How wrong she was. There is no "law" that prevents cyclists riding two abreast. The closest you can get to a "law" on the subject is the Highway Code which states that cyclists should "never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends". One of the reasons club cyclists ride two abreast in a group ("the bunch") is safety. A bunch of 12 cyclists riding together two abreast will present as comparable in size to a car or small van. A competent bunch of road cyclists could, depending on road and weather conditions, reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour on a flat road, a speed comparable to a motor vehicle. Riding two abreast means that a motor vehicle looking to overtake will require to move to the other side of the road and pass the cyclists in circumstances when it is safe (for the cyclist, the vehicle looking to overtake and any oncoming vehicles) to do so. Riding two abreast also means that the overtaking vehicle has half the distance to travel to pass the bunch than if all 12 riders were strung out in single file. Single file riding also encourages vehicles to overtake by "squeezing past" the cyclists often with oncoming vehicles on the other side of the road and often with serious, sometimes tragic, consequences. On a recent holiday in Spain I could not help but notice the road signs reminding drivers that they are required to pass cyclists on the road only when they can allow a distance of 1.5 metres between their vehicle and the cyclist.
Cyclists are allowed to use the roads. There is no legal obligation on cyclists to use cycle paths. As with all road users, however , the right to use the road brings with it responsibilities and obligations imposed by law;
- cyclists must not cycle on a pavement - Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 and Highways Act 1835
- cyclists must not carry a passenger unless the bike has been built or adapted to carry one - Road Traffic Act 1988
- cyclists must not hold on to a moving vehicle or trailer - Road Traffic Act 1988
- cyclists must not ride in a dangerous, careless or inconsiderate manner - Road Traffic Act 1988
- cyclists must not ride when under the influence of drink or drugs - Road Traffic Act 1988
- cyclists must obey all traffic signs and traffic lights and must not cross the stop line when the traffic lights are at red - Road Traffic Act 1988
- at night cyclists must have a white front and red rear light showing - Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations 1989
That's the law!