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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ride Safe if Group riding essentials

We all know risks involved in motorcycling. So, it’s crucial to understand that the nature of group riding increases some of those risks. As a leader or a member of a group that rides together, it’s essential to make sure all riders understand the rules of the road. But, if you're not familiar with group riding, or you haven't followed these practices before, it's essential for everyone's safety that you understand and follow these basic guidelines.

Group riding is an opportunity for like-minded riders to come together to have a great time on the road, enjoy the chumminess of group-riding, follow new routes, and explore new experiences -- BUT SAFELY.

-- Following distance - following distance is essential to the safety of the entire group. You need to be able to trust that the rider behind you can stop in time if you make an abrupt control change.

-- Do NOT use the spacing of the bikers ahead of you as a gauge for your spacing. Ride your own ride, and if you see others riding too close, encourage them to separate. You’ll all live longer!

-- In reeled formation, know your place in the order, and hold it throughout the ride.

-- When changing lanes, trailing riders may move to block traffic as needed. The rest of the group should follow IN ORDER from the head of the line to the tail. Do NOT change lanes erratically or in advance of the riders ahead of you. And, DO keep an eye out for traffic caught in the midst of the group. The lead bike won't always be able to change lanes for the whole group. Again, ride your own ride! Follow the bike immediately ahead when safe, but make sure you're not following blindly!

-- Group leaders may want to consider organizing different levels of rides, and clearly communicating the rules of the road for each. For example, routes along easy roads following posted speed limits, "intermediate" rides for intermediate to experienced riders (2 years / 2,000 miles minimum), and "advanced" rides for experienced riders (4 years / 10,000 miles minimum, with prior group-ride experience).

-- Respect your fellow riders, respect the road, and respect the drivers around you. We all appreciate the fantastic power of our bikes, and it's fun to exercise that power. But, it's also essential to ride with discipline. Your life and the lives of the riders around you depend on it! That means: no stunting (wheelies, stoppies, burnouts), no passing, no passing over the double-yellow, and maintaining speeds appropriate for the road and traffic conditions.

-- AGAIN Ride your own ride! It's your job to keep yourself safe, set a good example for others in the group, and keep them safe.

-- Look out for your fellow rider! If you see the bike behind you dropping back, slow down.

-- Learn the route before joining the ride. You'll be able to relax and ride at your own pace if you know where you're going. Don't rely on the ride leader or the group to ensure that you know where you're going. If you get separated, you should still be able to find your way along the route.

- Communicate! If you have a problem, need to depart from the route, or are somehow altering your participation, make sure you communicate that to the group leader.

- Most importantly: Always ride your own ride. Ride safe! Stay up!

Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) group riding guidance:
AMA group riding tips:
Group riding hand signals:
Venturous Bikers Team
Drive safe and always wear a helmet !