Cycling Safety Guidelines
Your safety is of paramount importance when you ride with Cranleigh Cycling Club. Please read the information and guidelines below carefully. We expect every rider turning up on any ride to take responsibility for knowing what will be expected of them by the law and when riding with a club.
Cycling is NOT a dangerous sport but it can be dangerous if you do not behave appropriately – especially when riding in groups.
Whilst riding with the Club it is important to remember, you are riding as a Club member and not as an individual and that you are representing Cranleigh Cycling Club. Therefore consideration has to be given to other road users as well as your fellow cyclists to ensure safety and enjoyment is maintained.
Remember your actions or the lack of them have an effect on your fellow cyclists and to that end there are some do’s and don’ts within the Club, aimed at promoting a safe and enjoyable riding culture, that will in turn create an etiquette that all Club members will be familiar with.
Remember if in doubt ask …. We are all here to help each other.
Group Riding do’s and don’ts
- When riding in a group it is important that you ride in a smooth and predictable manner and concentrate on what is happening with other riders around you. You should try to be aware of the road conditions and terrain at all times – this will help you maintain a steady pace.
- The Saturday/Sunday runs are a social event. They are not a race. Members should ride in pairs and should be in line with the pair in front of them. This helps the aerodynamic efficiency of the group and helps avoid unnecessary swerving or braking. There is an understandable tendency for riders to take a line to one side of the rider in front of them and to overlap a little. This should be avoided as it causes the group to “echelon” and spread across the road, giving the appearance, when the group is approached from the front or back, that the riders in the group are riding 3 and 4 abreast. This is particularly noticeable going up hill.
- The Highway Code states that cyclists should ride no more than 2 abreast and on narrow or busy roads should ride in single file.
- Members should usually ride in pairs in line but always single out in the interests of safety.
- Ride close to the riders in front of you for maximum slipstreaming effect but only as close as you feel comfortable with. If you (or those in front) are less experienced leave a larger gap and if the road is wet, or there is a cross-wind, leave a larger gap still.
- Do not ride with your front wheel overlapping the rear wheel of the person in front. If the person in front makes a sudden move, your front wheel could be knocked from under you causing you and probably those around you to crash.
- Do not ride ‘hands-off’ in the group; this is an extremely dangerous practice. If you need to take both hands off the bars for any reason then move to the rear of the group before doing so. Putting on or taking off a rain top whilst riding in the group is dangerous and not permitted, if you need to put on/take off a rain top then either ask the group to stop when safe to do so or move to the very back of the group and let the other riders know what you intend to do.
- When pulling up at a road junction stay in two lines and do not scatter across the road. Don’t pass or crowd around vehicles that are waiting at the junction this only serves to annoy drivers and can be dangerous.
- Members of the group who have negotiated the junction, should be aware that other members may have had to wait and need time to rejoin so should proceed slowly on the route or find a safe place to wait and regroup.
- Change to single file as necessary to help cars overtake, especially if cars are finding it difficult to get past on narrow roads.
- The best way to single out is that riders on the inside should in turn slightly accelerate to allow riders on the outside to in turn slip in behind them. A common reaction to an on coming car is to brake. This should be avoided if possible as it can have a hazardous “ripple” effect through the group.
- Members should have a clear and well understood method of singling out – if in doubt talk to each other!
- Keep to the left of the left side of the road, this will enable other members of the group (tail-end Charlie for instance) to overtake if needed and also help motorists in overtaking.
- Don’t make sudden movements in the group, like braking or swerving or suddenly slowing up on a steep part of a hill for example, especially in a large group. As you get out of the saddle or sit down again try to maintain a steady speed. And advise those behind by ‘shouting’ clearly “Standing!” before you commit to the action.
- Try to think about where other riders might be and how your actions may affect them. Your action near the front of the group can be magnified many times by the time it reaches the back and can result in a much more dangerous situation than is apparent.
- Try at all times to be spatially aware and communicate with each other.
Communication within the group – Hand signals and shouts
When out on the road, communication is one of the keys to the safety of all riders in a group. It’s important that information is passed quickly and clearly to all members of the group. Some shouts and signals are standard. Sometimes a shout is necessary but often a rider at the front of a group will be facing away from those behind and will use hand signals to indicate hazards or recommended actions to those behind.
Knowing what signals and shouts to use and what they mean is essential when riding in any group. These are the ones we use as common place:
This warns of a vehicle coming towards the FRONT of the group.
This warns of a vehicle coming towards the BACK of the group.
