As we have a growing number of new riders to the group and with varying experience riding in a group setting I felt it was time to talk about group riding etiquette for our BC V Chapter rides. I have made some observations as well some of the other Members have also noticed a few opportunities for improvement in how our group handles itself on rides. In no particular order here are a few of the issues we have identiﬁed:
- Hand on the windshield. When the lead rider calls for the group to form up, all riders will either place their hand on their windshield or raise their hand to indicate that they are immediately prepared to start moving. This ensures that everyone is completely ready to proceed and the group can safely move out without someone trying to do up a helmet, get a glove on etc.
- We have to maintain a tighter formation during group rides. Comfort level is important but too many times huge openings occur because someone drops oﬀ from the formation. This makes it impossible for the lead rider to eﬀectively control the group when attempting a maneuver such as passing or making a lane change.
- Hand signals, the group needs to keep an eye on the lead rider as they will from time to time signal a maneuver ie single line or an advance warning to tighten up due to the fact they will be attempting a pass at the ﬁrst opportunity and the group needs to be ready in order to eﬃciently and safely complete the task. Also when you see a signal, pass it down the line for those who might not have eyes on the lead rider. This prevents others from being surprised by a maneuver.
- Learn what the hand signals are so you recognize them when you see them. There are very few we use but they are all critical.
- When riding in a group you must be hyper aware of what everyone in the group is doing (situational awareness). It is NOT the same as riding alone. It is ﬁne to enjoy the scenery, your passenger and your music, but you must also be aware of what everyone around you is doing so that you are able to react quickly in an emergency situation. Also when a maneuver is started you must know exactly what is required of you when it is your turn to make the maneuver and where everyone else is before you begin it.
- When a lane change maneuver is initiated by the lead rider, this is the procedure for everyone to follow. This is an example of a situation where we are going from 2 to 1 lane.
If the Lead rider has electronic communication with the Sweep rider, he will request the sweep rider to “claim the lane” the Sweep rider will move to the new lane when safe and will call back to the Lead rider “got the lane”. If there is no communication the Lead rider can just use electronic and hand signals to the Sweep rider to claim the lane. When the Lead rider sees the lane is blocked they will at that time the Lead rider will signal with both lights and hand signals to the group to initiate a lane change. This part is IMPORTANT… beginning with the rider directly behind the Lead rider, riders will move into their new positions. Note: do not move into your new position until the rider in front of you has safely moved over. This way you will always know where the riders in front and behind you are going to be. If we are merging to the left lane the riders on the right hand side or passive lane should stay on the left side of the ending lane to make sure we don’t open that entire lane to someone who wishes to pass us. This way we hold BOTH lanes until the merging lane disappears. The riders on the outside will ﬁnd themselves lined up perfectly with the outside edge of the single lane without having to move. The same maneuver is used when passing except all bikes one by one starting behind the lead bike move completely to their new positions in the new lanes.
- When passing it is critical you keep up the passing pace as the Lead rider will have initiated the maneuver based on having a certain amount of time to get the entire group through. If you slow down, you are putting yourself and even more so the riders behind you at great risk.
- If at any time you are uncomfortable with the speed or maneuvers being made feel free to signal and when safe to do so just drop back of the group. You will never be expected to ride beyond your comfort level. A conversation can be had at the next stop with the Lead rider and a solution can be arrived at that time.
- This is not meant to pick on anyone but rather to point out some of the things that people who have not ridden in a group before might not be aware of. I have never had any professional training and these are just rules I have learned from others that have. There may be a hundred diﬀerent ways to do all these things but we have found for this Club these have worked well. If you have any comments or concerns I welcome both. There is always room for improvement or even change, but we all have to be on the same page when we are on the road for the safety of the Club and the driving public as well.