A Brief Guide to Safe Cycling and Group Riding

by Dave Fleming

In a nutshell: ride a dependable bike, obey the traffic laws and be courteous to others.

1) Your bike.  Before every ride check your tire pressure, make sure brakes and gears are good to go and chain lubricated.  Ensure that the saddle and handlebars are correctly positioned.
- Many cyclists use a mirror on the bike, eye glasses or helmet.
- It's a good idea to have a flashing red tail-light and a white front light especially in the evening or on foggy days.
- Bring a spare tube, patching kit, pump and basic tools. ( Don't forget the tire levers like I once did!)
- Wear bright clothing and an approved helmet. Most cyclists do these days.
- Bring I.D., health card, and perhaps a cellphone.
- Fill your water bottle and bring a snack if the ride is a longer one.
2) Traffic laws and cycling calls
- Obey stop signs, red lights and yield signs.
- Signal turns to other drivers and cyclists.
- Ride two abreast only when safe to do so. Single file is better on busy or narrow, winding roads.  Stay as far to the right shoulder as practicable.
- Use bike lanes or paved shoulders when available ( don't we wish...)
- Since the 1930's cyclists have used traditional calls and signs:
- "Car back" - vehicle coming from behind
- "Car up" - vehicle ahead
- "Hole" or "Bump" - point down at hazard
- "Loose" or "Gravel" -point down and waggle fingers
- " On your left" -when passing another cyclist ( don't pass on the right, as a rule)
- " Slowing", "stopping" - extend arm downwards, palm back.
- "All clear" - when safe for group to cross intersection or enter roadway
3) Group Ettiquette
-  Be aware, obviously, of others around you. Use a shoulder check and signal your intention when changing position.
- When following another rider, don't overlap his or her wheel. If wheels touch, the following rider will often crash.
- When stopping to regroup, don't loiter all over the corner or road, obstructing traffic.
- Try to ride at a steady, comfortable pace. Don't race ahead like " Johnny Rebel" leaving the others scrambling to keep up. ( Unless, of course, you're in the Tour de France on a solo breakaway over the Galibier Pass!)
- Learn how to ride in an echelon* - a great way to overcome a long, windy stretch of road. This kind of teamwork can be one of the joys of group cycling.
*In the future, we plan to have a cycling workshop on drafting and echelon riding.
For further information and safety tips checkout these links:
www.bikequarterly.com  (The passion of cycling)
www. safecycling.ca ( Bike Ottawa) ( Be safe, be seen video)
www.durhamcycling.com  (group riding video)
Dave Fleming is an OVCATA member who lives in Cobden and still rides the Peugot PX-10 he bought 50 years ago.