Cycling Etiquette

Posted: March 25, 2011 in 2011, General

As sent to me by a roadie mate (hence the road oriented bias). There are little gems hidden away in there so you’ll have to read it all!  In case anyone is in any doubt it is a spoof set of ‘rules’ so don’t take them seriously.

Ride Conduct and Etiquette

Club Rides are more-or-less races and members are expected to treat them appropriately. In order to ensure that rides remain safe as well as good fun, it is important that everyone follows a set of rules. The Club is not responsible for your safety; everyone on the ride must be responsible for their own safety, and, by their behaviour, ensure the safety of other Club members. Always bear in mind that not everyone in the group may be as confident or have as good bike handling skills as you.

Below are some basic rules to follow set out as follows:

  1. 1.  Do’s
  2. 2.  Don’ts
  3. 3.  Calls
  4. 4.  Hand Signals

Please apply these rules when you are next on a group ride, and where others don’t, please politely inform them of the proper cycling etiquette.




  1. Follow the Highway Code at all times – it applies to ALL road-users. (Except lorry drivers, motorists and the Police!)
  2. The Club strongly advises that you wear a well-fitted cycling helmet. (none really available, you will just have to get one that nearly fits)
  3. Ensure your bike is road-worthy, the brakes are fully operational and that your tyres are pumped up to an appropriate pressure for the road conditions and weather. For winter riding, fit mudguards to protect yourself and the person behind you from water and mud spray, which can be a hazard.
  4. Bring puncture kit, tyre levers, inner tubes x 2, pump, multi-tool (including chain tool), helmet, waterproof jacket, food, water/energy drink, money, mobile phone (to call for the sag wagon when you get the puncture that you can’t bothered to fix), contact details in emergency.
  5. Dress in appropriate clothing for the weather. (flip-flops and shorts for the beach, hiking boots for Hill walking)
  6. Wear appropriate reflective bright red clothing and ensure you have working lights on the front and rear of your bike. (This will give cars something to aim at) Rear lights are advised for day riding in dull conditions too for the same reasons, we have I am sure all taken our eyes off the target; these lights help to re-focus. Quite frankly advise your next of kin when you are out and request a bed at the WSH because the standard of driving is only going to get worse, remember the saying “I didn’t seem him/her!” you’re going to hear it more.
  7. When conditions permit, cycle a maximum of two abreast in 2 close parallel lines, this will stop cars squeezing by and driving at the oncoming traffic, which sadly is becoming more prevalent, focus on keeping it neat and tidy. If the group size is over 16 people even better, you will, if you have anything about you, have a free ride and draft your way to the café stop.
  8. Ride directly behind the rider in front of you, with a minimum of 2-6cms between your front wheel and the back wheel of the rider in front, this will give you maximum draft, don’t be put off by any intimidation by the rider in front, he is there to make your ride more comfortable and less tiring, remember you use about 25% less energy when drafting, and, when they are stronger than you means you can keep up! There should also be about 150cms between your shoulders and the rider beside you, again this will help in the drafting stakes and keep the dreaded side-wind off you.
  9. Be prepared on small or busy roads to ride with cars shouting abuse at you and unable to pass your fast (20mph) group without either just missing the outside riders by inches or seemingly unable to see any oncoming vehicles almost causing an accident.
  10. Riders at the back of the pack to shout “Car behind, single file” if there are vehicles behind. Listen and act on their call, Look back and check for yourself, wobble and brake as you will move off your line and cause a huge disruption and even an accident.
  11. Lead cyclists to navigate and point out hazards in the road by either shouting or using hand signals, preferably both. Listen to them and act on the calls, and most importantly, repeat them for the cyclist behind you.
  12. Ride directly behind the wheel of the rider in front. If the inside rider cycles in the middle of the two wheels in front of you, you WILL push the cyclist on your outside into the path of passing vehicles.
  13. Brake as gently and smoothly as you safely can when riding in a pack
  14. Cover your brakes when appropriate but always when in close formation.
  15. When on the front keep pedalling, this is particularly important going downhill. If you freewheel everyone behind may have to brake.
  16. Talk to each other. But don’t lose concentration on what is happening around you. Point out with hand signals and shouts, all potholes, manhole covers and other dangers in the road that could cause a puncture or an accident. Follow the hand signals and calls of the riders in front as they will have seen the danger before you, and then you must communicate down the pack.
  17. If you are at the back of the group and you, or someone else is being dropped, keep quiet it is your responsibility to watch them gradually suffer more then slide right out the back, if you shout out the lead cyclists will only speed up.
  18. When asked to “ease up’ or “slow a little” do not brake suddenly Keep the power on, in fact, increase it, now you know someone is suffering. Gently ease your pace by pedalling less hard as freewheeling will definitely be seen as a sign of weakness. Look at your speedo frequently, this distraction may cause you to wobble, this will really put the riders who are on your wheel off! Remember – if someone is being dropped you really only need to speed up a little to drop them.
  19.  Keep the pace hard and varied; smooth and constant would keep the group together, keeping the pack as a compact unit will only lead to you having to out-sprint more riders at the primes!
  20. Check over your shoulder for other riders or traffic before moving out to the right
  21. Slow right down when passing horses, and pass them as wide as it is safe to do so. Always call to the horse riders well ahead of catching them – a cheery “Good morning” or “Hello”. Keep calling until the riders indicate they know you are there. They may want to turn the horse so it can see you.
  22. If you are on the front, remember that people are following your calls. Stop at T junctions and only pull out when it is safe for the whole group to make the move. If you decide to pull out on a roundabout or junction, you need to call “Clear”, – or “Wait” – to warn the pack of hazards.
  23. If you are feeling tired don’t let people know. Accidents happen when people are tired and lose concentration. Everyone gets tired, don’t let people know you are tired though as they will speed up and drop you out the back as soon as blink, whether you are miles away from home or only just one hill away.
  24. Cycle with confidence. If you’re nervous you will tense up and then are less likely to be able to respond to things quickly.
  25. If you puncture, shout “Puncture”. Ease down slowly, so the rider behind does not hit you. Get your bike off the road to replace the tube. Other bikes and riders must not impede the flow of traffic.



