The ethos of the Westportif has always been to encourage new cyclists to get involved and have fun while doing so. However it is important that we all get there safely so for that reason you are expected to familiarise yourself with the following safety points and put them into practice on training cycles and on the Westport cycle.
- No helmet = no cycling. You will not be permitted to come on the cycle without a helmet.
- Ensure your bike is roadworthy and that the brakes are in good working order. Bike lights are welcomed for dawn/dusk.
- Maintain your line. Notice how steady the experienced cyclists are. Do not swerve out into the path of cars or other cyclists which may be passing. Do not constantly chop and change position.
- Stay the right distance from the bike in front – half a bike length is about right. You can save about 25% of your energy by riding on the tailwind of the bike in front so don’t let those gaps open up and keep the group as a coherent unit. By the same token don’t overlap wheels with the bike in front – one swerve and you could both go down, possibly bringing more people with you.
- Stay back from the lead van – allow a distance at least the length of two bikes. Although a kind windbreaker this places a huge safety burden on the van driver. You will not be able to see any hazards the van driver may have to avoid. A bike safety marshal (high-visibility vest) will be monitoring this.
- Point and call the hazards. Potholes, rocks, gravel etc should be pointed out (even more important than the call) and these signals should be feed back through the pack so that the riders behind with less visibility will know where to expect the hazard. Those at the back should announce traffic where necessary and this should be relayed to the front.
- Signal and call when turning, moving out, slowing or stopping so that other cyclists and cars will know your potential movements and if in doubt, call out your intentions to move. Be steady and try not to make sudden unpredictable movements. If you get a puncture announce loudly that you are “pulling in” and pull out of the way as smoothly as possible. The cyclists behind should signal and call that they are “moving out”.
- Look and announce before changing position – if you do need to move within the group, first look all around and behind you to ensure it’s safe to move, then announce “passing on your inside / outside” as applicable. Give way to a cyclist/car that is already passing.
- If you fall behind the group the support vehicles will pick you up. No exceptions to this as we need to keep the pack together. However you are welcome to get back on the bike at the next stop.
- Follow the directions of the bike safety marshals and support crew. The bike safety marshals* (in high-visibility vests) who will be on the lookout for cyclists not adhering to the rules of the road or wearing a helmet correctly.
Signal and call when turning, moving out, slowing or stopping so that other cyclists and cars will know your potential movements and if in doubt, call out your intentions to move. Be steady and try not to make sudden unpredictable movements. If you get a puncture announce loudly that you are “pulling in” and pull out of the way as smoothly as possible. The cyclists behind should signal and call that they are “moving out”.
*Bike safety marshals are experienced cyclists who act as both goodwill and safety ambassadors along the ride course. Part of my job was to encourage safe cycling behaviour, offer cycling advice when appropriate.
Above all, safety is our priority.