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Old 10-25-17, 09:38 AM   #1
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Cross "as a group"?

I went on my first tweed ride over the weekend, and the leader issued a directive that I had not heard before and was not prepared to comply with; it was to cross the intersection as a group. This effectively means that if the light turns red, do not stop, but continue, as part of an imaginary "whole".
It seems to me that this is both unsafe (drivers not expecting such a tactic) and dis-courteous, as well. What is wrong with the first person in the group to get the red light calling out "Stopping!" and the riders in front of him waiting till their associates receive a green light?
Anyways, I stopped when I received a red light and caught up easily to the group at the appropriate time. Are some cyclists starting to write their own rules? If so, I think they should notify the motorists of this.
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Old 10-25-17, 09:52 AM   #2
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I'm with you, and consider the idea about as dumb as there is.

IME even without it being some sort of policy, the stay with the group mentality is a significant cause of injury and death.

However, if the group is a tightly formed peloton, with no gaps of more than a bike length, then it is more like a long vehicle and can continue as a group. But stragglers need to know that chasing the group as the light is changing so risky business.
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Old 10-25-17, 10:06 AM   #3
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I went on my first tweed ride over the weekend, and the leader issued a directive that I had not heard before and was not prepared to comply with; it was to cross the intersection as a group. This effectively means that if the light turns red, do not stop, but continue, as part of an imaginary "whole".
It seems to me that this is both unsafe (drivers not expecting such a tactic) and dis-courteous, as well. What is wrong with the first person in the group to get the red light calling out "Stopping!" and the riders in front of him waiting till their associates receive a green light?
Anyways, I stopped when I received a red light and caught up easily to the group at the appropriate time. Are some cyclists starting to write their own rules? If so, I think they should notify the motorists of this.
This is not really an issue unless your group is very large. If you have riders 10 deep and they're in a tight pack it's not that long a group and drivers won't be confused by a pack continuing through a yellow or red light. If the pack is not tight then you'll need to stop and regroup.

If the group is large 50+, ideally the lead rider would stop the group if the light is yellow. If the group is so large that they can't make it through on a yellow they should break up and regroup.
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Old 10-25-17, 10:42 AM   #4
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You were about 20ish riders?

Anyhow, take a look at this article by Richard Fries on group rides.

BTW, orange is sort of kind of tweedy, not really. But teal? Alternative.

-mr. bill
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Old 10-25-17, 10:57 AM   #5
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Trains don't wait at the crossings for the Tour d France to pass, the barrier goes down across the road, & the bicycle riders stop..
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Old 10-25-17, 11:10 AM   #6
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Trains don't wait at the crossings for the Tour d France to pass, the barrier goes down across the road, & the bicycle riders stop..
Paris-Roubaix

A decade earlier it happened too, but with a freight train. "It's crazy. In Belgium they would have stopped the train." What a dope.

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Old 10-25-17, 11:59 AM   #7
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Critical Mass worked in China before they got enough money to buy cars, then the cars won.
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Old 10-25-17, 12:35 PM   #8
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Reason #120, ready to add onto my list of, "Why I Ride Solo".
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Old 10-25-17, 01:16 PM   #9
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they took off again before the gates went up. good thing there wasn't another train coming from the opposite direction!
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Old 10-25-17, 03:00 PM   #10
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I've ridden a few group rides like that.

I generally don't return.
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Old 10-25-17, 08:50 PM   #11
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Policy in our group rides is that everyone in the group is responsible to cross intersections safely regardless what the others are doing. It is also policy for leaders in the group to look back to see if everyone made it through. If they didn't. we pull over and wait. It sometimes happens that a light changes before everyone gets across. It would be irresponsible to tell people to cross anyway, we always make sure to tell everyone that we will wait and not leave them behind. It also helps that our club rides try to keep group sizes to 12 or less, makes things much more manageable. The highway code in Quebec limits group size to 15 riders, so we don't want to run afoul of the police
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Old 10-26-17, 07:03 AM   #12
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I reluctantly hate to say it, but...based on my encounters as a solo rider with aggressive large group rides, I would not be opposed to size restrictions.
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Old 10-27-17, 08:52 AM   #13
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IME even without it being some sort of policy, the stay with the group mentality is a significant cause of injury and death.

