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Two abreast cycling..Yes or no

jc4labjc4lab Posts: 1,055
edited March 2014 in Campaign
On a recent SKyride they iinsisted this was the best techique and demanded everyone do this.as its safer.for anyone in a touring group.I dont agree..I dont like to go out of my way to antagonise cars. and prefer a defensive riding singlle file...
jc
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  • Let's see: you're riding with a friend two abreast and a driver wants to overtake and he can't because of oncoming traffic. So you drop back so as not to antagonise him. Take look at the Highway code advice for him on http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTr ... /DG_070314

    He is obliged to move out as far as he would to overtake a car. How does your riding two abreast create a more difficult problem for him. As for antagonising him, you should, since 2004, have noticed that antagonised motorists happen even to solo riders.

    If on the other hand, their a a number of you, riding in single file makes the overtaking process twice as long, with all the potential for increased risk during that time.

    I've done clubruns on back roads in the Yorkshire Dales where we have deliberately ridden two abreast to prevent a driver from overtaking us, since the narrowness and limited sightlines of the road would have made overtaking us in single file dangerous. And yes, they were antagonised - in those circs. so what?
    Organising the Bradford Kids Saturday Bike Club at the Richard Dunn Sports Centre since 1998
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/eastbradfordcyclingclub/
    http://www.facebook.com/groups/eastbradfordcyclingclub/
  • ProssPross Posts: 28,192
    A standard main road width is 7.3m. If you ride 1m from the edge then your right shoulder is, say, 1.5m from the edge. A car is around 2.0m wide so if they are overtaking you without going onto the other side of the road then they are giving you about 150mm of space. If they are giving you a safe level of space then they can't overtake an individual rider whilst there is an oncoming car so you may as well ride two abreast and make the distance they have to overtake half the length. In riding single file you are inviting cars to overtake in a dangerous manner.

    There are obviously exceptions and on narrow country lanes when riding as a group we will often single out and call a car through when we can see it is safe. More often than not the driver will acknowledge this politely.

    Riding single file and / or close to the edge is not riding defensively. Defensively is holding your position in a safe manner. Unfortunately there are many ignorant road users who think bikes should not be on the road at all and that riding two abreast is illegal - it isn't and I think there should be emphasis on understanding other road users in the driving test.
  • MarcBCMarcBC Posts: 333
    I would much rather single out than have a frustrated car driver stuck behind me, whatever the law says.

    Even if they still cannot get passed I like to think they believe I have made an effort to let them and they moderate behaviour accordingly.
  • Depends on width of road, but would say that if there isn't room for a car to get past safely and a car needs to get past then drop one back. I seriously cannot understand my friend who insists on stopping (!) if there are cars parked on one side of the road and there is room for only one vehicle to get through on the same side of the road - the car should just wait until it's safe to overtake. I obviously make an exception for emergency vehicles. I also make an exception for agricultural vehicles in the spring / summer on the basis that they're doing a job (and then usually regret it when they go slower than me).

    I can see why different considerations might apply for a mass participation event though.
  • most drivers understand and dont bother about riding two abreast, there will always be drivers that get held up for 10 seconds of there life overtaking, on the horn shouting profanities... its like and instant reaction the middle finger just goes up, and i know im not on my own on here, sick to death of @rsehole motorists thinking they own the road
  • 2 abreast makes it easier for the driver to be sure there is more than one of you. I tend to ride a wide primary behind , usually my son, who I keep in a slightly more kerbside position so that if the driver does decide to be a pillock s/he's definitely going to give Son enough room by dint of getting by me first, whilst I can still get in a bit without rushing to get ahead or behind him and with neither of us already trapped at the gutter.

    I generally find drivers are courteous and patient though, a glance back and nod or small raise of the hand to let them know you're aware of them, not being deliberatey obstructive and a wave as they go by tends to encourage good behaviour.

    I get wound up by the skyrides though, it brings out the once a year cyclists who haven't got a clue about roadcraft, seem to think no cars = safe to ride without any consideration and dangerously oblivious to everyone else around them: randomly veering, riding full carriageways abreast, never looking before pulling out, determined to push to the front of any stop line. Far more dangerous to me than pretty much any car I've ever been near. Glad my lad is old enough and smart enough on the roads not to be taken in by the novelty of riding such a closed circuit event now.
  • nmcgannnmcgann Posts: 1,780
    MarcBC wrote:
    I would much rather single out than have a frustrated car driver stuck behind me, whatever the law says.

    Even if they still cannot get passed I like to think they believe I have made an effort to let them and they moderate behaviour accordingly.
    +1. I like to be polite when I can, I know I'd appreciate the courtesy when I'm driving my car.