  1. Don’t overlap wheels, or nudge in between the wheels of the riders in front. You may come off if they move off their line
  2. Don’t forget to ride on tri/aero bars in packs as you will not be able to brake or steer quickly and lets face it you are out with your mates so causing them harm because of your stupidity can only be a good thing and no less, save you from having to send them Christmas cards now that they hate you as well, and don’t forget to wear earphones as you won’t be able to hear warning shouts and any other forms of verbal abuse or your mobile phone when it is ringing as you are doing 40mph down that really steep hill.
  3. Don’t make any sudden movements/changes in direction off your line when in the pack. You are responsible for the cyclist behind you, they are following YOUR wheel, they need to trust you.
  4. Don’t forget to ride hard off the front. This is a group ride and therefore a race. If you want to go faster then don’t let the others know what you are going to do until it is too late and if no one wants to join you then blast off into the distance to show how strong you really are even though you don’t want to enter a real race!
  5. Don’t stop pedalling if you are on the front, even downhill. The cyclists behind you may read this as you slowing and could be forced to brake and bunch up.
  6. Don’t focus only on the wheel in front. Keep aware of everything that is going on around you, look ahead and that way you can avoid most hazards.
  7. Don’t whip round the outside of the pack to get to the front unless in an emergency. Shout up the pack any communication. If you do need to get to the front then make sure you check in front and behind for cars, remember three abreast will push you out into oncoming traffic.
  8. Don’t pull out at junctions without looking. Look to see if there is a vehicle coming before you pull out. It’s your head that will get crushed if you don’t
  9. 9. Don’t forget to take a detour, go home, or ride on at the café, without telling the ride leader it makes for a conversation point after your gone, especially many hours later with comments like “Where’s Damien? Oh we dropped him on the first hill, now there’ll be hell to pay”
  10. Don’t forget to speed up on hills. This means that if you climb faster than others you can really make them struggle the whole ride and, wait long enough at the top to regroup then put the hammer back down ‘til you hear wheezing behind and nothing else!
  11. Don’t forget to sprint for road signs. The long-held practice of sprinting for road signs adds to the enjoyment of the ride and puts your fellow riders in their place.
  12. Don’t take toilet breaks in full view of the public, or riders of the opposite sex in your Group.




These are some calls you might hear. It is essential that you repeat them up and down the pack so everyone can hear, especially the audio impaired amongst us

  1. Car Up/Behind”  Keep tight to the cyclist next to you, and be prepared to cycle in single file
  2. Hole” Upcoming pothole to avoid. This can also be followed by a direction i.e “HOLE LEFT”.
  3. Slowing” Usually accompanied by a hand signal. The cyclist in front needs to slow down for some reason.
  4. Stopping” Brake!
  5. Wait”  Usually at junctions to indicate there is a car coming
  6. Clear” To indicate that a junction is traffic free. You must check yourself and not rely on others.
  7. “On the left” A hazard on the left. Be prepared to pull out to pass it
  8. “Single out/ single file” Get into single file safely and promptly. Outside rider to speed up so he/she can pull in, inside rider to let them in


These are some hand signals (other than the obvious left and right turns!) It is essential that you repeat them so everyone can see and pass it on:

  1. Single hand up in the air. Rider is signalling that he/she needs to stop or slow down. Usually followed by the call ‘Slowing’, ‘Stopping’.
  2. Pointing down at the road. This is to point out hazards such as pot holes, manhole covers etc. PLEASE copy this signal, it stops accidents and punctures
  3. .Arm out left or right. Everyone in the pack needs to indicate when turning left or right
  4. Left arm signalling behind back. Signal the cyclist is about to move out into the road, e.g. to pass a parked car, to go round debris in the road.
  1. PeterH says:

    Have I read that right? Part of the rules are you must show no weakness and punish slower rides? 🙂

  2. slowjo61 says:

    You migtht think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment! ;0)

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