Riding with thousands of people can be exhilarating, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t communicate with others. Most crashes on RAGBRAI involve two or more bicycles and most are the result of riders not letting others know of their intentions. The RIGHT Communications are essential for safety, especially when starting, stopping, or passing.
When entering the roadway, verbally calling out “Bike On” is the best way to let people know that you are entering the roadway. Conversely, when leaving the roadway, you should call out “Bike Off.” Law enforcement will often stop riders to let traffic through intersections, so if you need to stop, let others around you know by saying “Stopping.” Occasionally, the route will become so congested that riders will slow their pace, and if you are going to slow to less than the speed of traffic around you, call out “Slowing.”
When making turns at intersections, say “Right Turn,” “Left Turn,” “Turning Right,” or “Turning Left.” The verbal cue is often accompanied by an arm pointing in the direction of turning. On the open road, everybody is turning at the same intersection, but in towns, it is a much different story. Always verbalize your direction of travel. It’s also essential to use hand signals in addition to calling out your turn to be more predictable to other riders.
To pass or be passed, you will hear “On Your Left” a few thousand times during the week. The overtaking rider is on the left of the rider being overtaken. Occasionally, you will pass on the right. In this case, call out “On Your Right” as you pass the rider on the right side. Suppose there are two riders traveling at the same speed, but far enough apart that you can go through the middle of the two riders. In that case, avoid surprising the riders by announcing “Passing Through The Middle.”
In conclusion, remember that you are not alone on RAGBRAI. You need to communicate with others for safety. Practice by riding with a bicycle club to learn how to ride with other people. Most clubs will spend time teaching new riders about the rules of the road. By following the RIGHT Communications, you will help make RAGBRAI safer and more enjoyable for everyone.