Ride Etiquette

Ride Safety

Cycling on the public roads has many inherent dangers attached, but as a club we want to support and encourage people to ride safely and enjoyably, respecting their fellow riders and other road users.

By taking sensible safety advice and following a few basic "rules of etiquette", we can achieve this, so please read on, and if you are unsure about anything then please email otleycycleclub@gmail.com in advance of a ride, or talk to your ride leader before a ride sets off.

These rules are based on best practice issued to us by British Cycling, to which the Club is affiliated, and on the collective experience of the Club’s riders.

Choose the right ride

Always ride with a group that goes at a rate you can sustain over the entire route. The Club has a number of ride types, so please choose the one that best suits your ability and fitness.

The App on the Club website allows riders to confirm their intention to join a particular ride. Please do make use of this as it is helpful to the ride leaders.

Club rides are labelled as Storm, A, B or Social (with Storm and A the fastest). The website will give an indication of how fast this will be, or how long it will take to ride a certain route, as the hilly routes around Otley don’t always translate to a straight miles-per-hour figure.


This is the single most important consideration for our Club rides, and we ask you to take this very seriously. All riders are responsible for their own wellbeing during a Club ride and should be prepared for situations such as adverse weather conditions, poor light and mechanical problems.

Riders are strongly recommended to hold appropriate third-party liability insurance through Cycling UK, British Cycling, or other similar organisations. Your house insurance is unlikely to give you the required cover.

It is essential that your bike is in a safe and roadworthy condition, with for example, working brakes, properly inflated tyres and charged batteries for lights, e-shifting or e-bikes. If you are unsure many local bike shops will offer a bike check or post a query at otleycycleclub@gmail.com if you want to ask an open question.

Appropriate lighting and high-visibility clothing should also be worn. Re-chargeable rear lights, set to flash, are cheap and are permanently used by many riders to warn car drivers, especially on busy roads. More expensive radar rear view cycle lights offer more safety and are now in common use. Front lights are also becoming increasingly popular during daylight cycling. Front and rear lights should always be used in the evening or at night.

Helmets are required on all OCC rides. Please make sure yours is in good condition. If you have had a fall or it has been somehow hit or damaged, replace it immediately.

When it is wet it is a common courtesy of any group riding, and in line with the respect aspect of our club rides, that you will have at least a rear mudguard on your bike.

Should there be an incident, please support the ride leader and offer any help you can, whether it be making a phone call to seek help, warning other road users (often the most critical thing to do), or assisting with any injured riders.

Health concerns

If a rider has any health concerns about participating in any form of physical activity, then they should consult their GP before you take part in our Club rides.

A rider should let the ride leader know of any medical conditions they consider may be relevant to the rider or group’s safety or wellbeing e.g., asthma, diabetes, epilepsy etc.

OCC is an inclusive club, if you have individual disability or impairment, please contacts us to discuss how we can facilitate and support your participation.


All members will uphold the club’s equality policy. Discriminatory behaviour and language on grounds of race, cultural background, sex, gender, or sexual orientation is not acceptable and will be challenged. We ask everyone, when riding on an Otley ride to have respect for their fellow riders and other road-users.

Ride leaders (or more likely their back markers) will help with mechanical issues, but we would ask all riders to be able to fix basic problems such as punctures. Riders should always carry some spare inner tubes that are the correct size for your wheels, as the ride leaders are not required to carry, and so will be unlikely to have, spares.

We are fortunate to enjoy the beautiful roads and lanes of Wharfedale. Our rides regularly take us through some very small, almost sleepy villages, such as Nesfield and Beamsley where resident's front doors can open directly on to the road. Please show respect for the residents of these and other villages, who may not be as agile as we are, by not cycling through them in groups and at speed.

Please follow the Highway Code at all times, including stopping at red-lights and riding no more than two-abreast. Please respect ALL other road users including drivers, pedestrians, runners, dog-walkers and horse-riders. Where safe to do so, allow drivers to get past you on narrow roads. Do not, however, ‘wave through’ a following vehicle waiting to overtake – let the driver make this decision. This will avoid the risk of being held responsible if the overtaking results in any form of accident.

Please get to the rides on time. We will have a short announcement before each ride and then look to get going.


All members are encouraged to volunteer some of their time periodically to help run club events and rides over the course of the year – as you can see from the link Ride, Event and Committee Volunteering all types of contribution are valued.

And, let's not forget that we do all of this because we love cycling, so let’s do it with a smile on our faces A cheery "hello" to a passing group helps spread the fun to everyone else.

General Group Riding Etiquette

Cycling in a group is fun, healthy and very sociable. All groups need to cooperate and here are a few tips on how cyclists work together when they are riding in a group. No one will do all of these things all of the time; just when it is safe, and you feel confident enough to do so. We don’t expect you to be an expert on your first ride; there is plenty of time to pick things up as you go along.

