GROUP RIDING 101

If you're going to ride with a group, whether it's a formal club or just a few friends, you need to understand the rules, customs, and courtesies of team riding. Riding with an experienced group can offer a greater level of safety by increasing your visibility to other traffic and giving you "extra eyes" to watch your back, but the key word here is "experienced". Many groups hit the road like SOBs (Swarms Of Bees), cutting into fast-moving traffic and darting wildly from lane to lane. Unless your affairs are all in order, that's dumb.
Group Riding 101
modified from MikeB's dfwscooterist.com

If you're going to ride with a group, whether it's a formal club or just a few friends, you need to understand the rules, customs, and courtesies of team riding.
Riding with an experienced group can offer a greater level of safety by increasing your visibility to other traffic and giving you "extra eyes" to watch your back, but the key word here is "experienced". Many groups hit the road like SOBs (Swarms Of Bees), cutting into fast-moving traffic and darting wildly from lane to lane. Unless your affairs are all in order, that's dumb.

GOOD RIDING PRACTICES


1. Be Prepared:

  • Arrive at the group rendezvous with a full tank. On longer rides, gas up when everyone else does so you'll be on the same general gas-stop schedule.
  • It is not unusual to start out on a ride when it is fairly warm and have the temp cool down a lot before getting home. Riders often wear a light jacket because it felt fine at the time of departure and really be freezing after it got dark. This frequently happens on dinner rides.
  • Remember to take some clear eye protection if the ride will extend into the evening.

2. Help Your Leaders:

  • Listen carefully when the Ride Captain discusses routes, planned stops, etc.
  • If you'll need to stop for any reason before a planned stop, tell the Ride Captain and Tailgunner up front and find out when/where you can meet up with the group again.
  • Don't suddenly split off from the group for personal reasons unless you've told the Ride Captain and Tailgunner up front.
  • Tell the Ride Captain if you have any special concerns, i.e. speed, sharp corners, etc.

3. Safe Riding:

  • Where should you ride within the group? In many groups, new riders (those not experienced in group riding) are initially placed at the back with the Tailgunner to make sure they arrive at the end destination. This allows the new rider to practice and develop his/her skills without holding up the rest of the group. Once new riders are able to keep up, corner smoothly, etc., they'll be able to ride in various other positions.
  • Don't clown around by zigzagging in your lane, tailgating the rider in front of you, moving in and out of the formation, etc. You'll endanger yourself and others.
  • Avoid public displays of temper (like screaming obscenities or flipping off people in cars) if you expect to be invited back.
  • Pass back all hand signals, (See graphics below), initiated by the Ride Captain, and be prepared to initiate a "single file" signal yourself if your travel lane becomes unsafe or uncomfortable (bad road surface, crumbling shoulder, narrow lanes, etc). Traditionally this has been a judgment call left to Ride Captains, but in our club each individual member has the authority to make that call.

RIDING STAGGERED

Staggered Formation: The bikes form two columns, with the Ride Captain at the head of the left column. The second bike will head the right column, and will ride approximately 1 second behind the leader at a diagonal (in the opposite side of the lane). The other riders will position their bikes NO CLOSER THAN 2 seconds behind the bike directly in front of them, or 1 second behind the diagonal bike. This formation gives each rider sufficient space, and discourages other vehicles from cutting in. The last rider, or Tail Gunner, may ride on whichever side of the lane he prefers.

Gap in Formation: If a void is created by a rider leaving the formation, all riders in that column should move forward to close the gap rather than switching sides of the lane. For example, a void in the left side of the lane should be filled by all the left-side riders moving forward while the right-side riders maintain their positions.

RIDING STAGGERED

Staggered Formation: The bikes form two columns, with the Ride Captain at the head of the left column. The second bike will head the right column, and will ride approximately 1 second behind the leader at a diagonal (in the opposite side of the lane). The other riders will position their bikes NO CLOSER THAN 2 seconds behind the bike directly in front of them, or 1 second behind the diagonal bike. This formation gives each rider sufficient space, and discourages other vehicles from cutting in. The last rider, or Tail Gunner, may ride on whichever side of the lane he prefers.

Gap in Formation: If a void is created by a rider leaving the formation, all riders in that column should move forward to close the gap rather than switching sides of the lane. For example, a void in the left side of the lane should be filled by all the left-side riders moving forward while the right-side riders maintain their positions.

safe scooter group riding
STOPPING AS A GROUP AT AN INTERSECTION

When stopping as a group at an intersection, break stagger formation and pull up beside the bike in the adjacent lane. This will reduce the length of the group by half. Stay in this formation until you are through the intersection. Because the group is half as long it will take half the time to clear the intersection and increase the odds of keeping the group intact.

If you don't make it through the intersection with the group, don't worry. Don't take a chance and run a red light. The leader will know that you are not with the group and will slow down, or wait for you down the road.

safe scooter group riding

HAND SIGNALS

Special thanks for graphics and safety tips on this page from: Ann Arbor Hog Chapter

START ENGINES: With your right or left arm extended, move your index finger in a circular motion.

LEFT TURN: Raise your left arm horizontal with your elbow fully extended.

RIGHT TURN: Raise your left arm horizontal with your elbow bent 90 degrees vertically.

HAZARD LEFT: Extend your left arm at a 45 degree angle and point towards the hazard.

HAZARD RIGHT: A Extend your right arm at a 45 degree angle and point towards the hazard.

HAZARD RIGHT B: Extend your left arm upward at a 45 degree angle with your elbow bent to 90 degrees and point towards the hazard over your helmet. You may also point with right foot, just don't kick the roadkill!

SPEED UP: Raise your left arm up and down with your index finger extended upward. This indicates the leader wants to speed up.

SLOW DOWN: Extend your left arm at a 45 degree angle and move your hand up and down.

STOP: Extend your left arm at a 45 degree angle with the palm of your hand facing rearward.

SINGLE FILE: Position your left hand over your helmet with your fingers extended upward. This indicates the leader wants the group in a single file formation. Usually this is done for safety reasons. Signal may also be hand raised with index extended.

STAGGERED or SIDE-BY-SIDE FORMATION: Extend your left arm upward at a 45 degree angle with your index and pinkie finger extended. This indicates that it is safe to return to staggered formation.

TIGHTEN UP: Raise your left arm and repeatedly move up and down in a pulling motion. This indicates the leader wants the group to close ranks.