Bunch riding has unwritten rules that all riders need to learn for everyone’s safety.
The objectives of bunch riding are :-
- Social bunch riding usually starts with enthusiasm & often finishes with coffee.
- The bunch should be one tight continuous cycling unit – riding two abreast and following the wheel ahead. By riding as a tight unit – riders gain the benefits of increased overall speed, reduced wind resistance and increased safety.
- Riding at the correct speed to suit the road conditions, weather and cyclists skills.
- Bunch riders should be aware on the road and communicate with each other
- Being part of the bunch means sharing and improving each others cycling skills.
- Bunch rides are not an organised club so are not covered by any group insurances etc.
CYCLISTS – As a cyclist you are ‘driving’ a legal vehicle with the same rights and responsibilities as any other driver on the roads. Plus additional specific cyclists rules including:-
- Cyclists can ride on the road or footpath.
- Cyclists have special rules at roundabouts.
- Give way rules apply to cyclists.
- Cyclists can ride in bus lanes.
- Cyclists can overtake on the left.
Check with Qld Transport www.transport.qld.gov.au for current traffic and cycling rules. Local govt rules can prohibit some specific cycling activities and rules can change with interstate cycling.
The road rules allow cyclists to ride two abreast and no further than 1.5m apart.
A well organised bunch should keep to the left and be two abreast with two continuous lines of bikes each following the wheel in front. This indicates to motorists that we are well organised, know the road rules and are safety conscious. Don’t just following the wheel in front – keep an eye on the lead riders, road hazards and traffic.
Holding your line.
As you corner, maintain the line which follows the wheel of the lead cyclist – their job is to select a smooth flowing path which maintains the bunch speed, avoids potholes etc and allows cornering room so that the cyclist beside you doesn’t get squeezed into the gutter.
Cyclists are a chatty lot and need to be because the road harbours a few hazards.
Motorists can’t read minds so get into the habit of always calling and signalling :-
- Right or left turn – signal with right or left hand.
- Hazard on road – hand pointing and call if necessary for glass, pothole, branch etc.
- Open car door – call “car door”.
- Car approaching – call of “car back” “car up”
- Rider approaching – call of “rider back” “rider up”
- Bunch stopping – hand signal stop and call ‘slowing’ ‘stopping’Bunch slowing – hand horizontal.
- Parked car / door hazard – hand pointing directing away.
- When an intersection is safe to turn – “clear right” “clear left”
Stay abreast with the cyclist beside you – half wheeling (riding slightly ahead of your partner) causes the other cyclist to speed up . Also don’t overlap wheels with the cyclist in front – if they have to alter course suddenly you could end up in the gutter.
The bunch speed is determined by the lead cyclists and road conditions. It’s safer to have experienced cyclists leading, riding at a constant speed which allows cyclists to chat. When on the front it’s not good to go flat out. This stretches out the bunch. Also if the lead rider is riding too slow … tell them to increase speed.
Overtaking Other Cyclists
Overtaking is best done on the right side. Always call “on the left” or “on the right” when coming up behind another cyclist. Avoid overtaking on the left … better to lose a few metres and not lose a lot of skin.
The bunch is safer as a unit. Tighter bunches get through lights and intersections quicker. If the bunch is split at lights etc the lead should slow down to let the others catch up. Conversely riders should make extra effort not to drop off the back – its not easy when you start – but the effort improves your riding performance. Once a rider drops off it takes a lot more effort to catch the bunch. Also dropped riders seem to get more red lights and traffic.
Lead Riders Stop at Amber Lights
Remember when you are in front you are not only responsible for yourself but every rider in the bunch. Bunches should stop at red lights – when on the front and you see an amber light – do not sprint through. Lead riders should monitor potential problems and give plenty of warning of impending stops or changes of pace.
Lead Riders – Knowing the Route
Only ride at the front of the bunch if you know where you are going. There are plenty of turns and intersections on Brisbane roads. It’s best to plan your ride.
Lead riders usually take turns at the front. Riding two abreast, the two front riders move to the left in single file and the bunch passes them. For a short time this creates a bunch which is three abreast so try to get to the back as soon as possible. It is important not to increase the bunch pace.
Slow down and be extra careful in wet weather. Your standard bike brake effectiveness is reduced to 25% in the wet.
- Keep feathering your brakes to dry them out.
- Avoid road markings especially lane arrows. These become very slippery in the wet.
- Avoid metal man hole covers. Again slippery in the wet.
- At intersections where engine oil builds up. Slippery in the wet.
In the wet :-
- Allow more distance to give you room to stop and react.
- Slow down to suit the conditions.
- Avoid riding if you can.
Remember motorists can’t always see you – be courteous to motorists, ride in a predictable manner and wear bright colourful clothing. Vehicle Cyclists Distance Rules
When riding cyclists are to keep a min 2m from the vehicle in front. And vehicles are required to keep a min 1m when passing a cyclist. Increase the distances with changing conditions and speeds.
Responsibility & Disclaimer
Cyclists must take individual responsibilty for :-
- Their knowledge of the Qld Road rules.
- Road worthiness of their bike.
- Insurance of your bike, third party and property.
- Wearing a helmet,
- Checking tyres, brakes, bell, gears etc before riding.
Bunch Riding Top Ten Hints/Recommendations
- Remain aware of your surroundings at all times
- Understand and effectively use the appropriate cycling hand and voice signals.
- Bunch riding is NOT a race. Always put safety before speed.
- Avoid erratic riding; hold your line, maintain the bunch speed, don’t brake suddenly.