Cyclists riding in a group cooperate to make sure that everyone has a pleasant, enjoyable ride and returns home happy. Talk to your cycling companions. Pass hand signals or shouts forward and back along the line to warn of turns, potholes, stops, vehicles, mechanical problems and other hazards. Listen to them and act on the calls, and most importantly, repeat them for the cyclists around you.

Follow the Highway Code at all times – it applies to ALL road users.

Cooperate with ALL road users.

You and your bike: Ensure your bike is roadworthy, the brakes work well and your tyres are pumped up to the recommended PSI (written on the side of the tyre).

You are the best person to keep yourself safe. Your first priority in a group is to ride so that you are safe. Get used to basic balancing, pedalling and turning skills before you attend. Practice looking over your shoulder before you set off.

Punctuality: Please get to the rides on time. We will have a short announcement before each ride and then look to get going.

Two abreast: Ride two-abreast when it is safe to do so – this way the group is a compact unit which can ride efficiently but easily move to single-file when needed to.

Singling out: Be prepared on small, winding, or busy roads to ride in single file. Usually, the rider nearest the edge of the road keeps their speed steady or accelerates; the rider nearest the centre of the road slows and eases in behind.

Stopping: Call “stopping” before you brake. Brake as gently and smoothly as you can when riding in a group. When the group stops always make sure that you stop in a safe place. Don’t leave your rear wheel sticking out into the road; make sure that you are out of the way of any traffic coming from behind.

Overtaking: Only overtake another cyclist on their right. Never on their left.

Traffic lights and some roundabouts: Bunch up at junctions so the group occupies the whole width of a lane. Single out as you accelerate across the junction. This prevents cars attempting to overtake the turn left through the line of bikes.

Keep a steady pace: When riding in a group keep pedalling gently and steadily. If you stop pedalling you slow down fractionally and those behind will have to brake.

Make it easy for other road users: It helps other vehicles if you keep the group as a compact unit. Ten bikes in a line, wheel to wheel, would be 50ft long – as long as an articulated lorry. If each rider is 10ft apart (less than a car length) then the line would be nearly 150ft and impossible for any vehicle to overtake safely. Generally, ride in a compact group and leave a gap of about 20ft, big enough for a car every ten riders or so. Thank drivers who pass considerately.

Horses: Always call to horse riders well ahead of passing them. Horses cannot see behind and may be spooked by a cycle – several voices giving a cheery “Good morning” or “Hello, lovely day for a ride” will make the horse and rider aware. Slow right down and pass them as wide as it is safe to do so. The rider may want to turn the horse so it can see you. Never ring a bell or sound a horn – horses are not trained to respond to bells, and they haven’t read the Highway Code!

Runners, pedestrians, dog walkers and other cyclists: Treat the same as horses but using your bell is quite acceptable. They need to know you are approaching.


Here are some of the calls that you might hear. It is essential that you repeat them down the group so everyone can hear.

Car back – Vehicle approaching from front.
Car up - Vehicle approaching from behind.
Stopping – Brake!
Rock, pothole, walker….. – Hazard ahead, pay attention.
Single out – Get into single file safely and promptly.


It is not imperative that all the cyclists in the group point out the same hazards or signals. As long as a few are then this is normally sufficient (and the leading two always should).

Pointing down at the road – This is to point out hazards such as potholes, manhole covers etc. Please copy the signal for the riders behind you if it is safe to do so.

Arm out to the right or left – Everyone in the group needs to indicate when turning left or right.

Left arm signalling behind back, pointing right – Hazard on the left, move out into the road e.g., to pass a pedestrian, parked car, to go round debris in the road.

General tips

Pedalling: Change down your gears when approaching hills so that you can keep a high pedal cadence and you will soon be flying up those hills. If you have difficulty knowing when to change gear, just ask someone to show you.

Braking: Try not to brake heavily when going downhill. If you do need to slow down use your rear brake gently (left hand lever on most UK bikes), As your skills and confidence increase allow yourself the excitement of maintaining your speed and momentum to help you up the next hill.

Stopping: In an emergency stop, call out and apply more pressure on the rear brake (usually the left-hand lever) and shift your weight toward the back of the bike. Practice this in a safe place before you need to do it. It’s worth practising because it helps you to be absolutely confident of stopping really quickly when you need to whilst keeping control of your bike.

Cornering: When cornering quickly try these:

• Keep the outside pedal at bottom centre and shift some of your weight to your outside foot to change your centre of gravity.

• Gently shift some weight onto the front wheel. This increases the traction of the front wheel while it is doing all the work of changing your direction of travel.

Sand and gravel sometimes gathers at corners or dips in the road particularly after heavy rain or winter gritting. Try to avoid it when cornering and shout to warn others behind you.

Happy Cycling!