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Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

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Old 08-01-07, 04:29 PM   #1
JohnBrooking
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Ride with newbie - in front or behind?

When riding with a new commuter, someone to whom you are "showing the ropes", do you think it best to ride in front, to model good behavior and positioning, or in back, to shield the new person from overtaking traffic and observe his or her behavior in order to give advice? We're assuming it's just the two of you.

Is your answer different if the person is not a total newbie, but still seems to be less skilled or experienced than you?
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Old 08-01-07, 05:34 PM   #2
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in front till they understand what you do, then in back to critique.
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Old 08-01-07, 06:00 PM   #3
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I'd ride in the front for a while, then switch to the back.
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Old 08-01-07, 06:11 PM   #4
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I'd do what king says. show, then critique.
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Old 08-02-07, 12:22 PM   #5
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When taking Scouts out for their Bicycling Merit Badge, I ride in front. Reasons?

1. I know where we're going.

2. I can halt the line easier.

3. If we're on the MUP I can warn other (slower) users that we have a string of cyclists coming (no, I don't wait for a nanosecond before I pass them to shout "ON YER LEFT!" as I blaze by ). We go over MUP courtesy before we ever start the on-road part of the cycling program.

As they advance in skills, I may allow an older Scout to lead the group, and I'll move up and down the line to talk to/observe the others. We tend to get strung out, but there is always an adult at the end of the line.

So, a long answer to your simple question...

We typically can have about 15 or so Scouts on these rides.
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Old 08-02-07, 12:55 PM   #6
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I go back and forth. You're in front, setting a good example, but you can't see if your 'newbie' is even paying attention. You also run the risk of dropping them like a bad habit without much warning, and that's no good either. You're in back, keeping an eye on the person, but then you're a wheelsucker and not sharing the load. So I go back and forth, always communicating....
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Old 08-02-07, 02:05 PM   #7
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When I showed another person my commute to work, I rode in front so he could learn where to make the turns just by watching me. I wasnt teaching him how to ride in traffic. When we got to a section of road with little traffic I rode next to him so we could chat.

When I took an inexperienced rider out to try a little tour through the countyside I rode behind so it was easier for her to hear my instructions.
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Old 08-03-07, 09:57 AM   #8
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Ride with newbie - in front or behind?

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Originally Posted by JohnBrooking View Post
When riding with a new commuter, someone to whom you are "showing the ropes", do you think it best to ride in front, to model good behavior and positioning, or in back, to shield the new person from overtaking traffic and observe his or her behavior in order to give advice? We're assuming it's just the two of you.

Is your answer different if the person is not a total newbie, but still seems to be less skilled or experienced than you?
The way I and all the instructors I know handle this is to ride in front of them for the first bit, until the other riders have a chance to get the feel for riding in traffic. I've taught more than 1350 people of all ages in traffic situations (roughly 900 being elementary school kids, and the rest being adults 18 to 81).

For most courses, I have from 6 riders (in the case of beginners) up to 8 riders (advanced) in my group. After I can see (using my mirror and tons of shoulder-checks) that they're able to make the right decisions, then I have half ride in front and half in back.

In your case, John--with one person--I'd recommend the same thing, and equip the rider with a vest (in my experience, two vested riders together get much more room than an individual rider). Let the other rider know to take the same lane position as you, so they're far enough away from the curb to keep drivers from buzzing them closely. I do this with both first-time riders and experienced ones.

To do it most safely requires advanced classroom (traffic skills theory) and parking lot (bike handling skills) training, as well as clear, confident communication. The rider needs to know what situations they'll face, and how to handle them.

Taking a cycling course will give you a really good feel for how to do this. You may even love it so much you'll want to become an instructor!

Allan
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Old 08-03-07, 11:56 AM   #9
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Thanks for the advice, guys. Allan, I actually have taken Road I, although it was a year ago now, so I don't remember everything the instructor did. We did our ride this morning. I ended up leading most of the time, except a short jaunt through a private road without much car traffic, where we road side by side. Other times, we were close enough that it wasn't too hard to call back information to him. It's only a 5-mile commute, so it always seemed like we were coming up on something else new to him, that I wanted to lead him through. Maybe I'll ask him to lead on the way home tonight.
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