As a multi-decade experienced cyclist, these are very interesting mornings out on Beach Rd at 600-700am witnessing fast dynamic bunches passing many smaller slower bunches in 2×2 organised formations, and all too often the crime of ‘cutting in’ is seen. The key concern is that cutting in across the front of other bunches can cause more crashes, and it’s becoming more common practice during our annual summer period of cycling along Melbourne’s Beach Rd ‘leisure bunch-cycling corridor’.
When single bunches are now swelling to over 150 riders, and the frequency of passing cycling packs at the roadside can be higher than 1 every 15 seconds, add that group speeds range from 22kph to 60kph, with much passing going on, and you can see how it really matters that some riders make sudden lane changes or swerve around others unexpectedly.
The practice of ‘cutting in’ is a term for making a dangerous swerving manoeuvre, typically executed by the lead rider of a group diving sharply back in toward the left gutter after passing another slower group.
‘Cutting in’ front of other riders is done to take a passing pack of riders back to the left side of the lane (unnecessarily quickly), or it is a poorly timed part of a peel-off to hand over the lead to the second rider in the line.
Either way, it is considered ‘poor etiquette’ when riding in bunches because the chasing line of riders will invariably veer closer and closer into the slower group as their pace-line tends to drift as they cross leftwards over the front riders of the slower group.
This veering drift creates a significant crash risk for the right hand leading rider who invariably has to retreat to the left side toward their fellow rider while trying to avoid being clipped by the faster passing line of cyclists.
It is part of my current scope of branding pump-up I’m doing going into 2018 and to input some quality topical talk back into the wider cycling fraternity to promote that ‘smarter’ cycling skills are much cooler when executed well, that better bunch riding etiquette (BRE) can be learned by anyone and should be by everyone for a safer overall bunch experience, and that there are other cycling behaviors and practices that you can learn that get everyone moving together faster toward the cultural shift we are now all involved with to get road users in general (riders drivers and pedestrians) to share the bitumen more safely.
Automated cars are going to have a wide passing berth programmed into their software, but cyclists will always always always have to rely on practiced skills an good judgement. Learn the skills. Do it. Do it now.
As our world wanes with peak populations and vehicular traffic, these could be extremely exciting times ahead to be a skilled, healthy, economical, freedom-feeling cyclist.
Get Stronger. Think Smarter. Be Safer. Go Faster. Ridewiser!
written by Rob Crowe O.A.M.
Olympic Cyclist, Presenter, Road Cycling Safety Advisor, Ridewiser Ergo Corporate Team Training Sessions at 1/269 Glenferrie Rd, Malvern VIC 3144