General Cycling Discussion - Legal Riding and Group Rides
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So, here's a question for everyone. I tried searching this up but couldn't seem to find it. I recently went out for a group ride with a local club. The ride started downtown and moved out to the country/suburbs. Normally, when riding solo, I ride the letter of the law, stopping for every stop sign and red light. However, the group I was with, while not recklessly blowing stop signs and lights, we'd roll through some of them if the coast was clear, and on some ocassions begin heading through when the cycle was just changing to green on our way, but we still had a red. One of the other riders stated that it was generally safer to do so, getting everyone out of harm's way.
I really didn't know the route, since it was all kind of ad-hoc, so I essentially just played follow the leader for most of the ride. It seems to be the only club in my area that is just a social riding club as opposed to a racing oriented group, so I would like to keep going out. My question is, should I ride the letter of the law and try my best to keep up? Or is it better to just follow the group? I wasn't keeping up too well, as I have a flat bar hybrid with bar ends versus touring and road bikes.
On a side note, i'm fine with the sidewalk cycling that we did, only because it was controlled, polite, and there were very few people on extremely wide sidewalk areas.
So, any advice for a group ride noob?
08-30-11, 10:58 AM
Pick a better group. If your club is teaching NewBs to roll through red lights and ride sidewalks they are NOT the people you want showing you (or anyone else) the ropes. Riding practices become habit. so consider for a second what the "safer to do so" red light rolling can result in over time. What happens when out of habit you or your group roll a red and out of nowhere a car speeds up to shoot the amber... Following the law is not about avoiding a ticket; its about preserving life and limb.
Find a club that is more responsible and intelligent to learn from.
08-30-11, 11:19 AM
As an adult, ride however you are comfortable for the conditions. I generally ride alone and roll stop signs and lights if clear and every organized ride I have been on this summer has done the same. I am comfortable with it and it makes the ride easier not stopping for clear intersections. I live in a more rural area so traffic is minimal in town and a lot of drivers wave cyclists through. I also respect the riders that choose to completely stop.
08-30-11, 11:44 AM
It's a gray area. I ride with a similar group. In our case, we may have as many as 4 dozen riders on a Sunday pub crawl ride. Before the ride starts, they "brief" the rules of the ride. We are supposed to stick to a single lane and not block multiple lanes. We obey lights that are red; the whole group will stop. When it turns green or is green when we get there, the whole group will usually ride through, and one or two riders will "cork" the cross streets if the light turns while the group is going through. Within these bounds, the local police seem to be okay with us. (In fact, we've even had police cars spontaneously cork for us.) We try to be as friendly as possible, waving to drivers and thanking them for waiting, and by and large the reception is favorable.
Know, however, that stuff like that is technically in violation of the law, and yes, you could be ticketed. Particularly in Philadelphia, flash mob crimes have made police wary of informal group gatherings, which makes it a little more likely they'll stop a group "just because." Here it's a case of everyone being friendly and cool, and the cops seem to be okay with it. It probably helps that our mayor is a cyclist.
08-30-11, 11:50 AM
One of the local counties provided guidance in cyclists and group rides (http://www.bikedfw.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=137:enforcing-the-rules-of-the-road-for-cyclists-in-collin-county). It essentially says that a group that is riding as a single group can proceed through an intersection together, essentially as one vehicle.
Cyclists riding in a group are allowed to do a "group" stop at stop signs as follows:
1. The riders at the front of the group come to a complete stop with one foot down.
2. Riders behind also come to a complete stop.
3. The entire group then proceeds through the intersection when it is safe.
4. If there is a split - a break - in the group, each smaller group will be treated separately and must also come to a complete stop, independently of the main group.
Our particular group is a little looser than that, but I give props to that particular county for recognizing cycling groups and trying to provide a reasonable interpretation of the law.
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