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Ride Leaders/Road Captain – Safety Officers

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 both the individual riders and the group rules. 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. Even large 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 PRW 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.

Formation Riding: Will be in a standard Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) stagger formation. The staggered riding formation allows a proper space cushion between motorcycles so that each rider has enough time and space to maneuver and to react to hazards. The leader rides in the left third of the lane, while the next rider stays at least one second behind in the right third of the lane; the rest of the group follows the same pattern. A single-file formation with a minimum 2-second following distance is preferred on a curvy road, under conditions of poor visibility or poor road surfaces, entering/leaving highways, or other situations where an increased space cushion or maneuvering room is needed.

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. The Ride Leader must make sure that 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, 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 other safety officers) of hazardous conditions approaching from the rear, such as vehicles trying to cut into the formation and trucks passing with potentially dangerous wind blasts. They 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 are initiated by Ride Leader to the Tail Gunner. The Tail Gunner will (when it is safe to do so) move into the requested lane.

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.

Hand Signals:
Each rider (and passenger) should duplicate all hand signals given by the rider in front of them, 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 turn slow /stop) hand signals.

Single up:
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.

Staggered Formation:
After singling up, when single file is no longer necessary, the Ride Leader will raise their left hand with thumb and pinky out, other fingers closed, rotating their wrist back and forth (indicating left, right, left, right). All other riders will repeat this and resume staggered formation.

Tighten Formation:
When the Ride Leader feels that the formation should be tighter (bikes closer together), they raises their 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.

Road Hazard:
This is the one signal that can be initiated by ANYONE. Anyone seeing a hazardous condition on the road surface (road kill, oil, gravel, significant pot hole, etc.) will point at it. All following riders will repeat this, and all riders will avoid the hazard.


Motorcycle Safety Foundations