CTC Lothians and Borders

A member group of Cycling UK

CTC’s Safe Riding Guidelines

These are the Safe Riding Guidelines for CTC Lothians and Borders which are in accordance with the guidance provided by Cycling UK.

Group cycling is safe provided that simple rules are followed.  Please take time to familiarise yourself with the guidelines which follow, and ensure that you comply with them when taking part in member group runs.

Group awareness and communication are the key elements to group safety.
Experienced group riders are encouraged to give friendly advice on the
spot to others who are not following the guidelines, in order to maintain
group discipline and to progress in a safe fashion.

Non-members are welcome on the runs, and if you enjoy it enough to
be a regular rider, we encourage you to join the Cycling UK.  There are many advantages in joining Cycling UK and to find out more go to www.cyclinguk.org

In the light of child protection legislation, our policy is that anyone under the age of 16 can only take part in our activities if accompanied by an adult who takes responsibility for them.

What you need on a ride
  • A cycle in good working order with mudguards to avoid spraying the rider behind.
  • Tyres in good condition. If you use slick tyres, you might wish to consider changing to more robust tyres with a tread in winter
  • Tool kit, puncture repair kit, at least 2 spare inner tubes.
  • Front and rear lights on winter and evening rides and on dull days.
  • Clothing that will be suitable for the prevailing conditions, e.g. high visibility and adequate to keep you warm and dry.
  • Adequate food and drink for the day’s ride.  Sufficient money for cups of tea, snacks.
  • Each rider should carry emergency contact details both on their person (card in wallet/purse, ICE on mobile) and in their bike bag.
  • The group will always do their best to help anyone in mechanical difficulty.  However, you are ultimately responsible for looking after yourself and getting yourself home.
How our groups ride
  • If you are new to the group introduce yourself to the leader, and tell them of any special needs or issues.  You will be asked to give your contact details and those of your emergency contact.  Make sure you have the mobile phone number of the leader in case you get separated from the group.
  • The run leader will give the group an indication of the proposed route at the start of the ride and will advise of any particular issues.  You should follow this advice.
  • Any sub group proposing a different route at any point in the day should advise the run leader and the group of its plans.
  • Follow the Highway Code, showing consideration for all road users.
  • In order to facilitate overtaking traffic, ride in small groups of around 6
  • Keep at least 50 metres distance between groups and significantly more if the road is particularly busy with cars stacked up waiting to pass or long vehicles.
  • Always keep to the left of the road about 2 to 3 feet from the kerb or verge.
  • You may ride 2 abreast if it is safe to do so on quiet roads or cycle paths but do continue to pay attention and don’t get distracted.
  • Single out on a narrow or busy road, when vehicles approach or opposite a continuous white centre line.
  • Single out when going up or down a steep hill, in order to allow overtaking by faster cyclists.
  • When singling out the rider on the outside should drop back and make sure there is space to get in.
  • Never overtake to the left of the cyclist in front.
  • Do not bunch up when stopping at junctions or block the sightlines of other road users.
  • Be aware that the cyclist in front can make an unexpected move, so leave sufficient gap to be able to react and avoid colliding.
  • If you make an unexpected move you are likely to bring down both the rider behind and yourself.  Always signal your move- shout “Slowing!”, “Stopping!”, “Passing” etc.
  • Shout and signal warnings of danger or change, e.g. uneven or loose surfaces, vehicles approaching or left and right turns.
  • Always check behind before starting off or changing direction. Be particularly careful to check behind you when turning right.
  • When turning, signal early and clearly.
  • The group will regroup at appropriate points to allow slower riders to catch up.
  • You are expected to keep up with the group.  If you lag behind, you may be asked to make the effort to close the gap.  If you are unable to do so, the back marker will advise the leader and they will discuss with you the best options to get home safely.
  • Pass a message forward if a gap develops behind you, or if a rider drops behind, e.g. with a puncture or mechanical problem.
  • Please take your turn at the front when there is a strong headwind, if you are able to do so.
  • In the event that you are threatened, assaulted or abused while riding,
    report the incident to the police. 101 for non-emergencies and 999 for emergencies.
  • If you see potential trouble spots on Edinburgh bicycle paths etc.
  • Contact the Community Safety Teams:  Telephone: 0131 529 7050 or report to City of Edinburgh Council.

Reviewed and Updated January 2017 by Ride Leaders 2016/17

Information for Potential New Ride Leaders with CTC Lothians and Borders

Being a ride leader is enjoyable and rewarding. If you are a regular cyclist and a member of our group why not consider becoming a ride leader or speak to other ride leaders to get more information?  We are always pleased to have new volunteers and there is no commitment to a set number of rides. If you can’t manage your set day, it is usually straightforward to swap with another leader.

Cycling UK have a comprehensive handbook for ride leaders and other useful resources available here.

Information on how to lead a ride with CTC Lothians and Borders

There are winter and a summer programmes which are compiled by the rides organisers. They will allocate a destination for a picnic in the summer and a hall or café in the winter. They will also allocate a start point. They will ask for volunteers for each of the rides and leaders agree based on availability.