    I occasionally break away from the club rides I go on when the group is too big as the inevitable car aggro can spoil the fun of the ride for me.
    --
    "Because the cycling is pain. The cycling is soul crushing pain."
  • mtb-idlemtb-idle Posts: 2,178
    Dont' do it on or near Box Hill, could cost you a bag of sand
    FCN = 4
  • geebee2geebee2 Posts: 248
    It all depends on many factors, the size of the group, how wide the road is, the amount of traffic, etc.

    But in most circumstances, it's correct to ride two abreast, then single out if necessary.
  • jc4lab wrote:
    On a recent SKyride they iinsisted this was the best techique and demanded everyone do this.as its safer.for anyone in a touring group
    Skyrides are supposed to be fun events to encourage people to cycle more often. The Ride Leader should not demand anything of the participants. Which ride was it ?
    I recommend the riders ride 2 abreast as this shortens the length needed for a pass and stops cars only getting past half the riders and splitting the group up which can be dangerous. I have only lead one ride where I have insisted on 2-a-breast and that was taking a group which included children with stabilisers along Bird Cage Walk.
  • Highway Code
    Rules for cyclists

    66

    You should...

    * never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends

    ________________________
    Question:
    Do any cyclists drive cars? You'd think not judging by some of the 'us vs. them' posts.

    Personally, I think it's a matter of common sense and courtesy. It depresses me when people (mostly men, it has to be said) become arrogant and self-righteous as soon as they leave the car at home and go out on two wheels.

    ________________________
    I'm at that difficult age... somewhere between birth and death.
  • What really annoys me (putting on my car driver's hat) is long strings of cyclists riding single file without gaps. I would much rather see them riding in bunches 3 abreast than start to overtake, then have to try to create a space to pull into.
  • ProssPross Posts: 28,192
    Highway Code
    Rules for cyclists

    66

    You should...

    * never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends

    ________________________
    Question:
    Do any cyclists drive cars? You'd think not judging by some of the 'us vs. them' posts.

    Personally, I think it's a matter of common sense and courtesy. It depresses me when people (mostly men, it has to be said) become arrogant and self-righteous as soon as they leave the car at home and go out on two wheels.

    ________________________


    You highlighted the wrong part, you should have highlighted "should" as that means it's just a recommendation and not a law / regulation (i.e. covered outside of the Highway Code). I've never understood the recommendation to single out on a bend as that is one place you don't want to encourage overtaking. It's nothing to do with being self-righteous and all about safety, if you consider it safer / as safe to ride in single file then that's fine but you shouldn't get bullied into it by an impatient motorist. I have driven nearly 25,000 miles in the past 7 months and I reckon the time I have been delayed by being behind cyclists is close to zero as whenever I have had to wait to pass I have eventually caught back up with the vehicle that was previously in front of me. By contrast I have been held up by hours by slower moving vehicles, particularly on my regular trips up the A49 where I can lose 10 to 15 minutes behind slow moving cars that I cannot overtake safely.
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    I'd say single file, space out and give a wave to those who give you plenty of room. Its only the next cyclist who is going to be the subject of their anger because you are holding them up. A bicycle is not an appropriate tool to create a road block with.

    If you want drivers to have a positive attitude to rider safety then show them some courtesy to start with.

    I don't agree with the argument "that since they have to give us plenty of space anyway we may as well ride two abreast". You are halving the safety bubble and sharing it with the rider next to you. Only going to end it tears when one of you or both of you need that bubble. Better to ride defensively (further out) and keep that space spare.
  • DavidJBDavidJB Posts: 2,019
    Only on quiet or wide/straight b-roads...busy A-roads always single file. Round here on most roads there is enough space for a driver to pass at a safe distance even with on coming traffic so there's no need to be a censored and hold anyone up because you think it's fine due to various things written in the highway code.

    Treat other road users how you would like to be treated yourself...polite, courteous and cause the minimal disruption you can while not endangering you or them.
  • mar_kmar_k Posts: 323
    Hi, I have recently joined up with this site.
    As well as a cycling enthusiast I am also a HGV driver who drives Articulated lorries.
    I thought I would give my oppinion on this as I can see both sides, however in a much slower, longer, wider and massively heavier vehicle overtaking cyclists anytime is abit of a problem however when they are 2 abreast its rarther dangerous for me to attempt overtaking.

    I often drive around Ascot in my artic and there is also quite a large cycle club that use the A and B roads around there.