“On the left
” This shout often accompanied by putting the left arm behind the back warns following riders of an obstruction on the nearside of the road. This may be a parked car, a pedestrian etc. (Often this movement is preceded by a slapping of the hip to alert the attention of those following)
This shout accompanied by pointing to the road with the appropriate right or left hand is a warning that there is some hazard in the road. This may be a pothole, a branch, a brick, horse droppings etc.
“Loose” This shout indicates a loose road surface such as gravel, mud or broken tarmac and is accompanied by shaking a hand over the road.
“Easy” This is a request to slow down and be careful, for example because there is a hazard ahead, a dog, some walkers etc. This shout is also used when approaching a junction or if there is a problem within the group, or because the group is breaking up because the speed is too high.
“Stopping” This is self explanatory. The group should avoid sudden braking and spreading across the road
“Puncture” If you have a puncture (or a mechanical problem) then use this shout, it is important that you hold your line as you slow down, don’t swerve or break suddenly, then the other riders can overtake or slow down in an orderly fashion and pull in to the side of the road at a safe spot and get off the road. Don’t just stop and spread out over the road.
“Horse” We often encounter horses and riders on country roads. Remember horses are unpredictable animals. The rider on the front of the group, as well as warning the group with a shout of “Horse” should shout a warning to the horse rider of “cyclists behind”. Then, making sure that the horse rider is aware that we intend to pass, the group should then pass slowly and wide. Once past don’t forget to keep riding slowly so that the group can reform.
“Clear” When turning at a T junction,’Clear’ is an indication that the road is completely clear in both directions. If riders are turning left, ‘Clear right’ indicates that there are no vehicles approaching from the right of the junction so a left turn is possible. BUT PLEASE NOTE: A shout of ‘clear’ is never ever a justification for not checking and pulling out. It is every rider’s responsibility to ensure the road is clear for them. These shouts are for assistance and smooth flow NOT guidance as to what you should or shouldn’t do. Cars can come round corners quickly and clear one minute might be busy when you reach the junction. ‘STOP’ is a command to stop at the junction because of traffic or hazards.
- It is required that every member shall make sure that their bike is in good working order before each ride. In particular make sure your brakes work effectively and that your tyres are not wearing thin, worn tyres cause unnecessary punctures and a potential hazard in a fast-moving group.
- Keeping the bike clean, especially in the winter, helps maintain your bike in good order. Don’t forget, if your bike breaks down through poor maintenance then you could be causing an unnecessary hold-up to your fellow Club members.
- Every member must carry a functioning pump, at least one spare inner tube and some basic tools and don’t forget some money for a possible tea stop and emergencies.
- All bikes must be equipped with 2 independent braking systems, one front and one rear, operated by levers from the handlebars.
- It is recommended that tri-bars should not be fitted for club rides or training runs and, if fitted, should not be used.
- The use of mobile phones whilst riding in a group is not allowed, please feel free to carry a mobile for emergency use. However, making and receiving calls whilst riding in a group can be dangerous. If you carry a mobile phone do not stop suddenly if it rings. Warn the riders around you before pulling in — slowly.
Taking turns on the front
It is usual when riding in a tight group that all members of the group should take a turn at the front, particularly when the group is riding into a strong head wind or other adverse weather.
It is recommended that all members use the following procedure to change at the front as and when road conditions will allow:
- The rider on the outside at the front accelerates and moves over in front of the nearside rider. The outside riders then move up two positions and the last rider on the inside will move to the outside to reform into pairs at the rear.
- Don’t hog the front. You may think that you are helping the rest of the group by staying on the front for a long stretch but in fact that is not always the case. The only way Club members will improve their cycling is by taking a fully active part in the rides and riding on the front is one of the disciplines that all should take part in.
- Try to do a maximum of only 2 or 3 minutes on the front, (or less depending on how you are feeling) then change, that way every rider gets a turn without overdoing it. It also ensures that the group stays together as the rider at the back is constantly changing.
- When at the front of the group in pairs don’t half-wheel the rider next to you (that is don’t ride with your front wheel always slightly ahead of him/her). This is not only anti-social but also causes the pace to rise as the rider who is being half-wheeled tries to keep up with the other rider thus destroying the whole ride.
- When riding at the front, you MUST keep pedalling, even when descending to prevent the group bunching up at the back. If you need to ‘free wheel’ because you are tired, you must move off the front of the ride.
Cycling specific clothing is not absolutely necessary but is desirable as it is generally clothing which is aerodynamic and without flaps which could catch in equipment.
It is a good idea to carry a waterproof /windproof cape in the winter even if rain is unlikely; a windproof can help keep you warm if the weather turns colder than you thought. In the winter it is generally better to be too warm than too cold!
Please be mindful we operate a no helmet no ride policy so do not want to put other members in the unenviable position of advising you of this.