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Cycling in single file is less safe than riding in a bunch

SANDY Henderson (Letters, February 20) asks about brake lights and direction indicators for bikes, but I'm sure that if such devices were a viable option they would be in general use by now.

Riders in a bunch will use an occasional touch on the brakes to maintain their position, but, as with drivers, it is important to look beyond the riders in front so that you have time to react when circumstances change rather than be relying on brake lights.

I have some experience, having first seen from the back seat of my father's car around 1950 a bunch of the kind of sports cyclists referred to by Mr Henderson, and having been a member of that kind of bunch since 1960. These groups work on the basis that the riders at the front will shout a warning to those behind when necessary, in the event of potholes, oncoming traffic, or traffic lights, for example. Likewise, the riders at the rear will warn of traffic coming from behind. Unfortunately, many drivers seem to think they should be able to sweep past without a pause, and become frustrated by any delay to their grand progress. There is no need for a large gap between the riders. If there were it would no longer be a cohesive group, and would become a long line of disconnected cyclists. Riding in single file does not necessarily increase safety andcan have the opposite effect.

The problem for drivers when faced with overtaking a group of cyclists is that, even when cyclists are in single file, there is often not enough width of road for a vehicle to overtake because of vehicles travelling in the opposite direction. Also, it will take longer to pass a line of 20 single riders than it will take to pass those same riders when they are riding two abreast.

I am pleased that Mr Henderson referred to much-needed goodwill and tolerance. It is unfortunately true that not all cyclists ride safely, but all cyclists are aware of the hostility displayed by many drivers which leads on occasion to deliberately dangerous driving, but we all have the right to be on the road (and we all pay taxes).

Driving a bigger or faster vehicle gives no additional rights and (especially if we were to adopt the "strict-liability" rules long applied in the rest of Europe) perhaps puts greater responsibility towards others who are more vulnerable.

Bill Craig,

17 Invergarry Quad,

Glasgow.

Contextual targeting label: 
Automotive

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