John Cowan of Cafe Cruisers (https://www.facebook.com/groups/cafecruisers/) suggests these guidelines:
• Drop back to single file and keep left on roads with traffic. Watch the leader: one finger held aloft means single file (or, possibly, extreme annoyance); two fingers means you can ride two abreast if it’s safe (or the leader is still annoyed).
• If you notice a car behind the group, signal its presence with two rings of your bell, klaxon or steam whistle. If you hear two rings, move left and pass the signal up the line. You could also call out “Car back!’ like real cyclists do. Give the driver a thumbs up or wave if he was kind and cautious enough to wait before overtaking.
• Call and signal “Slowing” (right arm out, palm down, moving up and down), and “Stopping” in a group.
• On paths it’s amazing how often we fail to see oncoming cyclists. Call out “Oncoming!” and make way for them.
• Call out hazards on the road, “Glass!”, “Hole!”, “Debris!”, “Yetis!” etc.
• An arm waved vigorously around the head indicates “Bee in helmet”.
• When overtaking another rider, call out, “On your right!” or “On your left”, or “A droite!” and “A gauche!” if you suspect they are French.
• When passing pedestrians tinkle your bell and say “Excuse me”, greet them, and thank them if they step aside. Calling out “On your right!” just seems to confuse them: they turn around, step into your path and stare at you to see what you mean.
• Dogs on leads, small children and headphone wearers are very unpredictable.
• Be very kind to café staff. We arrive in a big group and so we should expect delays and occasion confusion.
• If you are in a group riding on a path and have to stop or dismount, please signal and scoot to the left of the path as quick as you can to avoid a pile up.
• If someone comes a cropper, pass the news up the line to the leader. By the way, we do like to REALLY check you are okay before proceeding: some of you are far too brave and hate making a fuss, and would probably keep riding despite compound fractures, cardiac arrest and decapitation. Any blood? Let’s dress it to avoid infection. We carry First Aid.
• Try to keep the group together. If you are at the front, watch your pace and pause occasionally to allow others to catch up. If there are a lot of us with a wide range of speeds, we can spilt into multiple groups. Feel free to suggest it. Also, feel free to ride as slow as you like!
• Dropping out of the ride? Fine. Just let others know so we don’t come searching for you.
There’s lots more that we can learn to make our rides safer and more enjoyable. We can be a casual group, but not a careless one.