Group Riding: Guidance and Principles

Our Group Riding Guidance & Principles

CTC Exeter bases its activities around group riding – it is a superbly enjoyable activity. To enjoy these activities to the full, we want them to be as safe as possible, so we follow a few principles.

When riding with the Club, we all have a responsibility to create a good image of the Club and of cycling itself. Be considerate and courteous – it costs nothing and it’s nice to do, and nice to receive. Take a moment to review the Highway Code. Group Riding is a sociable activity – be aware you ARE in a group so take care to concentrate on your riding. The safety of you, and the group around you, depends on it. Distractions can cause calamity !

All our rides have a leader. Sometimes, there will also be a ‘back-marker’ or ‘sweeper’ who can help if a rider encounters problems. The leader sets the pace, adjusting it to the needs of the group. So:

Let the leader lead !

If you overtake the leader you’re on your own! To re-join, wait at some safe point for the group to catch up.

Don’t leave the group without letting him/her know as the leader will be constantly counting, and accounting for everyone in the group

When group-riding, take care of the other riders in the group around you. Always be aware of where they are, especially those behind you.


Five golden rules:

  • Try to ride and brake as smoothly as possible – it’s sudden unexpected movements that cause problems in a group.
  • Give good clear signals – hand signals are most likely to be seen when you give them for 5 seconds or so
  • Never ride more than two abreast
  • Don’t stop or change direction suddenly and/or without warning
  • Listen, watch out for, and give or pass on advisory messages - we have a standard set of ‘Shouts and Signals’.

Be aware that although the leader has regard for the safety of the group, you are responsible for your own safety.

To allow traffic to pass on Devon’s lanes, we frequently have to ‘single out’ at the call of ‘Car up’. Please do so promptly, taking due care of the riders around you. Sometimes double-file is safer, as drivers can then overtake a line of cyclists half the length.

When ‘singling out’, usually the inside rider moves forward and the outside rider drops in behind.

Pulling off the road to allow a vehicle to pass can cause chaos in a group. Try not to do this unless it is clearly beneficial and safe to all, but always take the leader’s guidance. Remember you are not a second-class road user just because you have a human-powered vehicle – you have an equal right to use the road along with all other road-users. Bear in mind, too, that ‘singling out’ may encourage cars to overtake where the road is too narrow to do so safely, and staying in double-file might be safest. Try not to hold up following traffic unnecessarily. Refer also to the Highway Code.

Try not to ride too close. In a relaxed situation like a club ride you can usually ride around a metre behind and/or a metre apart. But if riding faster, you may need to follow more closely to slip-stream, and ride much more smoothly.

If there’s a significant hazard ahead such as a sharp corner, an obstacle, or a pothole ahead, signal to the riders behind you – riders who are following you closely may not be able to see the hazard.

If you are riding with a large group, of say 8 or more, it may be best to split into smaller groups of no more than 6 with enough distance to allow cars to overtake each smaller group where it is safe. Always take the leader’s guidance although sometimes it might be best to JDI (Just Do It !) When stopping to ‘re-group’, find a safe location to do this, usually a little way away from junctions so as not to obstruct sight-lines or present hazards to other road-users. Always, though, take the leader’s guidance. Familiarise yourself with, and use the standard set of ‘Shouts and Signals’ that we use in our group riding.

When passing pedestrians, try and give them plenty of room, and try and warn them of your presence in good time and not startle them. It’s good to get a response from them as it shows they have heard or seen you.

Finally – Enjoy the ride !!!