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Safer in numbers or singly?

Snakebite the 2ndSnakebite the 2nd Posts: 452
edited January 2016 in Commuting chat
When riding to work this morning I was behind another cyclist for the second half of the ride.
I'd spent the first half catching him up and then didn't have the oomph to get past! :oops: :mrgreen:

Now what I noticed most was that drivers passing us did so in the manner they would have passed a single cyclist.

On quite a few occasions either I got close passes or the chap in front did as they cut in, not accounting for two riders being on the road.

I was riding about 1.5 - 2 car lengths behind him to allow for stopping distance etc (I can quite happily ride a lot closer in a pack of riders I am familiar with).

Has anyone else noticed this sort of thing?
Is it safer in a pack, or riding alone?

Posts

  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 50,062 Lives Here
    Well organised packs get treated like lorries usually.
  • edrobbinedrobbin Posts: 173
    Out in the boonies, leaving a good few car lengths between riders allows overtaking cars to get past the group relatively easily & safely. A closely packed group is hard to pass and leads to frustrated drivers taking risks, putting all in danger.

    In town, I guess the same principal applies, but I'm no authority on urban driving or riding in groups - I'm Billy-no-mates on my route.

    Gut feel is spaced out single riders (distance I mean, not stoned cycling) has to be safer than a peleton, and actually more reasonable to other road users
    Waterloo - White City

    Cannondale Quick Carbon 1 2016
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  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 22,788 Lives Here
    I think in terms of cars passing I'd say singly. Had to drive in today and there was a group of 3 riding along and I cringed as I watched cars ahead of me pass the guy at the back and then realise there was a car coming the other way so they would pull in again before they'd passed all of them. This is because most drivers seem to be hard of thinking and don't look beyond what is immediately in front of them. This is also why they try to overtake a bicycle then slam the brakes on as they are rapidly approaching a line of stationary traffic.
  • In the car on Sunday and there were 6 cyclists strung out - I found myself thinking that it would be easier if they were riding 2 abreast as I would still have to wait for a gap in the oncoming traffic. So the answer would be that it depends on the road width.

    When cycling in Town it is best to keep up with the pack as you get less cars cutting in front of you.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,550
    As a rule of thumb, non-cyclist drivers hate bunches of cyclists. Most drivers seem to have zero overtaking skills - you've only got to watch a queue of cars trying to pass a JCB to realise this. I've always felt far safer as a single rider than in any sort of group.

    ETA - either ride as close as you can to another (single) bike making the pass as simple as possible - or leave enough room for a car to pass you and pull in again. Pet hate of mine as a driver is a queue of cars following a slow vehicle with no intent to overtake but too close together to let you pass them individually. You then end up having to pass the whole lot in one go or sit at the back. And there's always a knob who closes any gap there was and flashes their lights at you (as they pass the sign on the A9 saying "Please Allow Overtaking"
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 19,686
    i found myself behind two tractors on a long straight two lane busy road in peak rush hour now these tractors were motoring easy 30 mph, i sat behind almost not pedalling for +5 miles the cars however sat a few feet back and therefore couldnt see around the tractors, pretty much all the cars immediately behind did the same they created their own rolling road block.

    I loved it, in fact one of my best main road commutes of all time.
    Rule #5 // Harden The censored Up.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
    Rule #12 // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
    Rule #42 // A bike race shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,550
    Tractors can be great for a tow
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • itboffinitboffin Posts: 19,686
    Tractors can be great for a tow

    i'd trade in the family car for one but we already have about four :D

    Kumbayah
    Rule #5 // Harden The censored Up.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
    Rule #12 // The correct number of bikes to own is n+1.
    Rule #42 // A bike race shall never be preceded with a swim and/or followed by a run.
  • awaveyawavey Posts: 2,368
    my impression in this situation, as I do often find myself catching people but not quite having the oomph to make a clean pass myself, is the cars will see you at the back and treat you as a lone rider, and then account for the rider up front and treat them as a lone rider, they dont seem to treat you as a group however far spaced apart you are, I mean I always leave 1-2 car lengths in these situations just in case a car wants to take it in 2 goes, but cars have never taken that space, theyll still overtake both of you and how much room they leave you is based on whats coming the other way.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,550
    1-2 car lengths space isn't enough - I'd never try to squeeze my car between two bikes that far apart. That's why I'd say that you should either close right up and make the pass almost as simple as passing one bike OR leave at least 5 car lengths, giving a car the chance to pass you quickly then slow down and pull into the gap.

    I have to wonder why you can catch people but not pass. As you approach the back of another bike, the slipstream gives you a boost to get a bit of speed up (or a brief rest to then pass).
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • Thanks for the input guys.
    Would have replied earlier, but been off sick for the last two days!
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