Rules for Group Riding Safety
The purpose of riding in an organized group instead of an undisciplined pack is to provide the additional safety that a well-organized
group inherently generates. This comes from within the group and from the outside. When a group rides in an orderly fashion,
people dont get in each others way, and the organization of the formation
itself discourages cars from attempting to cut in. I have even seen trucks move to the far side of their lane to minimize
wind blast when they see a well-ordered formation
"single up" and move as far away from the truck as their lane allows. Once riding rules have been adopted by a club, EVERYONE
riding with the club is expected to follow them. Anyone violating the rules, and compromising everyone else's
safety, will be warned, and if their actions continue, will no longer be welcome to ride with the club. The following rules
are compiled from a number of sources. Most clubs that ride in orderly formations follow similar rules. Details may vary from
one club to another, sometimes because of the style of riding they do, or sometimes because there are a number of reasonable
options, so they chose the one they prefer.
NO ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION WHILE RIDING !!!
Formation Riding will be in a standard State Patrol(staggered) formation. In staggered formation, the bikes form two columns,
with the leader at the head of the left
column, so he will be able to view all bikes in the formation in his/her rearview mirrors, and be able to see around vehicles
the group approaches. The second bike will head the right column, and will ride approximately 1 second behind the leader (and
in the opposite side of the lane). The other riders will position their bikes 2 seconds behind
the bike directly in front of them, which puts them
1 second behind the diagonal bike. This formation allows each rider sufficient safety space, and discourages other vehicles
from cutting into the line. The last rider, or Tail Gunner, may ride on whichever side of the lane he prefers. He will have
to change sides during the ride, based on the situation at the moment.
Ride Leader The Ride Leader must be aware of the length of the columns, and must gauge the passing of merges, highway entrances
and exits, etc., to allow for maximum safety and keeping the group together. He must make sure that he leaves enough time/space
for the formation to get into the appropriate lanes before exits, etc. All directions come from the Ride Leader. The Ride
Leader makes all decisions regarding lane changes, stopping for breaks and fuel, closing of gaps, turning off at exits, any
concerns of what lies ahead, accepting/rejecting radioed messages from other individuals, and so on. No individual will assert
himself independently without direction from the Ride Leader to do so.
Tail Gunner The Tail Gunner serves as the eyes of the Ride Leader. He watches the formation, and informs the Ride Leader
of any potential problems within the group. He watches other vehicles, and informs the Ride Leader (and anyone else with radios)
of hazardous conditions approaching from the rear, such as vehicles trying to cut into the formation and trucks passing with
potentially dangerous wind blasts. He will watch for merging lanes, and will move into a merging lane (or stay in a merging
lane just vacated by the group) in order to "close the door" on other vehicles that may otherwise find themselves trying to
merge into the formation. At the Ride Leaders request, the Tail Gunner changes lanes before the formation, to secure the lane
so the formation can move into it.
New Riders The position of new (inexperienced with GROUP riding) riders within the group is significant. New riders should
be positioned as close to the front as possible.
Lane Changes All lane changing starts with a radio request from the Ride Leader to the Tail Gunner. The Tail Gunner will
(when it is safe to do so) move into the requested lane and will inform the Ride Leader when the lane is clear. At this point,
the Ride Leader has three options:
Simple Lane Change. This is an ordinary lane change, and can be used in most situations. After the Tail Gunner has secured
the new lane, the Ride Leader will put on his directional signal as an indication that he is about to order a lane change.
As each rider sees the directional signal, he also turns his on, so the riders following him get the signal. The leader then
initiates the change. All other riders change lanes too. The important concept is that NO ONE moves until the bike in front
of him has started moving.
Block Lane Change. This can be used interchangeably with the Simple LaneChange. It requires a little more work, but it
is well worth the effort. Its quite impressive to watch, and gives the riders a tremendous feeling of "togetherness". This
sounds a little complicated, but is actually very simple to do. After the Tail Gunner has secured the new lane, the Ride Leader
will put on his directional signal as an indication that he is about to order a lane change. As each rider sees the directional
signal, he also turns his on, so the riders following him get the signal. The leader then raises his left arm straight up.
Each rider repeats this signal. Then, as the leader lowers his arm to point to the lane into which hes moving, he actually
initiates the change. All other riders lower their arms at the same time and change lanes too. This allows the entire formation
to move from one lane to another as a single block.
Rear Fill-in. This is sometimes necessary if a long enough gap cannot be maintained in the new lane, for example when trying
to move from the right lane to the center and vehicles from the left lane keep cutting into the opening. After the Tail Gunner
has secured the new lane, the leader (usually at the suggestion of the Tail Gunner) will call for the group to fill in the
space from the rear. He signals this by raising his hand to shoulder height and "pushing" it towards the new lane. All riders
repeat the signal, and the last bikes move into the space in the new lane ahead of the Tail Gunner, then the next-to-last
move in ahead of those, and so on until the Ride Leader finally moves into the space ahead of the entire formation.
In the unlikely event of an emergency condition, the Ride Leader will make every attempt to move the formation to the shoulder
in an orderly manner. If a bike breaks down, let the rider move to the right. DO NOT STOP. The Tail Gunner will stop with
the problem bike. The Ride Leader will lead the group to a safe stopping place.
Each rider (and passenger) should duplicate all hand signals given by the rider in front of him, so that the signals get
passed all the way to the back of the formation. The following signals are used in addition to the standard (right turn, left
Block Lane Change
The leader (after having the Tail Gunner secure the lane) raises his left arm straight up. Each rider repeats this signal.
Then, as the leader lowers his arm to point to the lane into which hes moving, he actually initiates the change. All other
riders lower their arms at the same time and change lanes too.
Fill in from rear
After having the Tail Gunner secure the lane and putting on his directional signal (which is repeated by each rider), the
Ride Leader raises his left hand to his shoulder and "pushes" his open hand toward the lane into which he wants to move. This
signal is repeated by all riders, and each rider in turn, rearmost first, moves into the space ahead of the riders behind
When conditions warrant single file (narrow road, anticipated wind-blast from trucks, obstruction, pedestrians, etc.) the
Ride Leader will raise his left hand straight up, holding up just his index finger. All other riders will repeat this, and
the two columns will merge into one.
After singling up, when single file is no longer necessary, the Ride Leader will raise his left hand with thumb and pinky
out, other fingers closed, rotating his wrist back and forth (indicating left, right, left, right). All other riders will
repeat this and resume staggered formation.
When the Ride Leader feels that the formation should be tighter (bikes closer together) (usually after being informed by
the Tail Gunner), he raises his left hand with fingers spread wide and repeatedly closes them into a fist. All other riders
repeat this and close up all unnecessary space in the formation.
This is the one signal that can be initiated by ANYONE. Anyone seeing a hazardous condition on the road surface (roadkill,
oil, gravel, significant pot hole, etc.) will point at it. All following riders will repeat this, and all riders will avoid