Why cyclists ride two abreast, or side-by-side, is a question we receive often from non-cycling friends and neighbors. So let’s talk about what the law is, and why riders are riding next to each other instead of single file.
According to MassBike: Cyclists “may ride two abreast, but must facilitate passing traffic. This means riding single file when faster traffic wants to pass or staying in the right-most lane on a multi-lane road.”
Of course, like most things, it’s a little more complicated than the definition. As described by Peter of Wilborn of BikeLaw.com, cyclists ride side-by-side for a variety of reasons including:
- Increased visibility for drivers
- Facilitating passing – multiple riders, riding side-by-side, can be easier to pass than a long string of riders
- Taking over a lane when turning left
- Signaling to drivers that it is not safe to pass when approaching a blind turn.
When approaching cyclists riding two abreast, slow down and give them time to arrange themselves into a single file, recognizing there may be a reason they don’t do it immediately.
As with any situation involving drivers and riders, the key is to pay attention and practice patience. Together we can ride and drive safely.