    It can and does become a bit of a nightmare trying to overtake them, especialy by the virginia waters section
    which ends up with me in my truck holding everyone up behind me doing 10-15mph along the whole length of the road.
    Some see whats going on and drop back into single file and others don't.
    Now I know I am no more important as a road user than the people in the cycle club but it becomes quite frustrating when they refuse to drop back.
    As a HGV driver we are goverend by various driving rules and regs which include a maximum time allowed to be behind the wheel each day.
    If I get stuck behind a big cycle pack ( which does happen ) then my precious time is ticking away and it has a knock on affect through out my day.
    All I would ask is, If you spot a larger vehicle behind you, and your 2 abreast, then please drop back in and let us pass.
    As already said I know I am no more important than the group but as fellow road users lets try to work together instead of against.
  • pilot_petepilot_pete Posts: 2,081
    Mar_k

    I hear what you are saying, but don't let self induced time pressures cloud your judgement. Because you are driving commercially and your company put you under a certain time pressure is no reason to adjust safety related behaviour. I know because I ride bikes on the road and fly aeroplanes for a living....A very similar safety environment with pressures.

    PP
  • Sirius631Sirius631 Posts: 1,015
    Two abreast on an appropriately wide road is correct, the pack is half the length, thus easy to overtake. If your are riding defencively correctly there will be room on the inside of you for someone to ride in secondary position. If drivers are over taking correctly they should be over the other side of the road, and thus whether you are riding single file or two abreast will be irrelevant.
    To err is human, but to make a real balls up takes a super computer.
  • nickwillnickwill Posts: 2,735
    Sirius631 wrote:
    Two abreast on an appropriately wide road is correct, the pack is half the length, thus easy to overtake. If your are riding defencively correctly there will be room on the inside of you for someone to ride in secondary position. If drivers are over taking correctly they should be over the other side of the road, and thus whether you are riding single file or two abreast will be irrelevant.

    Spot on! :D
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    If the road is appropriately wide then surely cars will be able to pass without crossing to the other side of the road. That is about as easy as it gets to overtake. If you are riding in a large group and holding up traffic it would be courteous to space out a bit, so that traffic can pass you in chunks.

    I wounder how many people giving advice have actually done any kind of advanced driver training?

    If the pack contains 12 rides riding off-set will only take up a maximum of another 5-6m over 2 abreast giving each rider a better view of the road and more space to stop in. It will only take a car another 0.5 seconds at 20mph above the pack speed to pass. Time exposed to danger for the car will be the same. Safety bubble for each cyclist will be about 50% bigger.

    Any selfish act we do as cyclists, just impacts the next rider down the road, who wont have a clue why nobody is giving him space. Its all about attitude. Defensive driving/riding is not about forcing people to do things they don't want to do its about creating and holding on to space that you might need. If its safe to ride two abreast then its even safer to stagger the group and ride offset. Motorcyclists ride off-set when riding in groups as it given them more space, better stopping distance, better view of the road and the ability to adapt.
  • ProssPross Posts: 28,192
    diy wrote:
    If the road is appropriately wide then surely cars will be able to pass without crossing to the other side of the road. That is about as easy as it gets to overtake. If you are riding in a large group and holding up traffic it would be courteous to space out a bit, so that traffic can pass you in chunks.

    I wounder how many people giving advice have actually done any kind of advanced driver training?

    If the pack contains 12 rides riding off-set will only take up a maximum of another 5-6m over 2 abreast giving each rider a better view of the road and more space to stop in. It will only take a car another 0.5 seconds at 20mph above the pack speed to pass. Time exposed to danger for the car will be the same. Safety bubble for each cyclist will be about 50% bigger.

    Any selfish act we do as cyclists, just impacts the next rider down the road, who wont have a clue why nobody is giving him space. Its all about attitude. Defensive driving/riding is not about forcing people to do things they don't want to do its about creating and holding on to space that you might need. If its safe to ride two abreast then its even safer to stagger the group and ride offset. Motorcyclists ride off-set when riding in groups as it given them more space, better stopping distance, better view of the road and the ability to adapt.

    I've given the standard road width dimensions above. How can you safely pass a cyclist riding in a reasonable position (say 1m from the kerb and half a metre width for bike and rider) in a vehicle that will be 2m wide with wing mirrors without crossing into the opposing lane when their lane is 3.65m wide (and that is based on a good width relatively modern road)? It is worrying when cyclist themselves feel it is possible. Riding a safe distance from the kerb or even two abreast is exactly the sort of defensive riding that should be advocated, accidents occur when motorists are encourage to squeeze past. Oh, and yes I have done advanced driving and drive in excess of 30,000 miles a year so I'm not some sort of cycling fundamentalist.
  • diydiy Posts: 6,680
    there are plenty of roads where the lane width is much wider than 3.6m. Of course you should ride away from the curb, but you need to keep that space to yourself for your safety bubble, not share it with another rider. Cars will overtake cyclists who are riding two a breast and since most drivers do not know when to 2-stage or 3-stage an overtake, you will get drivers passing cyclists (or getting aggressive at them) in any case less safely.

