People cycling two abreast is a beneficial safety technique. Two abreast riding makes cyclists more visible to fellow road users. It facilitates communication between cyclists and increases organization. It doubles the scanning power of cyclists for hazards on the roadway by placing two riders (instead of one) in the front position with the clearest view. And it reduces the size of the group lengthwise by half, facilitating quicker passing. The two abreast group riding formation is compact and global best practice. Partners including parent and child want to ride side by side. It works to strengthen confidence by fostering teaching and learning, and facilitates the sharing of knowledge for faster development of public traffic skills. People cycling next to each other is an encouragement tool and increases cycling pleasure. Traveling with partners is recommended. Two abreast groups are natural. Social cycling is the way to go.
Always be aware of your surroundings and fellow road users when cycling. I call this interactive cycling. Most of the time two abreast groups are easier to pass because of the increased visibility and shorter length. If traffic is having trouble passing you and changing from two abreast to single file would facilitate safer and more timely passing, cyclists may decide to go single file so long as it doesn’t compromise the safety of the group. Going single file is easier to do if the group is smaller. If the road is not wide enough to share side by side with faster traffic in any formation and going single file would leave open or create the possibility of a “squeeze pass”–an unsafe pass without sufficient clearance–don’t compromise safety for passing convenience. It is the cyclist’s responsibility to decide where to ride in the road for safest positioning. Being predictable, visible and consistent is key. It takes patience and cooperation. With practice and by raising traffic awareness to shared use, we get better at it over time.
The Cascade Bicycling Club has more detailed tips on increasing safety, confidence and pleasure on group rides: http://www.cascade.org/ride-smart-paceline-tips
Cascade has 15,000 members! Can we do more in sunny New Mexico?