Essential Guidelines for Safe Riding

Riding two abreast on quiet roads

Essential Guidelines for Safe Riding

How to ride with us safely

These are the Safe Riding Guidelines for CTC Lothians and Borders which are in accordance with the guidance provided by Cycling UK

Group cycling is safe provided that simple rules are followed.  Please take time to familiarise yourself with the guidelines which follow and ensure that you comply with them when taking part in member group runs.

Group awareness and communication are the key elements to group safety.
Experienced group riders are encouraged to give friendly advice on the spot to others who are not following the guidelines, in order to maintain group discipline and to progress in a safe fashion.

Non-members are welcome on the runs, and if you enjoy it enough to be a regular rider, we encourage you to join the Cycling UK.  There are many advantages in joining Cycling UK and to find out more go to

In the light of child protection legislation, our policy is that anyone under the age of 16 can only take part in our activities if accompanied by an adult who takes responsibility for them.

How our group rides:

If you are new to the group introduce yourself to the leader and tell them of any special needs or issues.  You will be asked to give your contact details and those of your emergency contact.  Make sure you have the mobile phone number of the leader in case you get separated from the group.

The run leader will give the group an indication of the proposed route at the start of the ride and will advise of any particular issues.  You should follow this advice.

Any sub group proposing a different route at any point in the day should advise the run leader and the group of its plans.

Follow the Highway Code, showing consideration for all road users.

  • In order to facilitate overtaking traffic, ride in small groups of around 6
  • Keep at least 50 metres distance between groups and significantly more if the road is particularly busy with cars stacked up waiting to pass or long vehicles.
  • Always keep to the left of the road about 2 to 3 feet from the kerb or verge.
  • You may ride 2 abreast if it is safe to do so on quiet roads or cycle paths but do continue to pay attention and don’t get distracted.
  • Allow traffic to overtake you if it is safe to do so
  • When singling out, the rider on the outside should drop back and make sure there is space to get in.
  • Never overtake to the left of the cyclist in front.
  • Do not bunch up when stopping at junctions or block the sight lines of other road users.
  • Be aware that the cyclist in front can make an unexpected move, so leave sufficient gap to be able to react and avoid colliding.
  • If you make an unexpected move, you are likely to bring down both the rider behind and yourself.  Always signal your move- shout “Slowing!”, “Stopping!”, “Passing” etc.
  • Shout and signal warnings of danger or change, e.g. uneven or loose surfaces, vehicles approaching or left and right turns.
  • Always check behind before starting off or changing direction. Be particularly careful to check behind you when turning right.
  • When turning, signal early and clearly.
  • The group will regroup at appropriate points to allow slower riders to catch up.
  • You are expected to keep up with the group.  If you lag behind, you may be asked to make the effort to close the gap.  If you are unable to do so, the back marker will advise the leader and they will discuss with you the best options to get home safely.
  • Pass a message forward if a gap develops behind you, or if a rider drops behind, e.g. with a puncture or mechanical problem.
  • Please take your turn at the front when there is a strong headwind, if you are able to do so. (Please read section below on Drafting)



Pace-lining or drafting, can prove to be extremely helpful when riding in groups in windy and adverse conditions. It is not necessarily about speed but more about preserving energy by working together in small groups of four to six individuals, often of varying fitness and ability. It helps to encourage those who may be flagging, particularly on a homeward bound stretch when legs are starting to show signs of fatigue.

Most importantly, everybody can do it and they don’t have to be completely, as they say, on the wheel of the rider in front. A distance of even half a bicycle length can give up to a 27 % decrease in wind resistance, which of course gives everybody in the group an opportunity to ease off.

Key Essentials

Riders (max 6) form a line behind one another with a short distance (30 cm or as close as they are comfortable with) between the back wheel of the rider in front and the front wheel of the next rider. The same rider will not always be at the front – see below

To lead off a group at a pace that is comfortable to all – inform those behind to shout “easy” if, at any time, the pace is too fast

Be alert to the need to set an agreed time limit for the change-over. This can be between be between 3-5 minutes or longer if preferred.

Communication within group is essential to ensure the pace is achievable and that nobody is being dropped which can prove to be energy sapping if somebody is constantly trying to catch up.

If slowing, don’t brake but just ease off – and shout “slowing”

Rotate the leader in a time-honoured fashion whereby the leader peels off to the outside (i.e. right) allowing the rest of the group to underpass i.e. pass on the ex-leaders left side before s/he latches on at the back. Just think of a Scottish Country Dancing routine, once you’ve had your turn, you’ll be back at the front in no time!

Those with computers (Garmin etc) can assess the speed that is proving to be comfortable/achievable. It can then be maintained.

It’s not a race. It’s not ego driven to prove ability. It’s about enjoyment and helping each other along.

All riders should look ahead and not constantly down at the wheel in front and as ever, remain always conscious of the need to give and receive forewarnings of upcoming road conditions; pot holes etc.

Avoid overlapping wheels unless you are extremely proficient. To be slightly offset is aerodynamically more efficient but requires skill.


If you’ve not already experienced the benefits of drafting, give it a go, concentrate and enjoy it. If you’re already familiar with the benefits, encourage others to participate and enjoy the extended opportunities.

Of course, there is absolutely no obligation to participate and Ride Leaders and Back Markers will as ever, be supportive throughout the ride.



In the event that you are threatened, assaulted or abused while riding, report the incident to the police. 101 for non-emergencies and 999 for emergencies.

Cycling UK have a web site where pot holes and other hazards can be reported

If you see potential trouble spots on Edinburgh bicycle paths etc. Contact the Community Safety Teams:  Telephone: 0131 529 7050 or report to City of Edinburgh Council

Reviewed and Updated January 2017 by Ride Leaders 2016/17

Update January 2019 reviewed by Ride Leaders 2018


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