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Thame Cycling Club – Riding Code


A brief guide on how we proceed to ensure our safety
Road traffic laws developed over years enable UK to achieve one of the lowest fatality  rates  internationally.  Other factors such as;  seatbelts, airbags, road improvements and emergency medicine have also made major a contribution as  has the reduction in road use by pedestrians and children.  Cycling is now counter to this trend of withdrawal so we have most to gain from rigorous observation of traffic laws and must play our part both in observing them and being courteous to other road users.  Most motorists are well-disposed to us and we should strive to retain this goodwill.  The few words of guidance below enabling us to ride in an orderly predictable manner will help in this.
  • We ride shoulder to shoulder in pairs with each pair following in line behind the preceding riders closely to avoid gaps but taking care not to overlap wheels.   A rear mudguard in wet weather makes following in line less unpleasant.
  •  The safety and pleasure for all in the group largely depends on the two lead riders maintaining a steady effort (note NOT pace) which accommodates everyone. Other than on sharp corners or steep descents the lead riders should not freewheel as it will cause all following to brake.
  •  The lead rider on the inside rides over half a metre (diameter of bike wheel) from the verge to allow following riders to see the edge of the road which is often broken up.  Following riders should maintain this distance by riding in line and not in echelon.
  • Lead riders point out pot-holes and other hazards and adopt a line to avoid them well in advance.   Following riders relay this information back along the group.  
  • Lead riders should avoid “half-wheeling”.  This is the tendency ( a compulsion with some)  to always keep a little ahead of the other rider.  Learn to be companionable rather than competitive.
  • On narrow roads the inside lead rider enters corners about half a bike length in advance of the other rider.  This enables him/her to single up easily if a vehicle approaches by accelerating while the other rider moves in behind the rear wheel.   The other riders position themselves similarly.   This is also how we single up to allow traffic from behind to overtake on narrow roads.
  • When riding in a group think tram-lines and do not move out of your line without looking behind for other riders.  The term “peleton” used to describe a group of cyclists derives from the French for platoon so implies discipline.
  • At road junctions do not move up among the traffic which has already overtaken us but stay in formation.
  • If you have to stop for a puncture or some other problem, warn others and move out of the line before gently braking on the unpunctured wheel.
  • When getting out of the saddle on hills, remember that your centre of gravity is going forward and upward significantly slowing your bike into the space occupied by the ride behind.  Do not take my word for this: explained by Newton’s 3rd law of motion.  Avoid causing a problem by continuing to pedal with a little more effort during the transition.
  • We are mainly on quiet roads so the safest procedure with traffic from behind is to stay in formation and let the driver decide when to overtake. When we do use a busy road we ride in a single line.  There are some aggressive drivers:  there is nothing we can do about that other than avoid getting into exchanges of ill-will by word or by gesture other than a cheery wave.
  • Descend hills at a speed you are comfortable with and follow your own line. Increase stability on corners by putting your weight on the pedal on the outside of the bend – this lowers your centre of gravity and keeps the inner pedal clear of the road.
  • Safest strategy on roundabouts is to occupy the lane next to the island where traffic is slowest. Move out to exit after making eye contact with driver on you left and signalling your intention.  If driver does not give way, lap the roundabout and try again.
  •  Bear in mind that while we ride in close formation, the more space we occupy the more we are given. Cyclists should not think of themselves as “holding up the traffic”  
Have Fun!!
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