Riding two abreast

tenohfive Posts: 152
edited January 2017 in Road beginners
Bought the wife a road bike recently and took her out for a ride last week through the local countryside. One thing I couldn't quite get comfortable with (having not been out with others before) was riding two abreast. I get the benefits (I'd happily have stayed alongside the entire ride) and the safety side of things; I also recognise that on a lot of roads it actually makes it easier for a motorist to get past with only one bikes length to overtake instead of two. And I found I could be fairly thick skinned at the odd horn in places where I knew that there wasn't ever going to be room to get past without going wholly onto the opposite carriageway.

And yet at other times - slightly wider roads, but not that wide - I felt like I should be dropping behind again, even though logically it was still clear that any overtake of even one of us wouldn't happen if there was oncoming traffic.

What's the done thing - when is it best to be side by side and when not? Any general tips or advice for this sort of thing?


  • StillGoing
    StillGoing Posts: 5,211
    2 abreast is safer than single. If the road is narrow and being 2 abreast is going to make it difficult for vehicles to pass safely, it makes sense to drop back into single file temporarily and let them pass. Give them a signal even if the road is clear and you can see further up the road. Wide roads, ride 2 abreast and if I'm out on my own, I always take the lane to force drivers to give me a bit of room. Riding close in to the kerb is asking for trouble as it is where most of the crap is swept in to, where drains are and some of those have the grids running in the direction of the road, and you really don't want your front wheel dropping in one of them. That's of course if the drain is there and the local itinerants haven't been out nicking them for scrap overnight leaving a dirty great hole. It also gives an escape route for potholes as long as they're small rather than across the whole carriageway.

    Drivers will try and pass a cyclist in single file even if there is oncoming traffic and more often than not, afford you very little room. Dominate the lane and make them think twice about it, because they'll often try squeezing between you and an oncoming vehicle, and if they decide they need a bit more room, its you they're going to choose to nudge or run into.
    I ride a bike. Doesn't make me green or a tree hugger. I drive a car too.
  • fat daddy
    fat daddy Posts: 2,605
    tenohfive wrote:
    when is it best to be side by side and when not?

    when sprinting full out to the lights, then side by side ... otherwise tucked in 1" from the rear wheel max, preferably an overlap

    edit: sorry this is in beginners, I thought it was the silly commuter racing thread
  • How would you ride country lanes when one of you is towing a child trailer?

    We work it so the lone cyclist rides behind to make sure child is ok and to be more prominent that rider moves close to the rear, outer wheel of the trailer.

    I've always wondered what is the best road position is
  • Bobbinogs
    Bobbinogs Posts: 4,841
    This is always difficult as the "done thing" is very dependent on the traffic behind. Legally it is a bit of a blur since the rules are:
    You should not: Ride more than two abreast.
    You should: Ride single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends

    The second bit is nice and fluffy and clearly written by a non-cyclist. In the UK, there are not many roads without a "bend" to some degree and what exactly constitutes "busy"!

    I ride on a lot of club rides with the average group size of about 10 riders. We have found that if we single out, there is pretty much nowhere a car can safely pass without taking a bit of chance...which effectively puts the front riders in an increased and very real risk of an enforced cut-in should an optimistic overtaker be then faced with traffic. Car drivers will always take this option rather than go head on...somewhat understandable, unless you happen to be a cyclist! I have seen it countless times and it is always very hairy. Hence, we generally ride 2 abreast but try and keep it tight because, from the back, 10 riders 2 abreast can look like a big pack which can annoy motorists. We do single out if traffic builds up (mainly to help with local perception of the club, if I am honest) but we still ensure we keep the primary position...and often an experienced group will automatically single out AND split to allow for the inevitable optimistic fly past (see above). We will always try and manage traffic if we can, waving past motorists when we can see the road is clear or trying to indicate when the road isn't. Some drivers are lovely and give a gentle toot and a thumbs up when they past, others generously offer a rather loud blast and a couple of fingers.

    In reality, I don't worry too much about the whole thing though. I have become very thick skinned since it is amazing how much flak even a well behaved cycling group will get...no matter how big. I have been in a small group of 4 riding a tight 2x2 on a quiet straight wide road and still had a fast punishment pass complete with some inbred local leaning out of the window shouting "Single file you feckers", or words to that effect but much more offensive.

    Just do what you feel comfortable with...just don't ride in the gutter.
  • Ride where you feel most comfortable.

    It`s YOUR road when you are on it, you are traffic , the same as everyone else.

    I ride 2 abreast at all times as idiot drivers just make a noise for the sake of it, regardless of whether they have to slow down for 2 seconds or not, so dropping into single file is a waste of time in my opinion.
    Trek,,,, too cool for school ,, apparently
  • mamba80
    mamba80 Posts: 5,032
    I ve found that its immaterial where you ride on the road, some drivers will always try and get by regardless of if your 2 abreast or not, on coming traffic or blind crests or bends, its as if they think they are immune to head on collisions or the effects even a minor accident would have on their journey time/wallet.

    the roads are no longer Policed what-so-ever, so i guess this knowledge also emboldens motorists?

    As cycling has got more popular, tolerance towards cyclists seems to have decreased, i did at one time think it would be the opposite.

    One thing i did find is that the more expensive fuel becomes, the less traffic @ w/e s and drivers generally appear to drive a bit slower too.
  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 25,218
    Simple way to think about it.
    If riding single will allow traffic to pass safely in a wide lane, do so. If it won't make a difference, don't.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • Garry H
    Garry H Posts: 6,639
    Fnarr, fnarr. He said breast.
  • svetty
    svetty Posts: 1,904
    Garry H wrote:
    Fnarr, fnarr. He said breast.

    Now then, you're just making a tit of yourself :lol:
    FFS! Harden up and grow a pair :D
  • andcp
    andcp Posts: 644
    Garry H wrote:
    Fnarr, fnarr. He said breast.
    Favourite Simpsons quote
    Ned: Hey, Homer, I saw you riding two abreast....
    Homer: I wish, we were riding to a lake.
    "It must be true, it's on the internet" - Winston Churchill
  • Alex99
    Alex99 Posts: 1,407
    PBlakeney wrote:
    Simple way to think about it.
    If riding single will allow traffic to pass safely in a wide lane, do so. If it won't make a difference, don't.

  • DO NOT signal drivers to overtake, pull out or whatever, if you've missed something and there's an accident, who has to take some of the blame?
  • Alex99
    Alex99 Posts: 1,407
    DO NOT signal drivers to overtake, pull out or whatever, if you've missed something and there's an accident, who has to take some of the blame?

    I think as a driver, you are only supposed to take instructions from the Police. Everything else is a courtesy that can be ignored.
  • Bobbinogs
    Bobbinogs Posts: 4,841
    Yepp, and in return, I often ignore some of the hand signals that drivers give me :-)
  • Garry H
    Garry H Posts: 6,639
    DO NOT signal drivers to overtake, pull out or whatever, if you've missed something and there's an accident, who has to take some of the blame?

    The driver takes all the blame.
  • cycleclinic
    cycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    Dont worry about keeping motorist happy when riding you cant it is a waste of time. Instead keep yourself safe. That often means but not always riding two abrest. As always you have to apply cold logic and common sense and to hell with how annoyed a driver might be.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 71,564
    It's the right and safest thing to do in most situations. Certainly when passing speeds are high. In the middle of town it's probs best to not.

    You will however get abuse for doing it. Unfortunately. And the best response is ignoring it.