Well organised bunches can ride further and faster than solo riders or non-organised groups. Rider safety is improved by making the entire group much more visible to other traffic, especially from behind. Bunch riding is also much more sociable.
However, if not done correctly, bunch riding can be hazardous and create tension between riders and other road users.
There are many technical rules for riding in a bunch but adopting the following principles can directly reduce the effect on other road users. However, while there is safety in numbers, you must continue to be responsible as an individual rider.
Always Obey The Road Rules.
Know the Rules and follow them.
Keep The Bunch Tight And Compact.
When you are leading, monitor potential problems and give plenty of warning of obstacles, impending stops or changes of pace. Make sure you know the ride route. In the bunch, stay relaxed but alert for warnings and changes in pace. Try to watch what’s happening four or five riders up the line and pass on warning signals and calls.
Be Predictable and Hold Consistent Lines. When riding two abreast, stay close. From behind, wide separation spaces make it appear that a bunch is three or more wide.
Obey all relevant Road Rules. There are some specific rules for bikes that are not well understood by either cyclists or drivers and cause confusion. Bike riders are legally permitted to ride two abreast. On a road that is NOT multi-lane, riders must not ride over 1.5 metres apart from each other. On a multi-lane road, it is permitted, and often safest, to actually take the left lane. Riders are more visible two abreast and, if they take a lane, drivers are less likely to squeeze riders or pass a single rider too closely.
Bike Lanes are for the exclusive use of cyclists and are indicated by specific signage on or beside the road. Where a Bike Lane is provided, cyclists must ride in the lane unless it is impractical to do so, such as avoiding potholes or making right-hand turns.
A motor vehicle is not permitted to drive in a Bike Lane except to pass a right-turning vehicle or to enter or leave a parking space or side street or if a bus or taxi is picking up or dropping off passengers. Drivers must not drive in a Bike Lane for more than 50 metres and must give way to cyclists.
Past a “Lane Ends” sign, cyclists must again share the road and normal road rules apply. A road shoulder marked only by an Edge Line is not a Bike Lane. Riders in Bike Lanes must travel in the same direction as the traffic. Currently, there are no two way or ‘contraflow’ lanes in Tasmania.
At Intersections, riders may overtake on the left of a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is signalling and in the process of turning left.
Footpaths. Cyclists can share footpaths except where “No Go” zones are designated. Riders must keep left, give way to pedestrians and ride with due care and consideration for other users.
Be Seen – Be Safe. Bright clothing, hi-vis and reflective vests help you to be seen. Hi-vis backpack covers are good for commuters. Use lights visible for 200m in poor light conditions - a flashing or steady white light on the front and a flashing or steady rear red light. Consider using flashing lights at all times. Be constantly aware of what traffic is around you – helmet or bar mounted mirrors let you know what’s behind and where your ride partners are.
Rolling through - swapping off - taking a turn. It is safer if you get to the back as quickly as possible as the group is possibly riding three or four-abreast until you and your partner slot in at the back. Check the road is clear behind before peeling off. There are swapping techniques that avoid being more than two abreast.
Don’t overlap wheels or “half wheel”. It disrupts the flow of a bunch, is dangerous and discourteous to other riders. You could touch wheels and crash. Limit your bunch size. A large bunch can exceed the length of a long truck and may be particularly inappropriate along narrow roads or where there are traffic lights to negotiate.
Bunches should be limited to a maximum of 20 riders. Being stuck behind a big bunch is not good for relations between cyclists and drivers. Tails of bunches must not “run” traffic lights - it is both illegal and dangerous In very large bunches, warning signals don’t get telegraphed all the way down the line meaning those at the rear don’t see hazards, often resulting in crashes and falls.
Ride timing. When possible avoid bunch riding during peak periods, particularly on busy roads and around schools at pick up and drop off times.
Antisocial behaviour Be aware that using bad language, spitting, and snorting can offend people when done at the wrong time and place. To build goodwill with the community, restrict any anti-social behaviour so as to not offend others.