are a frequent occurrence. These must be handled with tact and sensitivity, even if the other road user is in the wrong.
2. Gross Misconduct
The following are considered as gross misconduct:
• Any act of violence, intimidation or harassment against another Club member;
• Any act that is deemed to be illegal whilst participating in a Club organised activity or whilst wearing Club clothing;
• Riding in a Club activity whilst under the influence of drink or drugs;
• Theft of another member’s or of the Club’s property.
• Ignoring the requests or instructions from officials such as the police.
3. Grievance and Disciplinary Process
• An example of non-compliance with the Code would normally be reported to a Committee member through a variety of routes, depending on the incident and sequence of events that have led to the breach. For example, the Club regularly receives feedback on its website or directly to committee members about the conduct of its members on Club rides. Most of these are of a trivial nature and do not require in depth investigation. If some action is required, it will probably be to ask the member(s) involved to address the issue and if appropriate take action to stop the incident happening again. Any action required to address these trivial incidents would probably be determined by the Leader of the Club Ride or the organiser of the Event. For more serious issues, especially involving safety, and or engagements with members of the public, the member or members involved in the breach would normally be asked to explain what had happened to an Investigation Team, appointed by the Committee. This team would be comprised of three non-Committee members, and would have the power to investigate what happened and make recommendations. These would be presented and discussed at the forthcoming Club Committee meeting, or if urgent at a specially convened Committee meeting. Any proposed actions would have to be approved by the Committee. Any Club member who was involved in this disciplinary process would have the right to bring as much evidence to the Investigation Team, (including witnesses) as they felt necessary to support their position in the case of a dispute. The Investigation Team would also be able to consult widely and gather as much evidence as was necessary to understand and resolve the issue. Finally, the Team would review the evidence with all those involved in the incident and agree its conclusions and recommendations. Once these had been agreed by the Committee, they would be communicated back to the members involved. In the case of a dispute, the members could appeal to a second Arbitration Team of three different Club members (again not Committee members) and if still not resolved to the Club Committee itself. The Committee’s decision would be final. Normally if the breach was the first of its kind and of a relatively minor nature, the individuals concerned would be requested to take the appropriate remedial action and would suffer no further consequences. A repeat of the breach, or a more serious incident might trigger the issuing of a written warning to those who were deemed to be responsible for the breach. Gross Misconduct would result in expulsion from the Club and if necessary, involvement of the Police.