Safety & Etiquette

The first priority on Petunia Mafia rides is safety.  A little communication, cooperation, and sometimes brief, small individual sacrifices will increase safety and enjoyment for all.

On the road, cyclists are considered a vehicle.  You must follow all traffic rules, including: stopping at lights and stop signs, following posted speed limits, obeying road closures, having lights on your bike, etc. Disregard to safety during club rides may result in disciplinary action or expulsion.


BIKE LANES: Ride to the right of the white line whenever possible.  Ride to the right of the white line whenever possible.  Ride to the right of the white line whenever possible (yes we said that 3x). Also, ride in bike lines and bike paths if available. If a motorist hits you in a bike lane, the driver is automatically negligent as a matter of law (Bicyclist).

2 ABREAST: When the shoulder is wide enough, ride two-by-two and stay as close as comfortable to the rider in front of you (i.e. in their draft).  We move more efficiently as a group, conserve energy as a group, and can ride ultimately faster in a group.  You’ll be amazed how much stronger you become when you learn to conserve energy and ride with the pace of the group!

Ride single file in dangerous areas, busy roads without wide shoulders, narrow roads, and where prudence otherwise mandates…communicate the need to ride single file by raising a finger above your head as the need arises.

PELOTON: The “leader” of the ride is not necessarily in charge of pulling the whole group. If you feel comfortable taking a turn on front, communicate that to the group, and position yourself towards the front of the pack. If you don’t, position yourself in the middle or towards the back. When on the front, keep a steady pace. Do not overlap tires; your front tire should be behind the rear tire in front of you. You can be slightly to the left or right. Do not stare at the wheel in front of you; keep a soft stare on the space at the front of their bike. Be mindful of the body language in front of you – if she sits up, that means her bike’s slowing down. Avoid rapid deceleration (even small changes) and quick changes in direction. In particular, don’t coast or soft peddle while on the front, especially down hill.  If you soft peddle on a downhill, the group “stacks up” behind you.  This doesn’t mean “hammer every time you are on the front,” just be smooth and steady. Watch those down hills!!

SMOOTH BIKE HANDLING: Work on even, steady stroke pedals and following a smooth straight line. Again, acceleration and braking should be subtle. Wheel-to-wheel riding works if everyone can follow a calm biker in front of them. Practice straight cycling on your own by riding on white lines.

DRINK AND PEE:  Proper hydration is encouraged (20oz per hour minimum).  For rides over two hours, a stop to refuel is wise.  However, this responsibility falls to each individual. Communicate your needs and try to work together. In the end however, you are responsible for you own health … you may end up riding on your own, but better to be smart, hydrated and alone than stupid, dehydrated, and with company (by the way…since we drink, we pee…try to be quick about it and be patient with your peeing teammates…but in general…pee at your own risk).

PACE LINE:  When it’s time to pull off, signal the rider behind you with your right elbow and move right.When riding 2-by-2, pull off to the right (both riders go right). DON’T decelerate or coast just prior to pulling right…in fact, as very small, slight acceleration just prior to pulling off helps make the transition smooth. The right-front rider drops back first, followed by the left front rider and they float back so there’s 3 abreast for a short time. Avoid a 4 abreast situation at all cost – even for the briefest moment. If you’re the last rider in the pace line, it’s appreciated to tell the floaters “last rider” so she can duck behind you without cutting anyone off.

COMMUNICATION: Everyone is responsible for communicating to teammates. Not everyone knows the route and riders in the back cannot always see what’s coming. Note while a rider can hear someone speaking from behind, it is very difficult to hear riders who are in front.  So when you speak to someone behind you, they may not be able to hear you (use hand signals). If you hear a verbal cue and you’re mid-pack, pass the word or signal on so others can hear it, i.e. “car back!”  If you are at the back,  communicate the presence or absence of cars when the group is turning left or coming to a stop at a crowed intersection. Communicate VERY LOUDLY and clearly.  The words “clear” and “car” can sound very similar.  This very simple act of communication and literally help avoid a potentially lethal situation.


