Group Riding and Safety

Team Evesham must be doing something right because it has experience major growth over the last 2 years. We now have a mailing list of almost 480 members and it has not been unusual to have as many as 100 cyclists on our Sunday all level rides this year.  This is great, but with such a large number of riders things can get chaotic and undisciplined.  In fact, we have noticed this happening and have received comments from other riders.  We want Team Evesham to continue to have a good reputation and want all cyclists to enjoy riding with us.

After some discussion we’ve determine that we must take steps to improve the group riding experience and safety.

Safety is primary. A ride will not be not enjoyable if is not safe.  Common sense and group riding etiquette promote safety.

  • Pick the right group – Choose a group within your capabilities. This will be discussed in more detail later.
  • Communicate – Communication is key to a safe group ride. Roads are full of traffic, rocks, signs, pot holes, parked cars, animals, pedestrians, etc. and visibility is limited for cyclists in a pack. It is important to communicate to the riders in the group of potential hazards by shouting out and pointing out hazards.
    Warnings you’re likely to hear include: 

    • Car Back: there’s a car approaching from the rear of the group ride
    • Car Up: there’s a car approaching from the front of the group ride
    • Car right or left: car is approaching on the left of right of the group ride
    • Rock or Pot Hole: there is a hazard in the road
    • Rough road: a rough or disintegrating patch of road lies ahead
    • Walker/Runner/Jogger up: there’s a pedestrian on the road ahead (pedestrians have the right of way)
    • Biker up: there is a slower cyclist coming up
    • Slowing/Stopping: you (and the group) are slowing and stopping
  • No more than two abreast – Never ride more than two abreast,  stay to right and never ride left of center of the road (i.e., never cross the yellow line).  If “car back” is called out, ride single file. In NJ, as in most states, bikers are required to ride as far to the right as is “practicable”. This is generally within three feet of the edge of the road. Remember we are are sharing the road with other vehicles.
  • Obey traffic laws – Bicycles are considered vehicles and must obey all traffic laws.  You can get a ticket for not obeying the laws.
  • Be smart and predictable
    • Stay alert – Group dynamics are ever changing and riders are all around you. Being alert and aware allows you to stay with the flow.
    • Don’t overlap wheels – This means when riding in a line never let the edge of your front tire get ahead of the edge of the rear tire of the rider in front of you. A small change left or right by the rider in front you can cause you and others to crash.
    • Pass Safely – When passing try to pass on the left, and alert the rider being passed by communicating “on your left”. One should almost never pass on the right.
  • Hold your line – This is part of be predictable and passing safety. Other riders don’t like a squirrelly rider who is all over the road. It is especially important on turns to hold your line.  More accidents occur on turns when riders don’t hold their line or when riders try to pass on a turn.
  • Stay off aero bars –  They are much too unstable to be used in a group ride.

Group riding rules

  • Respect and listen to the group leader – Leading a group is not a easy task.  The group leader sets the parameters so everyone can enjoy the ride. Riders who don’t respect those parameters diminish the experience for the others.
  • Obey traffic laws – enough said!
  • Do not leave the group behind – Do not separate yourself by more than a reasonable distance from the group unless the leader announces a “break away” to specific location.
  • Don’t leave riders off – If the group gets separated at intersections, the lead group should soft pedal until the rest join up.  Also, do not under any circumstances run red lights to stay with the group!
  • Don’t leave a rider with an equipment problem alone – At least one person should stay to aid with repairs and to help rejoin the group.

Groups / Ride classes

  • Group A+ – speed 22 and above mph
  • Group A – speed 20 – 22 mph
  • Group B+ – speed 18- 20  mph
  • Group B – speed 16 – 18 mph
  • Group C – speed 12 -16 mph

Choosing the right group – In order for a group to maintain cohesiveness the riders should be somewhat matched in capabilities.  To maximize your enjoyment and the enjoyment of others in the group it is important that you choose the group that best matches your capabilities. If you believe you are ready to step up in class and want to try a faster group, inform the rider leader that you are stepping up in class. If you cannot maintain the pace let him/her know that you are dropping back to the next group.

Start of the ride – After the announcements the leaders  for the A, B+, B, and C groups will  go to locations  away from the main group. The riders will re-assemble in the respective groups with their ride leaders to review the ride plan, speed, pace and safety rules before starting the ride.