Ride Groups of 10
Today we welcome guest bloggers and FBA members John Komoroske and Dave Lawrence from the Sumter Landing Bicycle Club to elaborate of the new law concerning cyclists in groups of 10 or less at a Stop sign.
CS/SB 950 was approved by the Governor on June 29 and became effective on July 1, 2021. One of its provisions allows groups of 10 cyclists (or less) to roll through a stop sign together, or as the law itself more precisely says in adding a new section 6(b) to Florida Statutes 316.2065 (Bicycle regulations) that reads:
(b) When stopping at a stop sign, persons riding bicycles in groups, after coming to a full stop and obeying all traffic laws, may proceed through the stop sign in a group of 10 or fewer at a time. Motor vehicle operators must allow one such group to travel through the intersection before moving forward.
This has raised the issue of whether anyone will be able to utilize the new provision, since groups of cyclists are rarely limited to 10 riders. We have all experienced group rides of 25 or even more riders, which frustrate drivers who try to navigate around the cyclists and can spur them into unsafe, rude and dangerous passing behavior.
SLBC Group Riding
We in the Sumter Landing Bicycle Club (SLBC) have been limiting our ride groups to 8 by the policy of our Board of Directors since 2016. On May 28 of that year, Lori Gillis (now the Club’s Quartermaster) had dropped this into the Club’s suggestion box:
SUGGEST MAKING GROUPS NO MORE THAN 8 PEOPLE. After experiencing group rides with 12 people and others with 6, I saw a big difference in the safety, passing commands, riding single file (straight line), and enjoyment.
On October 3, 2016, after experimenting with the suggestion for several months, the Board amended its Compulsory Riding Rules (which the Board can enforce with suspension or expulsion for repeated violations) to add:
5. Riding group size: When more than 10 riders are present, divide into sections of 8 or fewer riders. A gap of AT LEAST 50 feet (or better, 50 yards) should be maintained between groups/sections of riders.
In September 2017, this provision was also adopted by The Village Bicycle Club, the other major bike club in The Villages, as part of an effort to standardize local cyclist behavior and make it more predictable for drivers.
How It Works
The policy begins implementation at the ride starts:
Forming a ride group – The ride starter announces who will be leading rides, and the level, speed and distance of the ride as that primary ride leader raises their hand. After all the leaders have been announced, cyclists head over to join the ride they want.
Dividing up – If there are more than 8 riders, the primary leader will ask for additional leaders and sweeps to form following groups, breaking up into as many groups as needed, and not infrequently into groups of up to 10.
Number of groups – Each ride tries to organize into not more than 3 total groups so that the second and third groups can follow the route the primary leader sets by keeping the previous group in sight.
Intergroup spacing. – Each following group works to maintain at the very least 50 feet from the proceeding group, with many ride leaders insisting on 40 to 50 yards so that passing cars can more safely insert themselves between the groups if they are not able to pass all of the groups’ riders at once.
After an initial period of working some kinks out, we have been riding in groups of 8-10 for the past five years. We are happy with the results and plan no changes to our policy. Benefits include:
- Drivers are less frustrated around us because we don’t present unbroken long lines of cyclists and they can pull between us if they can’t pass us all at once.
- Leaders and sweeps can hear each other’s commands much better, especially where intermediate riders fail to pass them up or back
- Straight line discipline is easier to maintain
- Tire overlap is easier to avoid
- Riders are more comfortable with fewer surrounding bikes
- And now, under the new law, we will be able to go through Stop signs – and presumably the many staffed gates in The Villages – as a single group
Some Issues to Consider:
More leaders needed – Since we can sometimes have difficulty getting enough ride leaders to volunteer, we were worried that getting extra leaders and sweeps in order to break up a ride would be particularly difficult. This turned out not to be a problem, since the difficulty is getting leaders who choose and know the ride route, which takes planning and experience. Being a leader of a following group is much easier: you just need to keep the previous group in sight.
Ride group size can vary some – There are times when there are, say, only 12 riders, and rather than break up into two groups of either 8 and 4 or 6 and 6, just one group will be formed. Likewise, groups of 10 are not uncommon; e.g. 20 riders will often form two groups instead of three.
Yield signs – This new law does not specifically address yield signs, which are a popular fixture at roundabouts throughout Florida and in The Villages. Yield signs are usually placed where auxiliary roads lead to major roads.
Gates – Automatic gate switches for large residential housing areas (like The Villages) may not be programmed to remain open for multiple cyclists.
John and Dave are League of American Bicyclists League Cycling Instructors (LCIs), past presidents and current board members of the 800+ member Sumter Landing Bicycle Club, and board members of the Bicycle Friendly Advocacy Council in The Villages. The BFAC spearheaded the successful effort to obtain a Gold Bicycle Friendly Community rating for The Villages – the first in Florida – from the League of American Bicyclists. John and Dave are now working on the BFAC toward a Platinum rating. The Sumter Landing Bicycle Club were recipients of the 2016 FBA Club of the Year award.