Crossing as a shortish, rather tightly-knit (high-speed) pack sounds reasonable.


My father was a motorcycle cop in the early 1950's. He was training another officer, who was riding behind him. The light was green when my father rode through. The officer behind him was killed when he tried to beat the red light. Maybe the car driver jumped the gun. Either way, traffic lights need to be respected.
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Old 10-27-17, 08:56 AM   #14
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Policy in our group rides is that everyone in the group is responsible to cross intersections safely regardless what the others are doing. It is also policy for leaders in the group to look back to see if everyone made it through. If they didn't. we pull over and wait. It sometimes happens that a light changes before everyone gets across. It would be irresponsible to tell people to cross anyway, we always make sure to tell everyone that we will wait and not leave them behind. It also helps that our club rides try to keep group sizes to 12 or less, makes things much more manageable. The highway code in Quebec limits group size to 15 riders, so we don't want to run afoul of the police


This sounds entirely reasonable.
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Old 10-27-17, 09:52 AM   #15
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A group of cyclists that consider themselves as one entity--what are they, The Borg?
If anybody is looking for an example of why motorists are pissed off by the actions of cyclists, look no farther than this arrogance. I wonder if they would have dared to go through the red light as a group if a cop had been sitting at the front of the line?
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Old 10-27-17, 06:49 PM   #16
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We don't have any traffic lights around here. Groups do take 4 way stops as a single unit. That can stretch out in one spot when the group gets to 40 riders and they come over a set of railroad tracks and then make a left turn. Which on the big Wednesday ride happens at a peak traffic time. I think it annoys some drivers, but it's probably the best way to do it for everyone concerned.

I have yet to see the situation arise, but I expect they'd stop for a train.
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Old 10-27-17, 07:35 PM   #17
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I don't do group rides, but sometimes go on rides with the family. My instructions are: Don't assume it's safe to cross just because someone else is crossing. For one thing, each person knows their own ability to either stop on a dime, or bolt across if they slightly misjudged the crossing. Also, the person leading the group doesn't know how long everybody else is going to take.
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Old 10-28-17, 04:22 PM   #18
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Group rides generally fall into two categories: fast/close/no gaps and slow/large gaps.

I've been doing group rides for decades and the rule in fast/close groups with no gaps is to act like a bus. If you have people deciding to unilaterally stop it's carnage. There is no issue with motorists. They see a stream of cyclists going by and it's just like a long truck and trailer. Just because the truck entered on yellow and the light turned red before the trailer enters doesn't mean the trailer needs to be unhitched so it can stop. Yes, cyclists are not physically connected like a truck and trailer, but for all intents and purposes in a fast/close group they may as well be. In any case the dynamic and effect on cross traffic is the same. People imagine all kinds of issues with it but I've never seen or even heard of an actual one.

Nobody wants every single cyclist in a group of 20, let alone a group of 100, to come to a complete stop.

That said, if a gap develops then those after the gap should stop on red.

Last edited by Ninety5rpm; 10-30-17 at 07:21 PM. Reason: fix motorists/cyclists typo fix
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Old 10-28-17, 06:23 PM   #19
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Group rides generally fall into two categories: fast/close/no gaps and slow/large gaps.

I've been doing group rides for decades and the rule in fast/close groups with no gaps is to act like a bus.....
That said, if a gap develops then those after the gap should stop on red.
This sums it up correctly. If the group is a single tight swarm, then they can and should act like a long vehicle. Just as mo car T-bones the trailer if the light changes after the tractor passes, no driver is going to run into the swarm.

However what happens is that gaps do open, and we run into the judgement calls of riders who are motivated to see it as small enough that it shouldn't count, and drivers who are motivated to see it as the end of the swarm and expect the chasing group to stop.

So, the riders have to have good discipline and recognize when a gap is big enough to call it two separate groups.

But most of the issues don't relate to tight disciplined riders. They come from strung out groups with plenty of gaps and riders who feel that if the guy in front was OK they are too. Some, even most make it, but there's always the one who was a bit late and doesn't.
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Old 10-28-17, 11:58 PM   #20
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This is similar to our group ride general patterns.