  • Index finger held overhead: move to single-file (i.e for a narrow bridge)
  • Pointing to obstacles in road: there’s gravel, potholes, dangerous cracks to avoid
  • Sweeping hand behind back: move over, there’s an obstruction in the road ahead (physical or another rider)
  • Open hand behind back: slowing
  • Closed fist behind back: stopping



  • “Car back”
  • “Car up”
  • “Rider up”
  • “Rider back”
  • “Clear”
  • “Slowing”
  • “Stopping”


EARBUDS: This falls right between the “safety” and “etiquette” sections. In a group, wearing earbuds is dangerous because you many not hear verbal cues plus gives the stand-offish signal “I’m not into talking.” So converse with your riding partners instead of tuning them out. When riding solo, you’re most safe not wearing them at all, but you may wish to wear the right earbud only so you can hear traffic coming up on your left and have at least one clear ear.

GEAR: Make sure your brakes, pads, and overall gear is in good working order so as not to create an accident due to equipment. If you don’t know how to maintain your bike, take it to the service shop. Another reason: insurance defense experts will meticulously inspect your bike after a crash, looking for a way out (credit: Bicyclist). This category falls in safety AND etiquette: are you making your teammates wait on you because your chain, pads, derailleur, etc needs mid-ride adjustments or repair? Don’t be that gal.

AEROBARS:  Aerobars are only allowed in green and blue group rides but our preference is none at all. The cyclist may not position herself in aerobars during the ride: hands must be on handlebars.

EBIKES: Ebike riders should try to blend in with the speed, skill level, acceleration and deceleration of the group as if they are riding a traditional bicycle. Do not use pedal assist to compensate for lack of fitness or bike handling ability. Be predictable with acceleration and deceleration for group safety.

Notes from our safety talk from sponsors is found here


NO-DROP: Petunia Mafia rides are generally a “no-drop” ride to the halfway or turnaround point. Riders will wait for slower riders to catch up every so often at major turn points/intersections. If you need to leave the ride early, tell a few other riders at the start so that you’re not being waited for or worried about. After the halfway mark on a ride, slower riders may be dropped.

SELF SUFFICIENCY:  There may be times you need to return home early, take an alternate route, or otherwise end up riding on your own during a ride.  Carry your own tools, tubes, etc. and take the time to learn how to do general bike maintenance like changing a flat or fixing a dropped chain.  And carry your phone just in case!

PREPAREDNESS:  Rides will leave promptly at stated starting time.  Please have your things together and be able to manage your stuff on the ride (i.e. eat, drink, & take off wind jacket while riding) to avoid delaying the entire team.


  • Extra tube or 2
  • Food/energy
  • Water
  • Pump/CO2 cartridge
  • Cash
  • ID – this is a Colorado state law
  • Lights if there’s any chance you can get caught in darkness
  • Layers – could you possibly need a wind vest, rain jacket, arm/leg warmers, toe covers/booties, gloves. Colorado’s weather and elevation changes make for wide changes in temperature. 70 degrees in Boulder could mean 50 in Ward!


COURTESY: We wear intentionally bold kits and are recognizable in the cycling community, so represent Petunia Mafia and our sponsors with class. If others inside or outside of our group are riding unsafely, rudely, or seem unaware, it’s ok to tactfully tell them so, or approach a ride leader/board member about your concerns and she’ll handle the situation. Let’s strive to be the most kind, pleasant, friendly, law-abiding cyclists on the planet.

MOUNTAIN BIKE SPECIFIC: We really love Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance. Support them. Read here about specific MTB “be cool” trail etiquette.

EBIKES: It is solely the ebike rider’s responsibility to determine that ebikes are allowed on 100% of the posted route and if the ebike’s battery can last for the entire ride.

You read this whole page? You’re pretty awesome. Thanks.