Many of the complaints cyclists hear from motorists seem to revolve around group rides — cyclists not stopping at stop signs, riding more than two abreast, or not showing consideration for motorists queued up behind a large peloton. And in truth, large groups often do seem to bring out the worst behavior, as if there’s a none-too-subtle peer pressure to ride aggressively.
An article in The Oregonian (Bike ride leaders react to perils with awareness) discusses what one Portland-area cycling club has done to improve the safety of their rides:
On Saturday mornings this month, Ohnstad is leading three- and four-hour cycling adventures along scenic back roads throughout the county. He expects 70 to 120 riders to participate in each ride.
Unlike past rides, when any free spirit could join, only those who agree to the club’s new code of conduct will be allowed to accompany the group. Riders must agree to wear a helmet, follow leaders’ hand signals, call out road and traffic hazards and obey traffic laws.
“I’m telling everyone that we have to share responsibility along with drivers for what happens in traffic,” he said. “One way to do that is make our actions on the road predictable to motorized vehicles.”
One weekly group ride I participate in begins each ride with a “safety talk”, in which one or more riders bring up a suggestion or a concern, and the group discusses this for a few minutes before hitting the road. This are occasionally a few awkward moments as poor decisions or dangerous behaviors are bought up, but the overall tone is positive, rather than critical, and the discussions haven’t seemed to chase anyone away.
Now, this is a small group, and this approach may not work for larger rides, but I for one appreciate the sentiment, and often find the discussions valuable.
Do any of your club or group rides include a code of conduct or a safety talk?