A few basic rules all riders should follow:
- Water Bottles
- Spare tube and pump
- Copy of your insurance card and identification
A few signals help the people in the back of the pack avoid potholes and road rash. They generally can't see it until it's too late. A point with your hand is generally enough to warn the other riders. Call out if it is something particularly nasty. Something short and understandable (like "hole") is best. A few other calls that are standard in the club:
- "Tracks" - Railroad tracks
- "Glass" - Broken glass in the path
- "Car right/left" - A car is coming from that direction
- "Car back/up" - A car is coming from the rear (or front)
- "On your left/right" I am close at your side or intend to pass on your right (or left)
Do NOT call out "clear" to indicate that an intersection is free of cross traffic. Let the other riders check for themselves.
Sometimes the whole pack can't make it through an intersection. The bikers that make it through in the first wave should try to slow up a bit to let the second wave catch up before picking up the pace. Don’t take unnecessary chances to avoid getting dropped. The group should wait for you.
Stay to the right
Stay to the right of the road unless you are riding double or are passing. This will allow others to pass on your left without going into the lane of oncoming traffic. This is particularly important on the hills where the pack breaks up. Stay out of the lane of oncoming traffic. Cars travel fast and can appear suddenly. Try not to pass on the right. If you must, give an "on your right" signal.
Dealing with cars
Share the road - We have an obligation to ride in a manner that keeps conflicts to a minimum. The vast majority of the drivers are considerate of bikers. Ride in a manner that you would like to see when you overtake a group of bikers.
Communication - Avoid shouting at motorists or using nonstandard hand signals.
Riding double - Riding two abreast is okay only when the traffic is light and can be seen well in advance. But be prepared to single up quickly to allow any traffic to pass. The rider on the left should drop behind the rider on the right. The line of riders on the right will have to spread out to allow room for the riders moving in. This means the riders in the front must speed up and the riders in the rear slow up.
Stay in your lane - Stay out of the lane of the oncoming traffic at all times. Cars approach too fast for safety and drivers do not expect a rider in their lane. Avoid riding three abreast for this reason. It places the rider on the left too close to the oncoming traffic.
Stay out of the right hand turn lane when you are at a intersection waiting for the traffic to clear. This allows traffic to turn right while the pack is waiting for an opening.
Signal turns - Riders should always signal turns. Let the traffic know what to expect. Signal like you mean it. Some rider's signals are so anemic that they could go unnoticed. All riders in a pack should signal. One or two people in a pack of twenty or so is not very convincing to drivers. It can lead to confusion.
Left turns - Left turns are one of the more dangerous maneuvers for a bike in traffic and should be done with care, following the rules of the road. Remember, the car behind is anxious to get around and may be tempted to pass. Begin the turn well in advance. Signal the turn and when the traffic behind is clear, move to the left hand side of the lane. Do not pull in front of a car expecting it to slow down for you. If the driver happens to be fiddling with his radio, you will be another customer for the local ambulance company. Stay left of your lane to the intersection and turn left when the oncoming traffic is clear. Before turning, glance over your left shoulder - a car may decide to pass you on the left as you turn.
Passing cars - Think twice any time you are tempted to pass a moving car, whether on the left or right. If a car is going slow enough to pass, is probably going to do something other than go straight. It may turn into you as you pass. Be sure that you know what it will do before you pass.
Riding to the front of a line of cars at a stop light and or stop sign should be avoided. Ever notice how many people don't bother to signal? Cars can turn into you just as you start to pass. Another thing about passing cars at an intersection; those cars probably just passed you. Now they will have to pass you again you once you are through the intersection. A cyclist at the front can also slow up cars going through the intersection when the light turns green. Their patience may wear a bit thin in heavy traffic.
Stopping - Every once in a while, the pack needs to pull over while someone adjusts a brake or visits nature. Move to the side of the road and out of the lane of traffic. There is no excuse for causing congestion when we are not even riding. This seems obvious, but a surprising number of people camp out in the lane of traffic when the pack comes to a stop.
Don't surprise pedestrians. When overtaking them (or other cyclists) call out "on your left/right" well in advance. Be as polite as possible so that you don't sound like you are forcing them off the road. Let them know where you intend to go and then be ready for them to jump in front of you; sometimes they will!