Cycling Safety in Group Rides and “Pace Lines”
Florida is fast becoming the place to go for year-round cycling. Our great weather and flat terrain have given rise to a new type of tourism call “Cycling Tourism”. Many of these rides are structured as “group rides”.
Group rides can take the form of slow-paced rides at “conversational pace” which often lead from tourist trap to tourist trap. Many people come to Florida for just such a ride. Another type of group ride is more of a “pace line” racing format. Both types of rides take advantage of the fact that riders who are close together can “draft” off of the riders in front of them, thus gaining aerodynamic efficiencies and traveling farther, faster and with less effort.
Because the nature of group rides requires that the riders be close to each other, the risks of accidents are much higher than individual rides. A whole new set of unofficial rules and etiquette has arisen in the cycling community among group riders. Failure to follow safety protocol often leads to accidents and “pile ups” involving many cyclists. The following safety guidelines will promote your safety and the safety of other cyclists too:
1. Be predictable and ride smoothly and at a steady pace. Pace lines are most efficient when everyone can “draft” the person in front of them with confidence that no sudden stops or weaving will occur.
2. Don’t brake suddenly.
3. Don’t overlap your front wheel with the cyclist in front of you. When tires “kiss”, one or both riders often lose control. This is probably the most common collision in group riding environments.
4. Don’t use aerobars or hand positions which put your hands at a distance from your brake levers. Sudden stops by the person in front of you require immediate action on your part.
5. Use hand signals and call out your intentions to riders behind you.
6. Give verbal warnings of road hazards
7. Watch for traffic approaching from the rear and all sides.
Attorney, Charles Geary is a lifelong cyclist, and he practices injury and accident law with the law firm of Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith, PLLC. Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith, PLLC is a third generation law firm which represents cyclists and motorcyclists all over Florida. He is available 24/7 to answer your bicycling and motorcycling accident questions. Call anytime at 772-283-6839.