Rules and Roles

Our rules and guidance for riders and ride leaders are prepared to provide guidelines for members to promote safe and enjoyable Club riding for all members. 
Download printable PDF: [Club Rules] (Dec 2019)

All Members

All members must read and understand 'Group Ride Safety & Etiquette', 'Bad Weather and/or Icy Conditions', 'Club Rules', 'Rider Safety & Insurance' and 'Youth Policy'. Our Risk assessment can be viewed here.

Group Ride Safety & Etiquette

Download printable PDF: [Group Ride Safety & Etiquette]

If you are new to group riding, these notes on etiquette and safe practice when riding in a bunch may be helpful.  As you may not be familiar with the warnings used in groups, we have also listed the most commonly used terms, signals and warnings that riders give each other.  Above all, use common sense.

Helmets are strongly recommended. Front and rear lights are recommended in darker / overcast conditions.

Select a group within your capability. Ensure your bike is roadworthy and carry tools and spares to mend a puncture. Bikes fitted with tri-bars or aero bars are not permitted for group rides.

Ride safely and encourage others to do the same. Always abide by the Highway Code. Remember that you are responsible for your own and other riders’ safety.

Follow the guidance and instructions of the Ride Leader. 

Groups are encouraged to ride two-abreast when it is safe to do so as this is generally the safest and most efficient way to ride in a group. You should ride single-file when the road is busy or narrow without a clear view ahead, or when directed to do so by the Ride Leader. Never ride more than two abreast.

Maintain a space (approx. 50-100cm) between your front wheel and the rear wheel of the rider in front of you. Avoid overlapping your front wheel with the rear wheel of the rider in front of you as this can be dangerous.

When riding two-abreast, ride about an arm’s length away from the rider beside you with your front wheels in line. Never half-wheel. Half-wheeling is when one rider edges ahead of the rider beside them increasing the speed of the group.

Take great care when overtaking riders in front. Do so in single file, whether those you are passing are in single file or two-abreast. Be aware of oncoming vehicles and ensure you can easily move into the left without causing other riders to take evasive action. When going through to the front of the group, the overtaking riders should continue to maintain a steady pace and not accelerate ahead of the group as this will lead to the group splitting up.

Ride smoothly and at a consistent speed, without sudden changes in direction or swerving, taking into consideration other riders around you. Never slow suddenly or attempt a quick stop without a prior voice signal to those riding behind you.

The riders at the front of the group should point out hazards on the road ahead by using clear hand signals and/or calling out in order to warn riders behind (see examples below).

All signals or warnings should be passed up or down the group so that all riders within the group are made aware.

Always keep looking ahead and stay alert to things around you at all times. 

Riders should be aware of the traffic conditions, be considerate to other road users, whether they be pedestrians, other cyclists, motor vehicles, horses/riders and even cattle. This includes pulling over or stopping if necessary. Note: avoid startling horses with loud noises/bells (especially when approaching from behind) – a warning call from a safe distance is recommended. 

Make space for vehicles to overtake by riding in single file where appropriate or when directed by the Ride Leader.  When riding in a large group, and where practicable without causing the group to split up, it may be appropriate to leave gaps to enable overtaking drivers to avoid traffic coming the other way. If necessary, stop to let traffic overtake.

As you become more familiar with the group in which you are riding, you may find yourself at the front, setting the pace. Should this be the case always be mindful of the speed the group should be riding at and ensure nobody is left trailing off the back.

Don't get too far ahead of the Ride Leader - you may go the wrong way and delay the ride or disappear off it altogether. In these circumstances, it will be assumed that you have left the ride.  If you decide to leave the ride before the end, please let the Ride Leader know. Always allow the group to reform at the top of hills. All riders should be aware of where the last rider is and be considerate to them. 

Never argue with motorists, even if you think they are in the wrong - you could worsen an already dangerous situation.  You and your fellow riders are identifiable as members of Horsham Cycling; you should never act in a way which may bring the club into disrepute.

So, in essence: when in a group, ride smoothly without sudden movements, be aware of the other riders about you and follow the Ride Leader’s instructions.

