A lot of people cycle on their own but it’s more fun and sometimes easier if you are riding with one or more friends. Even if there’s only two of you, the way you appear to motorists changes as you are probably riding two abreast.
Riding two abreast is perfectly legal, although Highway Code rule 66 says, ‘never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends’. It may well attract the ire of some motorists though who incorrectly think this makes it more difficult to pass (it is actually easier) or even illegal! Of course, riding two-abreast and meandering or swaying left-to-right as you chat is not to be recommended unless you are on the quietest of lanes. Riding in pairs makes even more sense when riding in medium sized groups at the total length of overtake is significantly shortened.
Just because you are allowed to ride in pairs doesn’t mean it’s always the best way, as already mentioned in the quote from the Highway Code. At the brow of a hill or a bend the rider towards the centre of the carriageway would be more at risk from oncoming traffic. To form a single file from pairs the best method is for the cyclist on the inside to speed up allowing the outer rider to pull in. Once you have tried it a few times it will become second nature. Other times when you may want to ride single file are on narrow lanes where there wouldn’t be enough room for an approaching vehicle to pass.
There are some other things you should try to avoid when cycling in a group:
- Don’t brake suddenly if you are at the front
- Don’t ride with a half-wheel overlap with the rider in front, it’s asking for trouble
- Don’t sprint off ahead and leave big gaps, this forces motorists to leapfrog or carry out dangerous overtakes.
You can help your fellow cyclists too by warning of oncoming hazards (potholes, mud on the road) as well as approaching traffic. Oh, and always take your time in the wind, nobody likes the lazy cyclist who stays in everyone’s slipstream avoiding the hard work.