Riding Etiquette

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Hello fellow MIT’ers!

I am writing this note to all who participate in the weekly rides that we all enjoy.

When the group rides started a few years back, there might have been four or five riders that showed up on a regular basis. The recent increase in ‘ridership’ from last year to this has been phenomenal with group rides of up to 16 or 17 riders. It amazes those of us who started riding together a few years back how the group has grown. However, as the size of the group rides has increased so have the dynamics of the rides. We are challenged by the fact that we have not all been riding together for a long period of time and are still getting to know each other’s riding abilities and styles.

Some of us have spent a lot of time riding together in pace lines and pelotons and are familiar with each other’s abilities and styles and can predict without speaking as to what the other rider is going to do. As we get new riders who may or may not be familiar with riding in large groups I think we need to all be on the same “Page” so to speak, so that we avoid any unnecessary accidents or incidents.

I would like to suggest that we set a few guidelines for our group rides so that we all know what is expected of each of us as MIT riders.

Pace lines

1- On rides of 6 or more riders I feel we should be riding DOUBLE pace lines on the roads that do not have paved shoulders. This will do two things: (1) make us more visible to oncoming traffic and (2) force drivers coming from behind to slow down or move over. I am sure there have been times when each of us has had some idiot who’s going 100 km/h pass within inches.

2- Pulling in the pace line. Everyone knows about taking a turn pulling the pace line. When it’s time to pull and the rider in front has pulled to the left or right to allow you to move to the front of the pace line it is important to know that you are not supposed to speed up, rather maintain a steady speed and let the rider that has pulled out “drop” to the back of the pace line. This eliminates the surge effect that can result in the rider behind you running into your rear wheel and potentially causing an accident.

3- When you are pulling the pace line it is IMPERATIVE that you signal your intentions both verbally and with hand signals. No sudden braking; at 30 km/h or more the person behind you will have little or no chance of avoiding your rear tire. Yell out that you are slowing down so that people can hear you. Oncoming obstacles should be pointed out so that the riders behind can avoid them as well. This can be done by pointing and yelling. Remember, when you are at the front of the pace line you are like the head of the snake — everyone behind is following you!

4- When pulling out to drop and let the rider behind take the lead position, indicate with a hand gesture that that you are giving up the lead position. In a double line this can be done by pointing to the area between you and your partner. The rider on the righthand side will drop out of the pace line to the right and the rider on the left will drop out to the left. The two riders that have pulled out of the pace line will DROP BACK as the pace line continues to maintain a CONSTANT SPEED. If you are pulling in a single pace line the same rules apply, only you will wave the pace line forward as you pull out.

5- When you are riding in the pace line you should avoid any sudden braking or unpredictable movements. Hold a steady line and speed! If you need to slow down due to fatigue let your intentions be known! If you can safely pull out of the pace line, indicate your intention, pull out, and then slow down. Remember, there may be riders behind you!

6- Finally, if there is something about riding in the pace line that you are not sure about, ask another rider and I’m sure you will get an answer! One of the great things about MIT is that we welcome riders of all skill levels. We have riders that compete in various events and we have riders that simply love to ride. We need to remember that the MIT rides are not meant to be competitive; rather, they are more of a social gathering. This is not to say that we need to ride 15 km/h. We just need to remember that we are not all at the same skill or physical fitness level.

Remember, we should NEVER leave a rider behind for any reason.

There will always be the sprints and breakaways; however, we need to remember why we are riding as group!

5 thoughts on “Riding Etiquette

  1. All good points, I’d support that (if I don’t forget when I’m determined to catch Merle’s wheel….).

  2. Great tips, as a ‘part-time’ wannabe, please remind me when i’m ‘out-of-line’ in any way! Thanks!

  3. Good rules Paul. It’s high time they were written down. In addition, when a “townline” sprint is going to happen, cyclists involved should signal their intentions well in advance.

  4. This is great – I need whatever tips possible as I am new to the group riding dynamic. I sure do love the advantage of being “towed” for a while though! I echo the sentiment of “please tell me if I do something out of line.”

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