Group Biking Guidelines for Ottawa Easy Riders
April 22, 2015
Principles and Objectives
The Ottawa Easy Riders consists of a group of friends who meet weekly to cycle in Ottawa and the surrounding area. Our goal is to enjoy non-competitive cycling in a social context which takes us on a variety of routes with interesting sites along the way.
As friends, we look out for one another during the ride and treat each other with courtesy and respect. Head counts are done during the ride to ensure that no one is left behind. Riders who run into problems en route can expect the support of the sweeper or a designated rider (and possibly others) until the issue is resolved. The pace of the ride is a moderate 17 to 21 km an hour depending on environmental conditions such as terrain and road surface. Riders are expected to respect the pace set and keep up with the group. Riding in a group such as ours is different from riding with a few friends. These guidelines are intended to help provide a consistent approach and to ensure a smooth, safe and pleasurable group ride.
Safe Cycling Guidelines and the Law
For the safety of all involved, riders are expected to review and adhere to the guidelines published by the Ontario Ministry of Transport: “Cycling Skills: Ontario’s Guide to Safe Cycling”, including the section on “Cycling and the Law”. This Publication can be found online at: www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/pubs/cycling-guide/index.shtml.
All bicycles need to be maintained in good working order. The Publication outlines safety checks to carry out on your bicycle. Rear-view mirrors are highly recommended.
All riders are also expected to observe Ottawa’s bylaw banning riding on sidewalks, also online at: www.ottawa.ca/en/residents/transportation-and-parking/cycling/cycling-and-law.
Before the Ride
If you are riding, please email only the marshal.
Please familiarize yourself with the route as described in the marshal’s email or on the website.
On the day of the ride: check your email at 8 a.m. or later in case the marshal has had to cancel the ride, usually because of inclement weather; have your cell phone turned on in case last minute issues develop.
Just before the group heads out, the marshal will review the ride and announce the names of the traffic cop and the sweeper.
The marshal may decide to split the ride into two groups dependent on the course (e.g. extent of public roads, dedicated paths, crosswalks or public intersections), the challenges along the route (e.g. hills, weather) or the number of riders participating. The marshall will assign a second marshal (who is familiar with the entire route proposed), a second traffic cop and a second sweeper. Riders may choose the group with which they wish to ride.
On average, you can expect two rest breaks of about 10 minutes (one of which includes a bathroom break) as well as short stops on hilltops or at traffic lights. If possible breaks occur at a point of interest.
Respect the time limit for breaks. If you are not ready to proceed, inform the marshal well before the ride resumes.
If you are riding at the tail end of the group, your breaks will necessarily be shorter, but you will be given adequate time to rest.
During the Ride
The marshal leads the cavalcade and the sweeper is the last rider. Although riders may be accustomed to the route, please stay between the marshal and the sweeper throughout as each ride is fine-tuned with specific breaks, crossings and variations. Be on the lookout for our designated traffic cops guiding riders through tricky turns and crossings.
After a stop or break, be patient as the people in front of you resume the ride. If you wish to move further up the line, wait until the cavalcade is well under way.
As a courtesy if you hear a warning (“hill, hole, mud, stop,” etc.), please pass the message up or down the line as appropriate, in an audible voice. If a problem develops anywhere in the cavalcade, audibly request a “stop”, which riders will pass up and down the line.
Signal your intentions: use hand signals for turning and stopping; use your bell and/or voice (“passing on your left”) to warn cyclists or pedestrians.
Leave plenty of room between yourself and the rider ahead of you when approaching hills to give everyone a chance to speed up and then gear down as they ride through.
Ride single file on rural roads, narrow paths, small hills, etc., and maintain two bike lengths between riders in case of unexpected stops.
Stay on the right side of the path, especially on hills, so faster riders can pass on your left.
When stopping, always get yourself and your bike completely off the bike path or road.
If you decide to leave the group before the end of the ride, let the sweeper or marshal know.
Turning and Crossing at Roadways, Intersections and Bicycle Paths
In advance of an upcoming controlled intersection the marshal may indicate the preferred option for the group but each rider always has a personal choice to cross as a vehicle or as a pedestrian and to proceed at his/her own rate. Nevertheless, for either option, try to stay comfortably close together because a group is more visible than scattered individual riders and vehicle drivers are more patient if bikers are not strung out.
The directions of the Easy Rider traffic cop will be helpful at controlled intersections, crosswalks, roadway crossings and pathway bifurcations where safety, group efficiency, group cohesiveness and route direction must be considered.
To cross at controlled intersections, riders have two options.
1) Wait for the vehicle signal light and ride forward as a vehicle in the vehicle lane.
2) OR get off your bike close to the right hand side, wait for the pedestrian light then cross as a pedestrian, pushing your bike across the crosswalk.
To make left turns at controlled intersections riders have two options:
1) Make a vehicular left hand turn in which case riders turn from the left hand vehicle lane as a car.
2) OR make a pedestrian left hand turn in which case riders wait for the walk light and then push their bikes across the first cross walk and then wait at the second light to turn left to continue to push their bikes across the second crosswalk.
When a bicycle path crosses streets or roadways the marshal will signal the approach in advance so that the group can slow down yet maintain a steady pace in order to pass through any gates, to look for oncoming traffic and to proceed across as compactly as possible. Those who cross first wait for the remaining riders or continue slowly until all have crossed.
While waiting at uncontrolled street crossings, stay close to the curb to avoid blocking the roadway
After the Ride:
A meeting place for lunch after the ride is designated by the marshal.
Easy Riders Guidelines Committee: Leslie Bown, Rob Seeley, Gérald Simoneau, Eileen Wilson (Chair)