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I'm not really a road rider (though I'm a bike commuter), so I'm not in the "in crowd" when it comes to pelotons. I've always felt sort of ambivalent toward them though - I understand the point of a group ride (and how it can be good/fun), but especially in our area it seems nearly impossible to ride in one without disobeying the letter of the law (even if attempting to keep with general intent).

It would be great to have some laws that addressed group rides in a way that benefited everyone - but I'm not at all sure that will ever happen.

Agreed. Perhaps it's also a function of size. A group of 15-20, stretched out a bit into two groups, is a very different story from 50, with one clump of at least 25. Even the most enthusiastic supporter would concede that creates some issues for other road users.

What about motorcyclists who ride together?

In Maryland there's a difference between riding 2 abreast and riding more than 2 abreast. Legally riders are allowed to ride 2 abreast if "the flow of traffic is unimpeded". The law doesn't mention 3 or more. Riding two abreast doesn't impede traffic any more than a solo rider, so taking the lane on a narrow road like MacArthur Blvd or Beach Drive is arguably completely legal (ignoring for a moment the idea that bicyclists ARE the traffic).

A friend of mine just noted that he doesn't like group rides because it creates this tension, may be illegal depending on laws, and is awkward or even dangerous to ride in a discoordinated blob trying to maneuver in traffic (depending on the group).

If you make a group of 50 ride 2 abreast instead of 3 abreast you're going to have a peleton that's probably about 1/3 longer. So instead of 16-17 bikes in a line, 3 abreast, it'll be 25 bikes at 2 abreast.

This will surely lead to more complaints about peletons/mass rides.

In my view, the behaviour of peletons and group rides with respect to stop signs and traffic signals is a bigger problem than the riding two or more abreast issue. What I've seen many times is that the front of a group will get to a stop sign or traffic signal, determine that it is safe and/or legal to proceed (green light, no cross traffic at a stop sign), and cross the intersection. The rest of the group will continue through the intersection even if the light turns red or cross traffic approaches from an uncontrolled direction (i.e. no stop sign from that direction), or from another direction at a 4-way stop. I doubt that this is very dangerous because I don't think a driver would deliberately drive through a continuous stream of bicyclists, but it is certainly inconsiderate. I'll also add that I've seen this less with actual peletons (i.e. a group of people deliberately riding together) and more with informal groups that form on large event rides such as Tour de Cure and the like. The urge to stick together with the people in front of you seems to override all else.

On one large event ride in Baltimore, I was yelled at by multiple riders for stopping at a red light. This was not on streets that were closed to traffic, and there were plenty of vehicles waiting to take their turn on the cross street. On a different event ride on the W&OD Trail, a driver got out of his car and put up his hand and slowly walked across the trail opening to get the bikes to stop - because the trail traffic had a red light, the cross-street traffic had a green light, and there was a continuous stream of bikes that was probably over a mile or two in length and wouldn't have stopped otherwise.

I agree with NeilB, the running of stop signs and lights is a much larger and more danagerous problem. Easy solution, police inforce the stop.

And while we are at it inforce the stop on drivers, and jwalking on peds as well.

Long before we talk about a change in state law, voluntary measures should be tried. If the MoCo police really are concerned, it should be simple enough to contact the known organizers and ask for plan. Complying with the traffic laws would be a start, as the last two commenters said.

But if the "moving roadblock" is a problem, it ought to be possible to devise a solution that makes sense to the police and to event organizers.

12 bikes, riding 3x4 = OMG an impenetrable barrier!

Standard big rig, being wider and twice as long AND taller, blocking all views = perfectly acceptable.

There are very very few instances of a "peloton" riding in DC. Even the big NCVC team rides are usually less than 15 riders, any time I've seen them.

As to the Tour de Cure and other event rides, we could do a whole lot of good by emphasizing the importance of rider education with the organizers. Most every big event ride (including BikeDC) is a showcase of gobstoppingly incompetent riding, and it's rare to see organizers even try to address the issue.

Last time this issue flared up (and it's beginning to look like an annual thing), I suggested to several folks active in the local race/bike club community that they should be more proactive on the issue. Having the Potomac Pedalers board, leaders of MABRA race teams/clubs that are active in the region and owners of bike shops who lead weekly pace-lined group rides should all sign-on to a 'code of conduct' agreement and send it to MoCo officials (and whomever else is getting complaints)would likely carry a lot of weight. All it would say is that each of these groups would follow state, county and/or local laws when riding, and reiterate what those laws are and what their interpretation of them is (ie, 2 abreast on McArthur isn't impeding traffics since the lane is too narrow to share anyways). No one I spoke to about this was interested, yet all the lawyers on the local racing listserve were ready to go to court over the perceived harassment.

WABA's pledge showed just how making that first step can get the results you want. After a relatively small group of cyclists signed on, CM Mendelson was willing to hold a hearing on the lack of enforcement after months of ignoring emails, phone calls and please to discuss the issue.

Riding these roads is much safer with a group than alone. Most groups riding these roads generally respect the rules of the road, but will do what is needed to keep the group safe such as go 3 abreast to make it clear the lane is too narrow to share or have the last bit of a the peleton go through a yellow-to-red light to keep the group together and compact. The ones that don't should be called out. Fellow cyclists should tell shops who lead poorly behaving rides they won't shop there anymore until behavior is changed. Teams that ride like a-holes should have their sponsors called. Having ridden with a team sponsored by a shop in the region and having the owner ream us out after getting a call, I know this has an effect. I've since made some of those calls myself!

motorists need to yield to bicycles.

but they won't do it unless they are battled back.

this is a battle, folks. this culture is not amenable to social change that is democratic, sustainable, and fair. it is a STATIC culture at this point, declining and with the pie shrinking, dominant groups and dominant practices will seek to consolidate their advantage. the car as default transportation vehicle is "too big to fail."

bicyclists can fight. and fight hard. Law enforcement will not help us; neither will elected leaders who are pawns of idiocy and power.

fight. dont back down, and dont accept compromise.

the car culture is doomed for reasons that are too obvious to mention. dont capitulate to it for short term gain...


I think at times cyclists are at the point that motorcyclists were twenty years ago. The problem needs a muli-pronged approach. But there are similarities (not least of which is the prejudice that both are "suicidal risk-takers who deserve whatever they get".

Oficial recognition grew with laws requiring one to keep as far right as practicable if they are 11 mph under the speed limit--that's hardly slow if the traffic is all below the speed limit.

Do you have a cite to an actual law that says that? I'm a traffic law nerd and the only language I've ever seen in a keep-right statute is words to the effect of "when traveling slower than prevailing traffic."

Yes. Md Code Transportaton ยง 21-301(b)

IF the above is true then the majority of the time these groups can take the lane.


It kind of depends on what short-term gain we are talking about. I can be bought, absolutely.

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