Group Riding and Pacelines
Information on this page is provided for educational purposes. FCCC's official Safety Policies are based on the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) Five Rules of the Road and the Colorado Department of Transportation's Colorado Bicycling Manual.
Beach City Cycling Club: "Pace Line Basics" by Al Burdulis
This is one of the best publications we found for straightforward advice on pace line riding. Here is a sample (with our emphasis added):
We also recommend, "15 Tips for Riding in Paceline" by John Mash
1) Don't do anything suddenly!
2) Don't do anything suddenly!
3) DO NOT DO ANYTHING SUDDENLY!!
Introduction to Signaling
The ability to quickly and efficiently communicate with fellow cyclists is a necessary and responsible habit to learn. Hand signals and vocal calls are the two best methods for communicating with other cyclists. The responsible cyclist will use hand signals as the primary means of communication along with vocal calls as a secondary means when appropriate. Please note that when riding with a new group you should pay attention to the hand and vocal signals they use and adapt accordingly.
You do not need to memorize these signals before riding with FCCC. You will quickly find that most signals are fairly easy to understand in the context of the situation.
A Google search will quickly show that there are numerous alternatives for use of hand signals in cycling. The following reflects the common practices for FCCC.
Learning and using hand signals can greatly enhance safety when riding in a group. Using hand signals allows you to effectively point out objects in the group’s path of travel as well as to inform other cyclists of your intentions. Below are a few of the basic hand signals that you should become familiar with if you intend to ride in a group.
This signal is a clear indication to the cyclists behind you that you’ve stopped pedaling and that you are slowing or
intend to bring your bicycle to a complete stop very soon.
Never make an immediate stop, even after signaling, unless an emergency situation warrants it.
This hand signal is often combined with a loud vocal call of "Slowing" or
Left or Right Turn
An extended straight arm is used to indicate to fellow cyclists and vehicular traffic of your intention to make a left or right turn.
Except as noted below, we suggest you do not use signal of extending your left arm and bending the forearm upwards at 90 degrees. There seems to be growing consensus that the bent left arm (see next signal) can be misinterpreted
(for use only in large groups)
We recommend using this traditional signal for a right turn only when leading a large group and the straight right arm signal might not be easily seen.
Note:Page nine of CDOT's Colorado Bicycling Manual shows that either the traditional signal or the straight right arm may be used for a right turn.
Road Hazard This signal is used to identify a hazard on that the group is riding on. Potholes, drainage grates, and manhole covers are great examples of items you should identify using this signal.
Make sure that you point at the hazard, as it appears ahead, allowing sufficient time for it to be avoided.
This signal s used to alert cyclists of a scattered hazard on the road that could cause traction problems.
Examples of a scatter hazard include loose gravel, sand and broken glass. Instead of simply pointing at the hazard, like you do for the “road hazard” signal, you make a waving action with the open palm of your hand facing the ground.
This signal is used If your group is coming up on a parked car in the way, passing an oncoming runner, approach a narrow bridge, road sign or other obstacle, or overtaking a slower rider.
Typically this means taking your right hand and waving it behind your back. The motion goes from right to left, signaling everyone to move left.
You may also use your left hand motioning to the right, but that is rare since that road lane probably contains oncoming traffic.
Leaving the Pace Line by Moving to the Left or Right
This signal tells the cyclists behind you that you’ll be moving out of the pace line to the left or right allowing them to pass you to take up the lead position in front of you.
The signal is commonly referred to as a "chicken wing." Bend your arm and flick your elbow in the direction you will be moving.
Under the prominent suggestion of not doing anything suddenly, you
should make this signal for a couple of seconds before moving.
Vocal calls are an important addition to hand signals to communicate in a group of cyclists. Ambient noise from traffic or other sources may present problems with vocal calls along your route, so stay aware of your conditions and use necessary precautions to ensure the safety of all riders. Below are a few of the basic vocal calls that you should become familiar with for riding with FCCC.
When an intersection is safe to cross you can call out “Clear”. NEVER call out “No” as this can easily be confused with the word “Go”.
Slowing or Stopping:
Yell “Stopping” if you are going to be stopping your bicycle quickly. It is best to give the riders behind you an ample amount of warning before you stop. Announce that you are “Slowing” as you roll up to a traffic light or stop sign. This gives the other riders plenty of time to prepare for your next call of “Stopping”.
Those at the back of the group shout this when there is a vehicle behind the group and it is attempting to pass. NEVER call out “Car” as this can be confused with “Clear”.
Car Up, Rider Up, or Walker Up:
"Car Up" is shouted by those at the head of the group when there is an oncoming car (e.g., entering the intersection in the opposite direction of travel). NEVER call out “Car” as this can be confused with “Clear.” Rider Up or Walker Up is called when there is bike rider on a trail coming toward the group in the opposite direction or the group will be overtaking a Rider or Walker in the direction the group is headed.
This vocal call is reserved for those riders who are comfortable enough to assess the status of a yellow light. A vocal call of “Rolling” is used to alert the cyclists behind you that you will be rolling through a yellow light because you’ve deemed it to be safe. Likewise, this call alerts those cyclists behind you that they need to make their own decision of whether to announce that they will also be “Rolling” through or “Slowing” and “Stopping”.