The leader plans a suitable route taking into account the Runs Information on the website and the time of year. It is advisable to recce the route if you are unfamiliar with the roads.

The runs organiser also provides details of the hall and you should check that all is in order a day or two before the ride.  It can also be useful to advise a café lunch stop if a large group is expected.

The leader posts details of the run on the Yahoo Group a few days before the ride.

You should check the weather.  Occasionally leaders do have to cancel rides if particularly in very strong wind or icy conditions.  The riders are asked to assemble at 9.50 am to allow 10 minutes for the leader to take a register and collect any contact details from new riders.  An up-to-date list of contact details is sent out monthly to leaders. Do check that new riders have read the Riding Guidelines.


The leader should give an indication of the proposed route, toilet stops, lunch and coffee stops. They should also indicate any likely hazards- poor surfaces or roadworks etc.  They should also do a head count and suggest the number of people per group when on busy roads. The leader should ask for a volunteer to be back marker.

On the ride, it improves the safety of those behind to point out potholes and other hazards and oncoming cars. As a regular rider, you will have learned how this is communicated by our group.

Most rides have a degree of mixed ability amongst the riders, particularly the Sunday rides where people attend less frequently and so it is helpful if the leader stops now and again at appropriate safe points to reassemble the groups and assess how all the riders are faring.  A short stop for the slower riders is often much appreciated.  If the groups are spread out, a turning point may not be visible to the group behind, so the leader should either stop at a safe point before or after the junction or allocate someone to act as a signpost.


Role of the Back Marker

The back marker indicates to the leader when the whole group has come up and keeps the whole group together.  The back marker also keeps an eye on the slowest of the riders and will encourage them to keep up with the group.  If a member cannot keep up the backmarker will advise the leader and they will discuss with the rider the best options to get home safely.


Punctures and mechanical problems

Ride leaders do not have to be able to change an inner tube although it is definitely a useful skill to have and we would encourage anyone to practice. If a puncture occurs there may be experienced cyclists willing to help the rider, but ultimately a rider is responsible for getting him or herself home.  As leader, you should offer advice to the rider on ways they might do this and confirm with them that they know what to do.



If a rider has a minor injury but wishes to continue with the ride, it would be appropriate to check after a while that they are still feeling ok.  If a rider is injured and wishes to leave the ride on their bike, consider offering a companion to see them home.  If a rider is injured and cannot continue with the ride, make arrangements for them to be picked up by a friend or taxi or ambulance if necessary.  For any significant event, you should complete an incident form and copy in the Chair and Secretary.

You can read Cycling UK’s “What to do in an emergency on a ride or event” and “How to report a serious incident” which has incident form here.


Top Tips from our regular ride leaders

No matter how experienced a leader, things can sometimes not go as planned!  Here are some common challenges that you may wish to keep a look out for:

Leaders should not assume that everyone who joins a ride especially on a Sunday is an experienced cyclist.  Emphasise that everyone should have read the safe riding guidelines.

You could consider emphasising two or three points which you think are particularly pertinent to your route or the weather conditions etc.

Riders can get caught up in their conversations and lose concentration.  Leaders are not likely to see this as they are in front.  If you get any feedback from other members of the group about a rider who may endanger themselves or others, it would be appropriate to have a tactful quiet word.

When a large group is subdivided into an ideal subgrouping of around 6 on busy roads, the subgroups, nevertheless tend to string out.  Some leaders allocate a leader for each group others rely on riders counting the numbers in front and leaving a suitable gap.  However, a leader can help by keeping the pace comfortable for slower riders so they do not lag behind their own subgroup.

Bunching up at junctions.  Try not to wait for stragglers at junctions by anticipating a turn and stopping before or after at a safe place where we don’t block the traffic.

Double punctures!  When the offending thorn or shard cannot be found, it is worth remembering that there could be another puncture and check that the rider and back marker are part of a group.

To become a ride leader

Once you have familiarised yourself with this information, ask the leader on your next ride if you could ride with them so that they can point out what they are doing and you can ask questions.

You may only need to do this once but free to do this as often as you want until you are comfortable with the process.

Look at the programme and ask one of the leaders in the future if they would allow you to plan and assist them in leading their ride with them acting as mentor to give feedback.  You may need to do this only once but you need to be guided by their feedback.  You can do this again if you or they feel you need more practice.

You should discuss your proposed route with the leader beforehand.  You can use maps or GPS devices and consider doing a recce. If you need help with any aspect of route planning, Mapometer, Strava, Garmin or any other online tool ask around and there will be someone willing to help.

When you and your mentor are satisfied, the committee with arrange for you to be registered as a volunteer leader with Cycling UK.  They can let the rides organiser know and you will be included in the next programme.  You can choose whether you want to lead rides on a Sunday or a Wednesday but most people prefer to start on the shorter rides.