Riding in a group

The following code of conduct for riding in a group is a slightly edited version (with permission) from the web pages of CTC Northern Ireland. Much of it is common sense, but these are useful rules for riding safely and should be read and observed by SMCTC members.

Also, here’s some advice from Cycling UK about legal requirements and cycling, which clarifies advice in the Highway Code.

Riding in a group

  • Ride in neat formation never more than two abreast. Riding two abreast is permitted under the highway code when conditions permit and means that cyclists form a more compact group on the road. It is often safer to ride two abreast, because it deters motorists from attempting to overtake when there is oncoming traffic, which happens quite often when riding single-file.
  • Single-out on busy or narrow roads, but try to stay in a compact group. It is difficult and potentially dangerous if motorists try to overtake a long line of cyclists.
  • Try to maintain a steady pace and to stay close to the rider in front to minimise the space occupied on the road. It can be disruptive – and even dangerous – to suddenly slow down when riding in a group. If you brake, shout ‘stopping’ or ‘slowing’ to alert those following behind. It is much less tiring to ride in a compact group because you are protected from headwinds.
  • Observe the highway code, including the section on cycling.
  • Use lights at night. Wear conspicuous clothing at night or in poor lighting conditions. 
  • Indicate potholes or debris to following riders.
  • Divide into two or more sub-groups when more than 12 riders, maintaining enough clear road between the sub-groups for traffic to overtake (e.g. 50–100 metres). It is the responsibility of the main ride leader to appoint a deputy leader and a back-marker for each sub-group.
  • Give clear warnings, e.g. 'Car down' (from the front) or 'Car up' (from the rear). This is not necessary when the road is clear and the club is in neat formation.
  • Make sure your cycle is properly maintained; pay particular attention to brakes and tyres. Many punctures can be avoided by regularly examining tyres and replacing before they are worn out.
  • If you have a puncture or mechnical problem on the road, make sure that the leader or back-marker is made aware of it so that you do not get left behind.
  • Exercise care when passing horses and other animals. Do not sound your bell or shout when close as this can have a startling effect on animals.
  • Make clear hand signals, particularly when turning right.
  • Use cycle paths where provided and well maintained. (Some cycle paths are poorly designed and/or poorly maintained. We do not use these, nor are we obliged to by law.) On shared paths a bell (required by law) is a useful way of letting pedestrians know you are there.
Outside The Barrel at Bretton


  • Signal a following car to pass except in exceptional circumstances and never when you cannot see the road ahead for a safe distance. (It is the responsibility of the car driver to see the road is clear.)
  • Give confusing signals to following vehicles.
  • Filter between cars stopped at traffic lights, except on the inside and then never with heavy vehicles.
  • Stop the club at corners or where visibility is poor.
  • Make rude gestures at motorists – it will not improve their driving and will not improve your image.
  • Stop suddenly without warning. Shout ‘stopping’ if you are intending to stop.
  • Cycle on footpaths or in busy pedestrian areas.


It is up to each and every one of us not only to stay alive, but to improve the reputation of cycling by our own behaviour.