Q Now that we are encouraged to cycle as a family is there any guidance on riding as a group on paths shared with pedestrians ?
A It's a delight to see families cycling together, especially with young children, but you are right – there can be an issue with other users of these paths if you are not riding in the road.
Its all down to common courtesy really, but to spell it out, what do two family groupsof pedestrians do if they meet? Imagine two parents, a buggy and a toddler meeting another, similar group coming the other way on a six foot wide footpath. Neither group expects to just barge through and force the other to stand aside and back into the hedge, do they?
Normally, they'd drop back to single file , tell the toddler to do the same , and rein in the dog if they have one.
Thats essentially what cyclists should do and if they are coming up behind a group, ring their bells.
A lot of family cycling groups will have young, inexperienced riders and of course they are often concentrating on the basics of riding a bike – keeping balanced on two wheels (four if they have stabilisers) – steering and sometimes looking down to see where the pedals are for their feet. Expecting them to be aware of other road users path is an extra “ask” so parents need to be thinking for them as well, and giving instructions
We also need to watch out for random novice riders coming the other way.
Its a good opportunity to start basic road rules – keep left , that way we don’t bump into each other ! It will soon become automatic to move to the left of oncoming “traffic”.
When riding as a young family it is recommended that an adult or older child leads the way, with a responsible adult rider at the back to keep an eye on the youngsters. This automatically lends itself to single file riding.
With more confident riders they may want to ride side by side and chat, as pedestrians do, and why not on a social ride not on the carriageway?
That's fine as long as you are all aware of other people and keep your group tidy and courteous to others. Even adult, club cyclists keep their group tidy and drop into single file in traffic.
So that's it, just be kind to each other, and enjoy riding safely.