Please, understand me, and indulge me - I'm an avid fan of the sport, and it's July.. not many other things on my mind these days (besides the heat-wave and an urge to plunge into any nearby pool).
L'Auto newspaper - from the first ever Tour de France
Today, I will not be writing about the cycling on a Tour. That is a story for dreamers and high-end athletes. As for the rest of us, "Le Tour" is happening every day - as we ride along grizzling traffic, as we cope with malfunctions and as we try to "behave".
I have writen a lot about etiquette, but yet nothing about the thing that interest me quite much: the cycling etiquette. As a witness to many road-accidents involving cyclins, I'm interested in the subject. So, I went on a search for some rules that any and all of us should apply; no matter if we're in the race across the mountains, or cruising in the traffic.
We are all ambassadors for cycling as we travel along the roadways and through the many communities along the way. Be especially considerate of our friends and neighbors who are gracious enough to share this special route with us. Among other things, this means do not hog the road; let local traffic get through to and from their homes. This also means you should use the facilities provided along the way, not the shrubs.
- Riding safely in big groups requires a mature and positive frame of mind. Always ride smart, ride safe.
- Riding safely in big groups requires communicating with other riders around you.
- Maintain your personal space; avoiding close proximity to other bikes.
- Avoid sudden sideways movements while riding in a group; be predictable and always hold your line.
- Be considerate of slower and faster riders around you; remember that this is a fun ride, NOT a race.
- Be careful, signal, and let others know when you’re slowing or stopping.
- Passing and being passed is a critical skill.
Ride Tips - Passing
Passing on a bicycle is a two-way process. As a general rule, the passer has primary responsibility for a safe pass; however, both the passer and "passee" have a few simple responsibilities to make a pass safe and friendly.
The passee(s) should:
- Be aware of approaching riders (look behind and listen! NO headphones); consolidate to single file to allow a safe pass;
- Acknowledge calls to pass; saying "Thank You" is a GREAT way to do this!
- Maintain a steady speed and hold a consistent line-don't suddenly slow down or speed up as you are being passed, and don't swerve.
The passer(s) should:
- Call "Approaching rider" as you get close;
- Slow a bit to allow buffer space; communicate "Rider up, slowing" to your group; groups must only pass as a single line;
- Check the road behind to ensure no approaching vehicles, making sure there is enough room for everyone to safely pass;
- Call "Passing on you left" after the other rider has acknowledged your presence, indicating number of riders in line if passing as a group;
- Move left to allow adequate space as you come around as you smoothly accelerate to your previous speed to make the pass;
- Allow plenty of room before pulling back in to the right so as to not cut off the passees;
- If in a line, the last rider should indicate "Last rider."
Ride Tips - Vocal Warnings
Slowing - When someone yells "Slowing!" it means that there is something causing them to slow down. This could be a traffic light, slower bikes or some road hazard. Prepare to slow down, tap you brakes and repeat the yell "Slowing" to indicate that you've heard the warning and to alert those behind you that you are also slowing down.
Stopping - When someone yells "Stopping!" it means they are stopping. If they are just pulling over to fix a flat or rest, you should prepare to pass (see tips above). However, this could be a stop light or major road hazard, so you must be prepared to stop. If necessary, tap your brakes while repeating the yell "Stopping" to indicate to others that you've heard them and to alert those behind you that you are also slowing to a stop. It is important not to slam on your brakes, especially if there are others behind you!!
Hold your line - When someone shouts, "Hold your line," this means that you need to steer a straight line as best you can. In most cases, the person is attempting to pass. If you swing out or don't keep your bike steady, you could cause trouble for the other cyclist.
On your Left - When someone yells "On your left," it means that they are passing you on your left side. You should never hear "On your right." First of all, you should be riding towards the right side of the roadway unless passing, so there should no room for anyone to pass on the right. NEVER PASS ON THE RIGHT. (unless you're in England, Australa or Japan)
Car Up - This is a verbal caution to beware of an approaching vehicle and to stay right. When you hear this, repeat the call so that others know that you are aware of the approaching vehicle and to alert others.
Car Back - This means that there is a vehicle coming up from behind. Move to the right as safely possible to allow them to pass. Repeat the call so others ahead of you also know about the car.
Holes - When someone shouts "Holes," "Bumps" or "Road kill," they are warning of road surface hazards that could cause you problems. Generally they will also point to the hazard. Be prepared to avoid these hazards without swerving into other riders. Again, repeat the warning for those behind you.
Cracks – Riders will call “Crack” when there is a crack parallel to your direction of travel. These cracks can catch your wheel and cause a spill. Many riders will wave their left or right arm forward and back with their palm facing their body to let riders behind know which side the crack is on. Pass the warning back while signaling with one hand if you can. Spot the crack and move over if needed, as smoothly as possible to avoid it.
Gravel - This warning means there is gravel in the road. They may also indicate gravel on the side of the road by waving their hand palm down over the side with the gravel. Ride around the gravel when possible, although you can ride through it safely if you hold a straight line. Gravel in a corner warrants caution when turning. Slow down and keep the bike more upright by pushing with the outside hand as you steer through the turn.
Note: These rules apply to all languages. (We don't yell out in English over here - not much folk would understand; but the words are the same, no matter where we are)
I often ride with my brother, and following the rules has certanly saved both of our lives many times. It's not only about being "safe" - it's about being considerate to others (especially when you point out the hole in the road to riders behind you) :)
There's and obligatory photo of the autor:
Taken yesterday, just before we went on our 2 hour ride in the countryside.
Drive safely, my friends...