For larger casual groups we follow the same pattern used by law enforcement escorts on large organized group rides. The goal is to keep the large group as much together as possible so the slower riders, visitors, etc., aren't abandoned or left to fend for themselves in an unfamiliar area. We also attempt to resolve minor mechanical issues as quickly as possible while the group waits:
  • There's a ride leader, usually in radio contact with other ride organizers.
  • There are "corkers" -- officers or citizens who "cork" or block intersections as briefly as possible to keep the group together, or to better organize splits and regrouping when gaps occur.
  • At the back a sweep, tailgunner, caboose, whatever you want to call it, who notifies the ride leader of gaps so they can estimate where the group can split to minimize delays at traffic lights and stop sign intersections; and to notify the ride leader of delays due to mechanical problems.
This is the same method used by law enforcement everywhere in the U.S. for funeral escorts, motorcades, convoys, etc. It's how our local law enforcement -- city police and county sheriff's deputies -- coordinate our large escorted group bike rides. So our all-citizen organized group rides follow a pattern that is already familiar to motorists.

This has worked well for our local Ride of Silence, events sponsored by the mayor or city (including the summer Tour de Fort Worth, with a short, casual ride each day corresponding with the Tour de France), and Critical Mass (which rarely exceeds 50 participants and, Friday night -- our first really chilly night of the season -- only 12-15 riders, all of whom stayed together so intersection delays were a matter of one or two seconds at most). With larger Critical Mass groups -- which, for us, would be 50 riders -- gaps quickly occur naturally as the slower riders and visitors lag at the back. For the savvy veteran ride organizers this is easy to organize. As gaps occur the sweep and one or two corkers will issue oral commands to stop at intersections where appropriate. Then we'll regroup down the road.

The Tour de Fort Worth usually involves law enforcement escorts for the larger rides (notably weekends and popular segments). On one such large group ride last summer the escorts and intersection blocking were handled by various city and county law enforcement along a 20-30 mile ride with more than 100 participants. Gaps occurred so no intersection was blocked longer than the usual times for red lights or railroad crossings -- perhaps 2-3 minutes.

Some Tour de Fort Worth large group rides were handled by our local pro cycle racing team providing the ride leader, sweep and corkers. They followed the same methods as law enforcement for large groups. Nothing unusual, no vehicle delays longer than 30 seconds at most.

These and other sponsored events with large groups of cyclists are encouraged and prized by many local cities and counties because it helps promote their local festivals (for peak peach season, pecan season, etc.). They're an asset to the community's economy, and a negligible inconvenience to drivers compared with the usual delays for rural railroad crossings, passing farm and ranch equipment on farm to market roads, etc.

Because our Critical Mass really doesn't compare with cities that often see hundreds or thousands of riders, the entire vibe is different. And Fort Worth is generally a cycling friendly city, with a supportive mayor and police who are also active cyclists and fitness buffs.

So far the only hostilities we've encountered had nothing to do with intersection delays. As with Friday night, once in awhile -- not even on every ride -- an unprovoked motorist will do a brush-by pass, pass unnecessarily dangerously, honk or yell, etc., while the group is riding normally in a single lane where other vehicles managed to pass safely without drama. There's always an a$$h0l3 in the crowd, usually driving a new oversized dually pickup with flared fenders and wing-like mirrors that has never seen a day's work; a battered old SUV with the windows down, driven by an angry guy who's sick from the heat and huffing carbon monoxide in his crappy old vehicle; or a sports car. When you see enough of this pattern it's not a cliche or profiling, it's simply a predictable thing with some drivers of certain types of vehicles.

Most other groups I've participated in divide into A and B groups. The speed definition varies, but the range is familiar to each group participant. For one club, the B group may mean 12-14 mph, the A group 15-17 mph. For another club the B group is 15-17 mph, the A group 18-22 mph. Participants usually manage to stay together closely enough to minimize gaps. They observe the usual practice for the "Idaho Stop" (stop signs=yield; red lights=stop signs -- stop, look, go when safe). Intersection delays to motorists are almost non-existent, and when they do occur the delay is only a moment -- a second or two. That might occur once or twice in a 50 mile or longer ride.

