Whether you’re cycling in traffic alongside other commuters or riding out into the countryside with friends and club-mates, riding in a bunch takes diligence and a few golden rules…
Some people find they commute all or part of the way to and from work alone. But if you cycle in a city like London you’ll have to negotiate other riders every day, as well as motorists, buses, HGVs and pedestrians.
Giving clear signals to other road users is essential, so if you’re changing lane or turning, let others know well in advance. You can cycle two abreast but it’s advisable to cycle single file on narrow and busy roads and when riding around bends.
There’s a good deal of competition out there, even on commutes, and while it’s tempting to overtake a slower rider, overtaking them as you near the crest of a hill or when the road isn’t clear can be dangerous.
Always check the traffic behind by looking over your right shoulder, look ahead to see if there are any potential obstacles and ensure you ride around your fellow cyclists on the right, giving them a decent berth in case they suddenly decide to move out.
It is also very advisable (and courteous) to give your fellow rider a polite audible signal such as ‘On your right’ or a cheery ‘Morning!’
Of course, it’s not always possible to overtake and if you’re riding in a group of cyclists, you’ll inevitably have to sit behind another rider.
Always make sure your front wheel doesn’t overlap with the rear wheel of the rider in front. Known as ‘half-wheeling’, this is one of the most common causes of crashes between cyclists. The danger is the rider in front may move across, suddenly brake, and both riders (or more) come to an abrupt and potentially dangerous halt. Sudden braking is of course something to avoid, e.g. in winter conditions (but is sometimes necessary in urban situations).
Linked to this is being able to hold your line – keeping a steady position among other riders will make things safer for you and them. You should also try to signal any hazards to fellow road-users with hand gestures or verbal warnings.
Overall, keep looking ahead, stay aware, communicate and relax and enjoy the ride!