Dangers of Cycling in Groups
Riding your bicycle, as a mode of everyday transportation or for recreation, can be a healthy and inexpensive way to get around the city. Cycling around a busy city, like New York, requires a smart, aware, and skilled rider. Riding your bicycle alone can be dangerous, but riding in a group can be even more difficult and dangerous, especially when navigated through streets filled with vehicles. According to the League of American Bicyclists, over 700 cyclists, throughout the U.S., are killed in traffic accidents each year; all which could have been most likely preventable if the people involved had been more attentive. Hundreds of innocent people are injured due to the negligence of motorists, who may have disobeyed the rules of the road. Cyclists, traveling in a group, should be aware of dangers and follow safety tips, to ensure that they do not become another injured victim on our roadways.
Cycling with Friends, Stay Safe
When we think of a group of cyclists riding, we may have a vision of Tour de France, where the roads are narrow and winding with cyclists traveling at top speeds, not needing to worry about competing with car traffic. Realistically, cyclists in a group need to share the narrow city streets with multiple sizes of vehicles, from small sedans to taxi cabs to delivery trucks. With the hustle and bustle of a New York street, it’s important to be seen by all motorists and pedestrians. Just because you are traveling in a group, you cannot assume that you are more visible than if you were cycling alone. Some of the same safety tips apply to a group of cyclists as to a single cyclist:
- Be visible: Wear bright clothing and try to ride in daylight hours
- Protect Yourself: Wear a helmet. When riding in a group, there’s a greater chance of wiping out or crashing with another cyclist. Helmets are essential as they are known to save lives.
- Signal, Make Eye Contact: It is important that you signal your turns or stops. By making eye contact with a motorist, pedestrian or a fellow cyclist is your way of communicating. You cannot always rely on speaking, as someone may not hear you. As a group, you are all responsible for communicating your decisions while traveling in a “pack”. If you are at the end of the group, you may not see the cyclist at the front signaling his turn. (Think of the game of “telephone”). It’s best to make sure that you pass the verbal and non-verbal commands throughout your group of riders.
- Keep your eyes on the road: While you may want to rely on the riders in front of you to give you “cues”, it’s important to keep your head up, looking around and if possible down the road, ahead of you.
- Don’t Do What Others Do: While riding in a group, there may be the “adventurous” one who doesn’t use common sense or think about safety. If you notice that others are ignoring traffic signals or failing to signal, don’t copy what they do. If being safe means getting behind in the group, do it.
Safe Cyclists Follow the Laws
Cyclists are required and expected to follow the same traffic laws, as motorists.
- Stay to the Right: When in a group, ride in the right portion of the road, the bicycle lane if possible. Keep enough space between you and parked cars. That said; beware of car doors that open suddenly! You may move to the left if you are able to safely and lawfully pass a slow moving vehicle or if you need to make a left turn.
- Obey the Signs: Follow all traffic signs, signals and lights. Remember, if it separates you from the pack, you’ll catch up later. Don’t risk an accident just to stay with the group.
Two at a time: When riding in a group, it’s important that you ride no more than two abreast (side by side). If a bike lane is available and wide enough, you may ride with more. However, when first riding in a group it may take practice and a lot of communication to ride next to someone. If you don’t feel safe or comfortable, don’t do it.
Cycling in a group can be a fun, healthy activity to do with friends. Following the law and safety rules, can make your journey even more fun. Cycling in the city can be dangerous and even more so with a group. While the “pack mentality” might be a challenging experience, don’t let it cause an accident that could leave you and your cycling friends injured or worse.