Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to
keep your balance, you must keep moving
~ Albert Einstein
This month’s Safety Tip comes from the article Why is Riding With A Cyclist Mentality Dangerous? by Coach Robert Wilhite in Road Bike Rider (recommended by Dave Fitch). Robert points out that the people in the back of a pack of riders have the best vantage point for assessing cars coming up from behind and have the best position to signal to those drivers the intent of the group of cyclists. Yet, riders in the back of a pack tend to have a “follow the leader” mentality without assuming responsibility to assess the safety of a turn or signaling to drivers behind the group.
A specific example is when a pack of riders approaches a left-hand turn. It is typically the riders in the front that signal to the left and start shifting over lanes. Riders behind them, especially the ones towards the back of the group, may check that it's clear (though not always) but often don’t signal to drivers that the group is moving to the left. It is the responsibility of every rider in the group, no matter how far forward or back, to assess the safety of a lane change and to signal their intent. In particular, the riders toward the back of the pack have the greatest responsibility to signal to oncoming drivers what the pack is doing.
Don’t blindly follow the leader. Always take individual responsibility to check that things are clear when going through an intersection or changing lanes and always signal your intent, even if you are at or towards the back of a group of riders.