Should Cyclists Ride Two Abreast?

Controversy over the comments made on The Late Late show last week has once again raised the debate of whether cyclists should be allowed to ride two abreast.

Comments were made by RTE presenter Maura Derrane and social media personality James Kavanagh when they were asked what they wanted to ‘bin’ in 2018.

While Ms. Derrane said cyclists who ride three and four abreast “really bothered” her, especially when they blocked cars on country roads. Mr. Kavanagh then referred to them as “farm animals” like cows and sheep.

One of the key issues cyclists face is the two abreast debate. A debate that has driven a wedge between cyclists and motorists. This misunderstanding is further accentuated by ‘name calling’ and ‘stereotyping’ said Phil Skelton, head of the ‘Staying Alive at 1.5’ lobby group.

Stereotypes like “all cyclists run red lights” and “all motorists text while driving” pushes the two groups further away from a harmonised relationship.

Mr. Skelton said, “understanding that road users are people…people like you and me and none of us are perfect and do the right thing all the time but we all need to look out for each other.”

However, cycling two-a-breast is well in accordance with the rules of the road. Under the statuary instruments no. 187 Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations 1997, states that “A pedal cyclist shall not drive a pedal cycle on a roadway in such a manner as to result in more than two pedal cyclists driving abreast, save when overtaking other pedal cyclists, and then only if to do so will not endanger, inconvenience or obstruct other traffic or pedestrians.”

The RSA says that it is “often ok” to ride two abreast except when you are on a narrow road, holding up a lot of traffic or overtaking a parked car.

While it is not only legal to ride two abreast it is also the most enjoyable part of the sport for a lot of people. Most people out cycling are out for the day and it is a lot more enjoyable to cycle with someone other than alone.

M. Skelton said, “most car drivers will talk to their passengers and this is not regarded as unsafe driving.” The two abreast cycling also has many other benefits that motorists might not necessarily see.

Riding two abreast makes it safer for the motorist, especially if there is four or six in a group. Because the group is more compact it allows the motorist to overtake the group quickly and safely.

The other reason the two abreast rule is safer for cyclists is that it makes the cyclists more visible to motorists approaching quickly from behind. By making the group bigger the motorist will have to slow down and take proper precautions when overtaking.

If there are three or four cyclists in single file it would mean that some motorists might take more chances overtaking, driving too closely and quickly to get past them in time.

Cycling has become a huge sport and is being compared in terms of popularity to golf. This means that there will be more cyclists out on the roads. With people working hard to raise awareness of cyclists rights, it still comes down to the simple fact that we must share the road for the safety of all users.