Riding in a Group – tips from WE Bike NYC!

Part of the fun of riding with a group is the camaraderie you feel with the people you are riding with. But in order to make sure that everyone enjoys themselves and has a safe ride, there are some rules to abide by when riding with a group.

Tips From Our Ride Leaders

  • If you make it through a light and others don’t, keep up with the group ahead.
  • Similarly, if you don’t make it through the light, look ahead and make note of the route of where the group is headed. There should be a float (another ride leader/volunteer) who knows the route and who can continue to lead until you meet up with the group ahead.
  • Everyone takes hills and bridges differently. The group will either stop at the top or at the bottom of the hill/bridge in order to mass up, depending on what the ride leader states.
  • It’s okay to pass someone who is consistently slower than you are. Just remember to let them know you’re passing with a vocal notice (“On your left/right!”)
  • There is a difference between riding in the city and riding in areas that allow for more space for bikes. In the city, you should mostly ride single file in the bike lane (if there is one). If you are riding in an area with more space, you can ride double file but be mindful of any cars coming up behind you.
  • Stay aware and keep up with the group. Straggling behind not only makes it harder for you to catch up, but it can affect the dynamic of the group ride.
  • When you pull up to a red light, stay in your position in line. If you pull up ahead of other riders, that is called shoaling and is considered rude. If you want to pass a person, do so while moving.

Hand Signals/Vocal Signs

These are VERY important on group rides. Because you are riding behind someone, you won’t be able to anticipate everything that’s going on, until it may be too late. These signals start from the very front of the group (with the ride leader) and get passed back to the sweep so that everyone knows what they can expect. Don’t forget to use them and pass them back!

  • Turning Right or Left: Hand/warm pointed in the direction of the turn.
  • Slowing: Hand behind back/on the side with a patting down motion. Use this when you are approaching a red light or a stop sign, so people can anticipate the upcoming stop.
  • Stopping: Full fist behind your back/on the side. Use this when coming to a full stop.
  • Glass/Potholes/Debris: Point to the debris on the sign. For glass and debris, wiggle your fingers.
  • Something on the shoulder: Extend your arm out towards the obstacle, then put your hand behind your back. Use this to let the rest of the group know to watch out for something that could be hazardous (i.e. Pedestrian, dog, parked car with a driver) on the shoulder.
  • “Car back/up/left/right” (vocal sign only): use this to call out any upcoming cars that the riders behind you might encounter. Back for behind, up for coming from the front, left or right depending on what direction the car is approaching.
  • “Clear (vocal sign only): use this at stop signs to let the riders behind you know that there are no cars coming up which they might encounter.

How to pace line

Most WE Bike NYC rides do not require you to know how to pace line, but it is a very good skill to learn and have if you want to do longer rides in groups. Here is an article and a YouTube video that provides some great insight on how to do it.

If you have any tips to share, join us in the conversation at the Female Bike Forum on Facebook!