Communication in the bunch is key to the safety of all riders. It is important that information is passed quickly and clearly through the group. Hand signals are standard and the preferred method of communication as they leave little room for misinterpretation. Sometimes a shout is necessary but for the most part a rider at the front of a group will use hand signals to indicate hazards or recommended actions to those behind.
Knowing what signals and shouts to use and what they mean is essential. The image below (courtesy of British Cycling) shows the most commonly employed and most important hand signals.
Hand straight up in air. Group is stopping for a junction, puncture or because there is an obstruction in the road.
Move one hand as if gently patting an invisible dog. Group is slowing down or just easing back a bit.
Waving/pointing behind back indicates that there is an obstruction such as a parked car or pedestrian and that the whole group needs to move in the direction indicated to avoid it.
Left or right hand extended out to side. Direction of turn/change in direction coming up.
Pointing down at road sometimes with a circling motion to obstruction on road such as a pothole or deep set drain cover that needs to be avoided. Be sensible with this one and only point out major obstacles. This signal can be accompanied with a call of “hole” for example.
Other signals to be aware of are:
Arm extended and shaking of the hand maybe accompanied with “Loose” or “Glass” – This indicates a loose road surface such as gravel, mud or broken tarmac and is accompanied by shaking a hand over the road.
“Car up” – This warns of a vehicle coming towards the FRONT of the group.
“Car back” – This warns of a vehicle coming towards the BACK of the group.
“Clear”- When turning at a T junction,”Clear” is an indication that the road is completely clear in both directions.
PLEASE NOTE: A shout of “clear” is never a justification for not checking and pulling out. It is every rider’s responsibility to ensure the road is clear for them.
Remember your actions or the lack of them have an effect on your fellow cyclists : Cycling is NOT a dangerous sport but it can be dangerous if you do not behave appropriately – especially when riding in groups.