Bunch Riding, Bunch Ride or Bunch Riders, according to BunchRideFinder, which has a vested interest in encouraging Bunch Riding, it is "cycling in a tight bunch in order to ride further and/or faster than individual riders or riding in a non-organised group."
Reasons to Bunch Ride also include:
(a) Aerodynamic benefit of being “blocked from the wind” referred to as ‘drafting’ or ‘slipstreaming’
(b) Opportunity to cycle at a steady pace with like-minded people
(c) Increased visibility of a large group
(d) Challenging sensation of pushing oneself to the limit amongst respected peers
(e) Acquiring the discipline, concentration and focus of riding quickly in an organized bunch
(f) Build social networks whilst riding or at a café at the end of the ride
Some bike shops have attracted more and more “newcomers” to their Bunch Rides, a good thing so long as these “rookies” understand each party’s duty of care and the risks of harm. Seemingly some of the larger bike shops that provide regular Bunch Rides are targeting customers who will trade-off obtaining the lowest purchase price for image/aura/profile (i.e. opportunity to wear a cycle jersey worn by lots of “serious” cyclists). Perhaps these shops believe that the administrative cost of organising regular Bunch Rides with large numbers of riders, all wearing the bike shop’s jersey, represents valuable marketing dollars.
Greater participation in bunch rides as a result of promotion by website BunchRideFinder, may evidence more riders cycling with others whose skill level is not well known and who may not always provide risk warning signals “down the line”.
Is Bunch Riding materially more dangerous? Website “aboc cycle coaching, Vic” reported, “At aboc, we have long held the belief that the Hell Ride was an accident waiting to happen, and our worst fears were confirmed.” No Bunch Ride organiser would want a coronial enquiry to deduce that its weekly Bunch Ride was “an accident waiting to happen”. The below referenced aboc cycle coaching website recommends a maximum of 15 riders in any Bunch Ride and provides reasons to support that recommendation:
"The main problem with large bunch rides on open roads is that within the bunch there is enormous pressure to stay in the bunch and to prevent it splitting, as once a bunch reaches a certain size, it no longer waits for riders dropped by having to stop for lights or other traffic obstructions. As such, it is increasingly difficult to be involved in some of the larger fast bunch rides around Melbourne without being involved in breaches of our road laws, and unacceptable levels of risk to both the riders involved in the ride and the general populace. Additionally, and from a pure training benefit position, often bunch rides deteriorate into races, or are too fast or too slow to be of benefit to riders working on specific aspects of their cycling".
So what makes a Bunch Ride OK?
"We believe that bunches are useful and safe when they're below a certain size (10-15 riders seems a reasonable number), and most (all) riders in the bunch know each other and are aware of the goals of each rider during the ride. There are benefits with bunch riding, the social aspect makes long rides more fun, the sharing of the work into the wind, the development of good bunch riding skills that are essential for racing and endurance rides, and the sheer pleasure of riding with your friends. Once a bunch gets beyond a manageable size, we recommend that our riders drop out of the bunch and continue their ride on their own or in a smaller group. We never want to experience someone we work with being involved in a collision, especially one brought about by participation in rides with histories of regular, systematic breaches of our road laws."
Would a bunch be easier for a motorist to pass if it was no longer than a semi-trailer? And separated from another bunch by at least 100m unless overtaking.
Is there a need to cap the length of a bunch? A semi-trailer can be as long as 8 motor cars, say 25m and travelling around the prevailing speed limit. However, a 60 strong bunch, 30 bicycles deep, can be almost 90m long and when travelling less than 20km p/h up a hill on a busy road, may frustrate motorists.
Cycling fast in a large juggernaut sometimes less than 60cm apart up to 50km/p/h might constitute “riding in a dangerous, careless or reckless manner”, particularly if traffic lights are along the route and a serious accident occurs involving a pedestrian.