A detailed risk assessment has been prepared and is available on the club web site. In addition, British Cycling have produced a useful video on group riding.


Here are a few of the shouted warnings used when riding in a group:

Car Front

Car/vehicle approaching from ahead

Car Back

Car/vehicle approaching from rear (note this does not necessarily mean the group needs to ride in single file)

Single out / single file

Get into single file safely and promptly


Brake – but not violently!


Usually at junctions to indicate traffic coming


To indicate that a junction is traffic free (although you should also check yourself, and not rely on others)

Gravel / Ice (etc)

To warn other riders of specific hazards on the road

Ease Up

Slow down, eg to allow the rest of the group to catch up


hand signals

(graphic courtesy of British Cycling)

  1. STOP: Hand straight up in air. Group is stopping for a junction, puncture or because there is an obstruction in the road. Usually accompanied by call ‘Stopping!’.
  2. SLOW: Move one hand as if gently patting an invisible dog. Group is slowing down or just easing things back a bit.
  3. OBSTRUCTION: Waving/pointing behind back indicates that there is an obstruction such as a parked car or pedestrian and that the whole group needs to move in the direction indicated to avoid it. 
  4. TURN: Left or right hand extended out to side. Direction of turn/change in direction coming up.
  5. BELOW: Pointing down (sometimes with a circling motion) to a hazard on the road such as a pothole, drain cover or obstruction that needs to be avoided or noted. Be sensible with this one and only point out major obstacles. This signal is often accompanied with a verbal call as listed above.

Bad Weather and/or Icy Conditions

IF THERE IS A RISK OF ICE, DON'T RIDE. A hard frost will mean stretches of ice on untreated roads. You will be at risk not only because you are on two wheels but also from other vehicles that may lose control on slippery roads.

If adverse weather conditions are forecast, a member of the committee will communicate to all members that club rides will be cancelled for the following day. (Please see Club Rule 9 for full details).

Even if a general cancellation does not occur ride leaders will decide if, in their opinion, it is unsafe to ride, and members must respect the decision made by the leader. It is the responsibility of members to check with the designated ride leader if they want to know whether or not the ride will go ahead; contact details of ride leaders can be found on the Club calendar on the website. If the ride leader doesn't turn up and has given no message to the contrary, members must assume the ride has been cancelled. If members choose to ride without the leader then they will no longer be taking part in a Horsham Cycling Club ride.

Even if the ride leader does turn up and go ahead with a ride, individual members are always responsible for their own decision about whether or not to join the ride and should therefore make their own judgement about whether they consider conditions to be safe.

Due to the difference in bikes, terrain and riding experience an off road ride may still proceed even when on road rides are cancelled.

Club Rules

Our 'terms and conditions' which members agree to when joining:

