RLC: Trafic Controls

Dealing with traffic controls as a group

Sometimes a group behaves like a single long vehicle, sometimes as individuals.

Stop Signs

At 2-way stop signs, riders should stop, yield, and proceed 2-by-2. Since cross traffic has no stop sign, it’s often not safe for the group to go through as a single unit.

Don’t call “clear” for other riders. If someone does, respond with: “Keep looking.” Each pair must determine when it is safe to cross.

If it takes time for everyone to cross, front riders should pull over, or ride slowly.

At a 4-way (or all-way) stop, the group stops at the stop sign, yields to any stopped traffic with priority, then proceeds through the intersection like a single vehicle. This is safe and efficient because cross traffic will be stopping. It would be a mess for everyone to take turns with other traffic 2-by-2. 

Traffic Lights

Don't Swarm

When stopping at a red light stay in the queue, don’t swarm, and don’t block right-turn lanes or crosswalks.

If a light turns yellow just as the group arrives at the intersection, a small group may make it, but the rear riders of a larger group could see the light turn red. Riders who can stop without creating a hazard for the riders behind them should do so, calling out “stopping” and signaling if they can.

Bringing the Group Back Together

If the light cycle is short, slow the group. The tail will be released quickly and be able to catch up. Once the split riders are back on, call forward to the leaders to let them know so they can resume the ride speed.

If the cycle is long (like crossing a major arterial with left-turn phases), the front group will need to pull over to wait. Find a driveway or street that provides space for the group to turn around easily. Set the group up facing out of the street or driveway so they can pull out in front of the other riders as they are released from the light. It is important to pull out in front of the group because there may be a line of cars behind the group.

Leader Tip

Look for signs that a green light is stale. Pedestrian countdowns are a good clue. Look ahead and pay attention to the length of the green signal — if it’s been green for a long time, it’s likely to change before you can get the group through it.

Crosswalks

yield to pedestrians

Bicyclists are required to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, just like other drivers.

Pre-Ride Briefing

Dealing with traffic controls should be part of a group’s pre-ride briefing, so everyone understands what to do. 

Obeying traffic controls doesn’t just improve safety. It goes a long way toward improving public perception of group rides and the acceptance of cyclists as a normal part of traffic.