The Increased Risks of Biking in Groups

Since the weather has gotten nicer, you’ve started to take your bicycling more and more seriously. You not only commute to work by bike, but also you try to go for nightly rides as well. You’ve been urging your family and friends to ride with you, but you can never get a definite commitment. Therefore, you’ve been researching bike groups in the D.C. area, such as The Bike Rack and Potomac Pedalers, but you’re not 100 percent sure about their safety.

Your family is concerned that riding with a lot of people may be dangerous. Is this true? Are you more at risk for injury when riding in a group?

Group Biking Hazards

According to the Centers for Disease Control, recreational group bike riding and racing is the second most dangerous recreational activity in the U.S., accounting for nearly two million injuries per year. A good percentage of these accidents aren’t caused by motorists but by bikers themselves, who disregard the dangers of riding in groups. Some of those risks include:

  • Limited traffic visibility. When riding a bike, it is important to have a 360-degree awareness at all times. However, when riding in groups, that awareness narrows as a result of having to pay direct attention to the biker ahead of you to avoid a collision. Although it’s important to avoid a bike-to-bike crash, when your focus is limited to the bike ahead of you, you lose sight of the vehicles and pedestrians around you, which could result in a far worse accident.
  • Diminished space. To stay in a group, bikers need to stay compact and keep the distance between one another to a minimum to make sure no one gets left behind. A standard bike lane is between four and five feet wide, permitting at most two bike widths before overlapping into car lanes; this diminishes the space even more. Consequently, the more bikers in a group, the less space available to maneuver, making it extremely difficult to adjust to unforeseen issues such as traffic, emergency stops, and debris.
  • The “follow the leader” mentality. It’s very easy to forget or disregard traffic laws and signals when you’re following the leader. The assumption is that, because the rider in front of you managed to cross safely, you’ll be able to as well. However, this is not always the case, especially in large groups of bikers. If the biker in front of you disregarded a yellow light and just barely made it across the intersection before the crossing traffic began, you may not be so lucky. Likewise, group lane changing cannot only be difficult but if done improperly could result in a massive traffic collision.

The next time you decide to go bike riding with one or more people, make sure you’re all aware of these risks and take the proper precautions to avoid a serious accident.

Make sure your family and friends are aware of the risks involved with biking in groups. Share this page with them via Facebook or tell them to contact us directly to discuss any potential questions or concerns they may have about a recent accident. We’re here to help!

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