By Eli Post
We engage in pleasantries in our normal life. That’s what civilized people do. That practice also extends to bike riding. Perhaps the most common courtesy is saying “passing on your left,” so those ahead of you know you are approaching from behind and coming their way. This is not only courteous. It is also a simple way to avoid collisions.
There are other commonly used courtesies, which all apply to group riding and make us safer on the road.
Communicate when Slowing or Stopping: It may not be apparent to those behind you that you are slowing down or even stopping. You must call out “slowing” to avoid a pile up of riders. Signaling this will make a difference between a safe stop and a dangerous situation. The signal is to call out “slowing” or “stopping” and raise one hand fingers flat.
Indicating a Turn: Those behind you need to know in advance when the group is turning. Whether it’s a turn on a city street, or even a fork in the road. Raise your hand to shoulder height and point straight-arm in the direction of the turn. It’s best to initiate the signal well in advance of the turn. This courtesy should also be extended to motorists for your own good
Pointing out a Hazard, Pothole or Debris: When approaching a hazard such as a large pothole, extend your arm and point at it, calling out “hole” or whatever the hazard. This call is for deep holes that can swallow a wheel, and not for merely rough pavement. and not for merely rough pavement.
Alerting Riders to Tracks and Speedbumps:
Some speedbumps are particularly large and call for a warning. Tracks are especially dangerous if they cross your route at a severe angle rather than perpendicular.
Warning of Oncoming Hazard: This is a warning call that is in the eye of the beholder. You see a large truck coming in your direction. It is wide and fills if not overlaps the lane. You signal to move right so no one is in the path of the truck. Again, the call is only to alert riders to hazards that could startle or hit them. This can come into play on particularly narrow roads.
Calling Car Back or Car Up:
This warns of a car approaching from behind or coming toward the group from ahead. The more critical is “car back” so riders know to move to the right. This call comes from the back of the group, and depending on the numbers of riders, must be repeated so riders more forward hear the call. “Car up” can be important on narrow, winding rural roads where riders may be riding in the middle of a travel lane.
We do not recommend the use of the “all clear” call. Conditions change in an instant. Cars going 60 mph cover a lot of ground in seconds. It may be “clear” for you or the person directly behind you, but someone down the line who hears it, could be in danger from approaching vehicles.
This article was edited by Tim Wilson