Generally speaking if your large group follows the same practices as police or civilian security escorts for funerals, motorcades and convoys, you'll be fine. If your small group observes the standard Idaho Stop practice, you'll be okay because you won't be in conflict with drivers. The Idaho Stop does not mean recklessly blasting through stop signs and red lights.

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Group rides generally fall into two categories: fast/close/no gaps and slow/large gaps.

I've been doing group rides for decades and the rule in fast/close groups with no gaps is to act like a bus. If you have people deciding to unilaterally stop it's carnage. There is no issue with motorists. They see a stream of motorists going by and it's just like a long truck and trailer. Just because the truck entered on yellow and the light turned red before the trailer enters doesn't mean the trailer needs to be unhitched so it can stop. Yes, cyclists are not physically connected like a truck and trailer, but for all intents and purposes in a fast/close group they may as well be. In any case the dynamic and effect on cross traffic is the same. People imagine all kinds of issues with it but I've never seen or even heard of an actual one.

Nobody wants every single cyclist in a group of 20, let alone a group of 100, to come to a complete stop.

That said, if a gap develops then those after the gap should stop on red.
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Old 11-05-17, 11:42 PM   #21
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I've been doing group rides for decades and the rule in fast/close groups with no gaps is to act like a bus.
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This sums it up correctly. If the group is a single tight swarm, then they can and should act like a long vehicle.
Why wouldn't this same "rule" apply to tailgating motorists?

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I've been doing group rides for decades and the rule in fast/close groups with no gaps is to act like a bus. If you have people deciding to unilaterally stop it's carnage.
So tailgating increases risk of carnage. What a surprise!
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Old 11-06-17, 09:29 AM   #22
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Why wouldn't this same "rule" apply to tailgating motorists?
It's a question of outlook.

I wasn't stating a rules or laws, just speaking from the point of view of safety as common sense.

When the light changes, the traffic that now has the green still has to wait for the intersection to clear. That's still true (at least in NYS) even if new traffic is now entering illegally. So a tight continuous stream would be (reasonably) safe even if illegal. OTOH a gap could be an invitation for a driver to start.

As far as the law goes, cops here in NYC ton't tend to ticket those who enter on new reds as long as they're not pigs about it. Likewise with cyclists, you're not likely to get cited if part of a tight pack and enter within a second or two of the light changing.

OTOH - some common sense and courtesy are called for when riding in long packs. At 20mph about 4 close bikes pass per second, so a peloton of more than 12 bike lengths needs to think about their effect on cross traffic.
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Old 11-06-17, 10:38 AM   #23
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Why wouldn't this same "rule" apply to tailgating motorists?



So tailgating increases risk of carnage. What a surprise!
In the case of bicyclist group riding crashes "carnage" is overstating the problem, of course. Group ride crashes very rarely result in injuries that are fatal.

When cars are involved we all too often have true carnage. How appropriate. CARnage.

Speaking of appropriate, most state laws that prohibit "driving too closely" specifically address drivers of motor vehicles and so do not apply to bicyclists. And rightfully so. Same with laws against racing on public roadways. Perfectly legal for bicyclists (given that other traffic laws are obeyed).
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Old 11-06-17, 10:49 AM   #24
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In the case of bicyclist group riding crashes "carnage" is overstating the problem, of course. Group ride crashes very rarely result in injuries that are fatal.

When cars are involved we all too often have true carnage. How appropriate. CARnage.

Speaking of appropriate, most state laws that prohibit "driving too closely" specifically address drivers of motor vehicles and so do not apply to bicyclists. And rightfully so. Same with laws against racing on public roadways. Perfectly legal for bicyclists (given that other traffic laws are obeyed).

I really don't care if tailgating other cyclists is legal or not, my point is that cycling in tight packs does increase the risks of crashes and injury. No thanks!
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Old 11-07-17, 02:07 PM   #25
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I really don't care if tailgating other cyclists is legal or not, my point is that cycling in tight packs does increase the risks of crashes and injury. No thanks!
Yes, it does indeed. But just like in traffic each individual rider has more control over the odds of crashing than perhaps most realize.

But yeah, if sh!+ happens in front of you and suddenly you're confronted with a field of bodies, you're probably going down too. It's a risk all group riders take, hopefully knowingly.
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