Riding Etiquette and Safety


  • Bike helmets are compulsory when cycling with Clapham Cycle.
  • Also required: spare inner tube(s), tyre levers, pump, money, drink, mobile phone.
  • In winter/darkness/poor visibility: good quality lights, reflective materials.
  • Weather forecast-dependent: waterproof top, mudguards.

Rider readiness:

  • Always arrive at a ride having had a proper breakfast and without a hangover! If you’re not feeling well enough to ride, inform the ride leader and stay at home.

Bike maintenance:

  • Know how to change an inner tube.
  • Check your bike regularly, especially before a ride. Remember the ABCD (Air, Brakes, Chain, Direction). In other words, are tyres pumped up? Brakes working properly? Chain lubricated and rotating freely? Handlebars straight and firmly held in place? Also check gears are properly adjusted.

Basic riding skills:

  • Learn to ride one-handed: important when coming up to junctions and there is a need to signal. It also makes life easier if you need a drink on the move or turn round to have a look behind.
  • Always stop at red lights.
  • Obey the Highway Code.
  • Respect other road users and “represent” the cycling community as well as possible.

Group riding:

  • Pick the right colour group for your ability. The ability guide on the club website gives an indication of how fast this will be.
  • The ride leader will generally ride at the front of the group and you should not overtake the leader without talking to them first. The ride leader will usually be familiar with the route and have a good deal of cycling experience. Please respect the ride leaderʼs instructions including, for example, they decide to shorten a ride due to weather, light or safety concerns.
  • Ride two-abreast only when it is safe to do so. Riding two-abreast helps the group form a compact unit which can ride efficiently but always be prepared to move to single-file when needed to (for example to get past an oncoming car when the road is narrow). On the roads, never go three or more abreast.
  • Communication is key to a safe group ride. Roads are full of traffic, rocks, signs, pot holes, parked cars, animals, pedestrians, and so on and visibility is limited for the cyclist in a pack. It is important to communicate to the riders in the group of potential hazards by shouting and pointing out hazards.
  • Main hand signals: We should try to point out the same hazards or signals, passing the information about what’s coming up on the road down the chain. However, if you are a beginner or unsteady, then is far safer for the group to keep both hands on the handle-bars than it is to point things out. Key hand signals include:
    • Pointing down in the direction of oncoming glass, gravel, drain cover or pothole. If the two riders both point to the ground between them, this signifies there is small obstacle (such as a pothole) that they are going to ride one either side of. Often this signal is accompanied by a shout of “Hole!”, etc.
    • Pointing to the left or right to signal there is something to the left or right that riders might have to ride slightly to the right of to pass. Following riders should follow the signaller’s line to avoid the hazard.
    • Pointing or waving behind lower back. Pointing right (the most common) indicates that the whole group will have to move to the right to overtake a large obstacle such as a parked car.
    • Showing or waving palm of hand behind lower back is a warning to slow down.
  • Shouts: warnings include:
    • “Car Back”: thereʼs a car approaching from the rear of the group ride.
    • “Car Up”: thereʼs a car approaching from the front of the group ride.
    • “Car right” or “Car left”: car is approaching on the left of right of the group ride.
    • “Hole”, “Glass”, “Gravel”, etc.: there is a hazard on the road.
    • “Slowing”, “Stopping”: the group is slowing / stopping due to a junction, hazard or some other reason.
  • Ride smoothly a safe distance from the rider in front, avoid hard braking and stay alert to hazards on the road and signals of other riders. Anticipate what traffic will do.
  • Remember the team. Communicate, support and trust each other. Teamwork is one of the most enjoyable elements to riding in a club.