  1. Annual subscription renewals for existing members will be due on 1 April each year. New members joining at any time between 1 April and 31 December will pay the full subscription for the year in question (ie there will be no pro rata reduction). New members joining between 1 January and 31 March will pay a full year's subscription at the rate in effect at the date of joining, but will be deemed to have paid up until the end of the following membership year (ie they will benefit from an effective free membership period from date of joining until 31 March).
  2. Existing members who fail to renew their membership by the 1 April renewal date will be deemed to have resigned their membership.
  3. When riding on Club rides, members must: abide by applicable road traffic law; be courteous to other road users; and keep the safety of other riders in mind.
  4. Members should make every effort to wear Club clothing on Club rides.
  5. Members on Club rides should endeavour to stay together and not leave anyone behind.
  6. Every adult member is expected to assist with Club events at least once in each year.
  7. Horsham Cycling encourages junior members (under 16s), but junior members may only participate in Club activities of any sort if accompanied and supervised by a parent or other responsible adult.
  8. For any ride to be deemed to be a Club ride, it must be led by a ride leader from the Club's list of approved ride leaders.
  9. Bad weather and/or road conditions:
    (i) In the event that the weather is forecast to be at or below zero at any time over night and due to remain below +2 deg C at 08:00 then club road rides for that day will be cancelled. In addition, when other adverse road conditions are likely, any two from the Club Rides Secretary, Club Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary may decide by 20.00 hrs the day before the ride that all regular Club road rides on the following day shall be cancelled. We shall be using the Meteorological Office forecast for the Horsham area (available at: for the purpose of this policy.
    ii) In the event that a decision to cancel club rides is made, it will be notified by a general E mail and on Facebook the evening before by a member of the committee. Informal Whatsapp notifications can also be used by groups where it is widely used as a means of communication. Such a general cancellation will not apply to off-road rides nor to rides taking place as part of a club excursion.
    (iii) In the event that a ride leader deems weather and/or road conditions not to be sufficiently safe for a Club ride to take place or continue, he or she shall cancel the ride (e.g. in event of a deterioration in conditions on the morning of the ride or during the ride itself).
    (iv) In the absence of the designated ride leader or any approved replacement nominated by him or her, members should ordinarily assume the ride has been cancelled. However, if there are no obvious adverse weather and/or road conditions, and no general cancellation under (i) above applies, another approved ride leader may run the ride. Designated ride leaders who are unable to attend their ride and who are not seeking to cancel the ride due to adverse conditions should endeavour to find a replacement ride leader before the ride is due to commence.
    (v) For the avoidance of doubt, ride leaders may not overturn a general decision to cancel rides made under (i) above.
  10. It is the duty of each member taking part in a Club ride to ensure that his or her bicycle is in good mechanical condition and that he or she is adequately equipped to deal with punctures.

  11. Members are strongly advised to wear approved cycle helmets at all times when cycling.
  12. The Club takes the welfare of its younger members seriously, so if any member has cause for concern over the welfare of a fellow member under the age of 18 they should report it to the Club Welfare Officer or a Club Official straightaway.
  13. If you are given personal data (eg name, address, phone no., email address, age) about other members or anyone else for the purposes of or connected with running a Club event or assisting the Club in any way, you must protect that data by taking all reasonable measures to keep it secure. As soon as you no longer need that personal data for the reason for which it was supplied to you, you must delete or destroy it. You may only use the personal data for the purposes for which it was given to you. You must report any loss of such data or other breaches of security (eg loss of a device on which it is stored) to the Club Secretary within 24 hours of the loss or breach being discovered.

Rider Safety & Insurance

The Club encourages members to ride safely but incidents can occur and it is recommended that all members carry some form of emergency contact details with them on club rides. Ideas you might like to consider include:-

  • Place ICE (“in case of emergency”) numbers in your mobile phone so that they can be easily found, although your phone will need to be unlocked if access is required by others.
  • Write the contact details on a card or something similar and carry it in your pocket or saddlebag.
  • Wear one of the bracelets that are readily available. We have found a source of one of these at a reasonable cost that may be of interest to you all. They are known as “Vital ID Adult Medical Emergency ICE Wristband” and an internet search will soon find you a supplier. There are other brands in the market place should you prefer something else.

The Club strongly recommends that for your own safety you wear a cycling helmet on all rides.

The Club’s insurance covers the Club and those responsible for its activities, it does not extend to cover the liability of individual members for what they do on Club rides. This is brought this to all members’ attention on joining the Club and when you renew your annual subscription. The Club strongly recommends that all its members purchase this type of cover. It is available from a variety of insurance providers but is also part of the package with certain classes of membership offered by British Cycling and Cycling UK.

Youth Policy

Click here for details.

Ride Leaders

Our Club depends on volunteers to organise rides and maintain safety standards. Ride leaders and group coordinators should use the following guidance.

Role of Club Ride Leaders

Download printable PDF: [Role of Club Ride Leaders]

Before the Ride

All ride leaders should familiarise themselves with the Risk Analysis document available on the Club website.

Plan a route in accordance with the group parameters set out on the website.

Decide on the viability of a ride in accordance with Club rule 9 (available on website: ). If the Club has issued a general cancellation due to ice or another reason, the ride must not go ahead.

If unavailable for a particular ride arrange to swap with another leader, if possible notifying the Group Co-ordinator of the intended swap beforehand.

