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PEDAL POWER: Why groups cycle two-abreast
CYCLING is good fun, good for you and good for the environment but it is important to play by the rules.
The law and highway code exist to keep all road users safe and help us all to share our travelling space with each other.
Bad behaviour by some cyclists gives responsible cyclists a bad name and increases intolerance by motorists and pedestrians – none of which is a good thing.
Northwich Police are cracking down on anti-social cycling and Pedal Power hopes to foster good relations between all road users.
Each week in Pedal Power we aim to encourage our readers to cycle, whether for the first time or the first time in a while.
Among the factors that put people off riding a bike are the fast and busy nature of modern roads and the occasionally hostile attitude from some drivers.
Consideration and understanding from all sides is key, and this week’s Pedal Power aims to address this.
Groups of cyclists can often bear the brunt of hostility from motorists.
As a Breeze champion I lead bike rides for women as part of British Cycling’s campaign to get more ladies and lasses out on their bikes.
The aim of Breeze is to take small groups of fairly new cyclists on relaxed and enjoyable bike rides, using traffic free routes and then quieter roads for more confident cyclists that want to go a bit further.
Most of the time drivers are lovely and encouraging and give us plenty of space.
But some drivers have limited patience, honking their horns, hollering out of their windows or even overtaking and then stopping in front of us to vent their spleen.
The main bone of contention seems to be that we are riding two abreast and therefore appear to take up more of the road.
As British Cycling ride leaders we are trained to run our rides using a certain formation to make us more visible and improve safety.
If eight of us ride two-abreast we take up roughly the same amount of room as a tractor or van, so should be as easy to overtake.
The length of the group is shorter and drivers will only overtake if it is completely safe to do so as they have to venture on to the other side of the road.
If we’re in a long line of eight cyclists drivers feel more confident overtaking but as the line is longer this takes more time.
If something is coming the other way, instinct makes the driver pull in to the left – where the cyclists are.
More often than not, our groups are made up of people who drive as well – we understand motorists’ difficulties when stuck behind cyclists and will always try to be considerate.
On narrow lanes we ride single file, leave gaps for overtaking and wave drivers through when we can see it is safe.
Having spoken to non-cycling friends about this I find that they accept it once they understand the reason why – more evidence that understanding and awareness are key to breaking down the motorist/cyclist barrier.