Group Riding on Multiuse/Bike Paths -Portland Bicycling Club

Group Riding on Multiuse/Bike Paths

Riding on multiuse paths (bike paths) is fun! The paths are usually in a pleasant park-like atmosphere, nicely separated from cars and usually not too crowded. They are relaxing for a club ride. However, there are still some safety precautions a rider should take while enjoying the ride.

Going down a path can be like going to a dance. First, find a good spot on the dance floor. This means the right side of the path is the place to be to keep the relaxed vibe going. It makes it easy to stay out of the way of others going their way. Single-file riding keeps the flow smooth for everyone on the cycle path. 

Keep some dancing space around you. Leave a little space open so you can dance your “own ride” a little when you feel the need. Stay far enough behind the rider in front of you so you have time to react to an unexpected situation. I find a good rule of thumb is to ride a couple of seconds behind the rider ahead of me. This can change drastically though depending on the situation, rider skill level, pace, and just how I’m feeling that day. If I’m talking to the person ahead of me, I may pull up close to their rear wheel so I can hear them better – careful not to overlap wheels. If I’m not feeling at my best for some reason, I may speak louder and keep my distance.

Couples dancing, if you are going to ride next to someone, be sure they know. Don’t get into an unexpected, awkward position! If you are going to do a little couple’s, or triple’s dance, be sure those around you are OK with the change. Give a little nod, or more commonly take some open space – don’t do a tight squeeze. Plan a little to ride side by side too. Make sure it is safe to do so. Does the rider you are going to dance with have the skill to ride side by side in that situation? Be ready for a change in dance surface or approaching dancers. Be ready to break up and get back to single file riding if needed. If you are behind a side-by-side couple, fade back to allow for those ahead of you to get to the right. Bonus points if you notice a couple behind you trying to get over – don’t fade back to take the space from them.

Jazz hands, I mean hand signals are a good thing. Communication is key, but who says it can’t be fun? Wave those hands and arms like you just don’t care (but actually, you do). Hand signals are your secret language for turns, stops, road obstacles, interesting points along the route, and all that jazz.

As the path squeezes down to a narrow lane, put off the fancy dance moves and go single file. It’s like a quick conga but on bikes.

So, fellow cyclists, let’s turn those single-file rides into a parade of awesomeness. Safety can be fun, and fun is always safer when we roll together!

Gary Lunsford, Member at Large

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