The number of riders per ride is to be at the ride leader’s discretion, but would not normally exceed 12. If the ride leader deems it appropriate, the group should be split in 2 if possible, with the second group led by another ride leader. Consider appointing a back marker if a second leader is not available.

At the start of the ride brief the group on the intended route and distance. If any guests are present make sure they are aware of the group parameters and are confident they have joined a suitable group. Take note of their name(s) and e-mail addresses (if practicable) in order to forward them the e-news report. Include them in the ride report.

Young Riders

If a young rider should wish to join the ride, ask their age. If they are under 18 we require written parent or legal guardian consent before they join a ride. Ask them to contact the Membership Secretary in the first instance. They would then be able to join us once consent has been obtained. Riders under 16 require parent or legal guardian consent and must also be accompanied by their nominated responsible adult for the duration of the ride.

During the Ride

Encourage safe riding in the group in accordance with the Club’s Group Riding guidance and set a positive example.

Ensure the group stays together and rides within the group speed and distance parameters, taking into account the make-up of the group.

Give clear directions well in advance of turns/stops. If you overshoot a turn do not brake or turn suddenly – wait for a convenient turning point, indicate, slow down gently and turn when it is safe to do so.

The leader should not spend the whole ride on the front – spend some time moving through the group to make sure everyone is comfortable with the pace and not in need of a stop.

Ensure no one is left behind unless they so request and it is safe to do so. If someone does ask to return home early, consider sending a support rider with them, especially if they are less experienced, do not know the area well or have a mechanical issue.

In the case of a young rider under 18 wishing to return early from the ride, the rider should be accompanied back by an adult even if they say they are happy to return alone.

Point out any inappropriate ride behaviour during the ride. New members unfamiliar with group riding may benefit from some gentle coaching.

After the Ride

Email a ride report to the address ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) by 8pm on the evening of the ride. The report should mention the number of riders, miles ridden, guests, average speed and any incidents, mechanical issues or punctures.

Advise the group co-ordinator of serious incidents, eg accidents causing injury, dangerous rider behaviour that has not been corrected during the ride, members of the group unaccounted for.

Data Protection

Any personal data relating to other members given to you by the Club in order for you to carry out your duties must be stored and used in accordance with the Club Rules (available on the website).

Role of Group Coordinator

Download printabe PDF: [Role of Group Coordinator]

Each speed group has a Group Coordinator, whose role is to select and develop ride leaders, manage the lead rota and propose group distance/speed parameters.

Coordinators should familiarise themselves with the Risk Analysis document.

All ride coordinators report to the Club Rides Secretary, to whom the ride leader rota should be submitted when requested (normally 4-monthly).

Should there be any proposed changes to the rota as the weeks progress, inform the Rides Secretary of any changes by submitting an amended copy of the rota.

Suggested changes to the group’s ride parameters, ie distance, average speed or finish time, should first be channelled through the Rides Secretary for their agreement before any changes can be made.

Before appointing a new Ride Leader, ensure that they are a suitable candidate and would fit in with the group. Inform both the Club Secretary and Membership Secretary of any new ride leader appointments.

Advise a new Leader that they should read through the Role of Ride Leader, Group Riding and Risk Analysis documents.

Fully brief a new leader on their responsibilities instructing them on their role as appropriate. Pass on any relevant information that may assist them.

Support a new leader on at least their first ride until they are confident to go it alone.

Ensure that leaders lead the rides within the parameters shown on the club ‘Rides’ page, except in circumstances when it has been agreed that there will be a longer ride.

The longer rides should be mentioned in e-news the week preceding the ride and also noted on the club calendar.

Manage overall group behaviour particularly in relation to safety, speed and distance.

Deal with any group discipline issues by supporting the ride leaders and involving the Club Rides Secretary if disciplinary action is deemed necessary so it can be dealt with it in accordance with the Club’s disciplinary procedure.

Advise the Club Rides Secretary of any group issues.

Any personal data relating to other members given to you by the Club in order for you to carry out your duties must be stored and used in accordance with the Club Rules (available on the website).