    As cyclists we just aren't in a position to dictate to other road users. Our bikes simply don't have the road presence. Its hard enough on a motorbike, when you can match their speed. Hence IMO its better to create the biggest safety bubble you can and use it when you have to. Couple that with bags of courtesy and drivers are much more likely to give you space because they want to rather than get aggressive because in their mind you are holding them up.

    The fact is the driver will overtake you anyway - they are more likely to do this safely when you haven't peed them off.
  • I have just watched Christopher bigging complain about cyclists, a few weeks back I got stuck behind two cyclists on a narrow country road riding two abreast, it lasted for over 2 miles but I did not get frustrated, and when safe enough, managed to pass them, they were very polite as tried to make it easier by signalling me when the road became clear enough to pass :D
  • suesnell wrote:
    I have just watched Christopher bigging complain about cyclists, a few weeks back I got stuck behind two cyclists on a narrow country road riding two abreast, it lasted for over 2 miles but I did not get frustrated, and when safe enough, managed to pass them, they were very polite as tried to make it easier by signalling me when the road became clear enough to pass :D

    Have to wonder why one didn't drop behind the other for 50 metres and let you pass earlier.
  • seanoconnseanoconn Posts: 7,867
    If you're riding on a road wide enough for cars to overtake two single file cyclists safely but not wide enough to overtake two abreast,(because of traffic in the opposite direction) ride single file. Don't be ignorant just because there's no law against, use your noggin.
    Pinno, מלך אידיוט וחרא מכונאי
  • kajjalkajjal Posts: 3,380
    seanoconn wrote:
    If you're riding on a road wide enough for cars to overtake two single file cyclists safely but not wide enough to overtake two abreast,(because of traffic in the opposite direction) ride single file. Don't be ignorant just because there's no law against, use your noggin.

    Thats exactly my view. If cars can easily over take you two abreast then fine. If it is a quiet road and you go back to single file briefly to let cars past then again everyone is happy. What really annoys other road users are the arrogant cyclists who ride two abreast on busy roads where it is impossible to over take them safely causing large tailbacks and alot of bad feeling towards cyclists. We live in a rural area where tractors frequent the road driving at 20mph, if they can pull in to laybys to let traffic go past a cyclist can get out of the way ;)
  • You were cycling two abreast?

    'I wish! - we were cycling to a lake' (Homer Simpson)
  • BrandonABrandonA Posts: 553
    seanoconn wrote:
    If you're riding on a road wide enough for cars to overtake two single file cyclists safely but not wide enough to overtake two abreast,(because of traffic in the opposite direction) ride single file. Don't be ignorant just because there's no law against, use your noggin.


    This makes sense to me a and is my strategy. The last thing I want is a car up my censored for longer than necessary. I won't stop or change my speed to assist them but I will always go single file to make it easier for them.
  • ProssPross Posts: 28,192
    seanoconn wrote:
    If you're riding on a road wide enough for cars to overtake two single file cyclists safely but not wide enough to overtake two abreast,(because of traffic in the opposite direction) ride single file. Don't be ignorant just because there's no law against, use your noggin.

    In my experience that is exactly what people do, certainly on my club rides. If we are two abreast and a car is behind we just call to single out. However, many motorists seem to get irate when we are two abreast on a two lane road because they can't force their way past when there is oncoming traffic. That's exactly why we ride two abreast - we don't want them forcing their way past as there isn't sufficient width for them to do so safely even when single file.
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    BrandonA wrote:
    seanoconn wrote:
    If you're riding on a road wide enough for cars to overtake two single file cyclists safely but not wide enough to overtake two abreast,(because of traffic in the opposite direction) ride single file. Don't be ignorant just because there's no law against, use your noggin.


    This makes sense to me a and is my strategy. The last thing I want is a car up my ars* for longer than necessary. I won't stop or change my speed to assist them but I will always go single file to make it easier for them.

    I think you should consider changing your speed to assist the larger vehicles - eg, approaching a climb - if you ease up a bit before the climb then the HGV can get past you before you get to the climb - he gets to carry on and you get to climb without an HGV up your saddlebag ...
    Or, you're nearing the top of a climb - large vehicle has caught you (no surprise there) but cannot safely overtake - if you put in a massive effort to increase your speed to the top then the driver can see that and (usually) appreciates you trying not to hold them up.

    As you suggest ... it is just a matter of considering fellow road users
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