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With two or more riders, the etiquette is that the rider in front is also a decision maker and they need to be aware of the size of the group / bunch and make a safe judgement regarding the timing of the lights. Generally an amber light is about 4 seconds (give or take) and a judgement should be made whether the bunch can stop safely - there is ample time and space or if there is enough time to pass through.
If it is decided to ride through (Green / Amber) then a clear call is made "Rolling" i.e. rolling through.
If it is decided to stop, a clear call is made "Stopping" and when there is plenty of space to stop, a hand signal may also be made. The call "Slowing" can be made if there is plenty of space (for example, itis anticipated that the lights will again turn green so a complete stop is not necessary).
The etiquette of the riders following is to repeat a call so that all riders know if the group is stopping or rolling through.
For a very small group, this will solve any misunderstandings although it is possible to also make a wrong call and misjudge. If the lights happen to turn red - sometimes it is still better to continue. Remembering that bikes are a slower vehicle and need more time, plus other traffic entering also way a few seconds until the get green - you have to put common sense first. I am however not advocating going through red and this can usually be avoided.
The difficult scenario is with long bunches and I have sometimes made the very unpopular decision on a few occasions when I have been in the middle to stop which causes the bunch to split. This breaks the group and a lot of riders hate that.
Sometimes it is the failure of the lead rider to recognise the size of the bunch and choose to stop and other times it is just a really long group... riders need to be aware that when crossing intersections that is ok to split the bunch but the person who decides has to be very clear in signalling this and ensuring that there is enough room to stop. The front group would follow the etiquette of slowing and letting the second group catch up again.
On a road bike you should permanently have an exit strategy. Particularly in locations like crossing and intersections, instead of drafting exactly, the riders following may open up a bit more space and also ride slightly offset. Big bunches can have all riders slightly offset (left / right / left/ right) even when riding two abreast. The riders behind will carry responsibility for maintaining a safe distance, trying to think ahead and anticipate risky scenarios while mentally planning their exit strategy.
In this particular scenario, a strategy for a front rider to give a closely following rider a better change could be to call out 'Stopping' and also move substantially to one side (left or right) so that a rider following gains a bit more stopping space and in theory could even get a chance to pass.
Experience very often helps reduce risks though there will also always be riders who are stubborn or who can't/won't learn bike handling and etiquette.
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London Boy wrote:So it's really no mystery is it, why around 1200 people are killed every year on our roads? And countless more injured and disabled?
Not really no. Meanwhile in Melbourne a truck driver has hit and killed a pedestrian and not even stopped. Actually it seems he didn't even realise!!
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There are the road rules. Amber means "stop if you can". A stopping/slowing vehicle must indicate their intentions, usually by a signal, but for riders a voice-call is preferred and more practical. Following riders must allow safe braking distance; drafting riders are always taking a calculated risk. If the warning has been given, the responsibility lies upon a following vehicle to avoid any collision.
If riding in a group this communication becomes more crucial from a viewpoint of ettiquette. Trailing riders should hang back in case of a sudden stop. You MUST call any sudden stop if you know there are group riders around you. It is crucial that you are predictable - 'GO' then 'STOP' is a really poor thing to do. If you lack the confidence and experience of judgement it may be best that you stay towards the back in any groups.
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