Bicycle Accidents Staying Safe During Group Bicycle Rides
Cycling weather is finally here, which means more time on Wisconsin roads and trails for biking enthusiasts. Just as it’s a good idea to make sure your bicycle is in good working order before you head outside, it’s also a good idea to go over how to stay as safe as possible while you ride. While general safety guidelines are true for solo rides and group rides — like following the rules of the road, including stopping at red lights and stop signs — there are some notable differences between group and solo riding. For those new to it or in need of a refresher, here are some safety tips for group bicycle rides.
It might seem like a no-brainer, but paying attention is an essential part of staying safe during a group bicycle ride. To that end, try to stay focused and keep your mind from wandering while you ride. Also, while some solo riders feel safe listening to music or a podcast, we recommend against having earbuds in during group rides. Not only do you need to be able to hear traffic, sirens, train whistles, and the like, but you also need to be able to hear from others in your riding group. It’s essential to hear group members communicating with one another as well as the ride leader giving verbal instructions.
Whether you’re letting riders behind you know about potholes and other hazards in the road, or you’re alerting riders about traffic approaching from the rear (“Car back!”) or the front (“Car up!”), communication is key to safe group riding. So be sure to participate in it.
Being a predictable rider can make you and everyone around you a lot safer. It will also keep your positive reputation with your fellow riders intact. Ride straight without any unnecessary weaving. Keep your speed as constant as possible. If there’s a reason you can’t do these things, be sure to communicate early and often with your group.
When bicycling in a group, be sure also to change positions in the group correctly. When passing a slower rider, do so on the left, and say “On your left” before you overtake them. Avoid passing on the right, as this isn’t standard procedure, but if for some reason you must, be sure you let the rider(s) you’re passing know with a robust, “On your right!”
Especially on rural rides and during large group rides, it’s important to leave a gap for cars every three to five riders. With hills, curves, bridges, and the like more common in the country and shoulders and bike lanes less common, leaving a gap lets motorists pass small groups of riders across shorter distances, which enhances the safety of everyone.
Most cyclists know the standard hand signals for turning left (left arm held straight out from the body to the left) and right (right arm held straight out from the body to the right or left arm out and bent up at the elbow), but group rides require a few more than these. It’s also important to signal when slowing down (left arm extended down with palm facing back) or stopping (left arm behind back and hand in a fist). Certain clubs also have other hand signals that are commonly used, so be sure to check with your group leader about any other signals you need to know and use.
Intersections should always be treated with respect. Follow your leader’s directions to slow or stop, and remember that each cyclist is responsible to verify for themselves that the intersection is clear and safe before venturing through it.
Should the group spread out, the two cyclists at the back of the group should adjust their speed to ride as a pair so if one of them has trouble or needs assistance, they aren’t alone.
Going on a bike ride is, for many, one of the best ways to enjoy Wisconsin’s roads, trails, parks, and cities in the spring, summer, and fall. If you’re heading out in a group, remember these safety tips, and check with the organizers of your ride about any other etiquette or norms you should know.
Have you or a loved one been in a bicycle accident? Reach out to Gruber Law Offices for help.