Riding season is upon us, for both PGR missions and pleasure. It is a good time to refresh ourselves on some safety information related to group rides. Ride Captains are not expected to read through this at every mission where we ride, but RC's and all Members should be familiar with and follow these safety procedures. Please take a few minutes to read through this, familiarize yourself with it, and Keep the Rubber Side Down. SAFE GROUP RIDING When riding as a group, we must do it in a way that promotes safety and doesn’t interfere with the flow of traffic. Prior to the start of any group ride, be it for leisure or as part of a mission, the RC shall do a safety briefing, and be aware of the following points: KEEP THE GROUP SMALL: A large group tends to interfere with traffic. It makes it necessary for cars to pass a long line of motorcycles at a time. Also, large groups tend to get separated easily by traffic or red lights. Those who are left behind often ride unsafely trying to catch up. If your group is larger than four or five riders, divide it into two or more smaller groups. Obviously if riding in a funeral or escort mission, this is not always applicable. Use good judgment and follow the direction of LEOs when present. KEEP THE GROUP TOGETHER: PLAN AHEAD: The leader should look ahead for changes. Give signals early so “the word” gets back in plenty of time. Start lane changes early enough to allow everyone to complete the change. Have an experienced tailgunner: Inexperienced riders should be placed further back in the group, but the tailgunner of each group should be an experienced rider, or RC if available, to watch the more inexperienced riders. Following the ride or mission, do a quick de-brief to discuss what was observed, provide pointers, feedback, etc. Even the leader and RC’s need to be open to comments and suggestions. FOLLOW THOSE BEHIND: Use your mirrors to keep an eye on the person behind. If a rider falls behind slow down a little, so the group will stay together. Try to maintain a steady and consistent pace, applicable for the riding conditions. Speeding up and slowing down constantly is hard on all riders and makes it too easy for the group to become separated. KNOW THE ROUTE: Make sure everybody knows the route. Then, if someone is separated for a moment, he or she won’t have to hurry to avoid getting lost or taking a wrong turn. STAGGERED FORMATION: Riding in a staggered formation is the best way to keep ranks close and yet maintain an adequate space cushion. The leader rides to the left side of the lane, while the second rider stays a little behind and rides to the right side of the lane. Let’s say that again, The Leader rides to the left side of the lane. There should be a one-second gap between the lead rider and the second rider. A third rider would take the left position, a normal two-second distance behind the first rider, one-second behind the second rider. The fourth rider would be a normal two-second distance behind the second rider. This formation keeps the group close and keeps each rider a safe distance from the others ahead, behind, and to the sides. A staggered formation can be used safely on an open highway. However, it is best to move into a single file formation when taking curves, making turns, or entering or leaving a highway. PASSING INFORMATION: Riders in a staggered formation should pass one at a time. First, the lead rider should pull out and pass when it is safe. After passing, the leader should return to the left position and continue riding at a passing speed until he has opened up room for the next rider. When the first rider has passed safely, the second rider should move up the left position and watch for a safe chance to pass. After passing, this rider should return to the right position and open up room for the next rider. NOTE: Some people suggest that the leader should move to the right side after passing a vehicle. This is not a good idea. It encourages the second rider to pass and cut back in before a large enough cushion of space has been opened up in front of the passed vehicle. It’s simpler and safer if each rider waits until there is enough room ahead of the passed vehicle to allow the rider to move into the same position held before the pass. CONDITIONS: All riders, but especially the leader and RC, need to be keenly aware of the traffic conditions. Try and do your homework ahead of time to know of possible construction zones along your route, and avoid them if possible. Milled roads and uneven lanes are much more unforgiving to motorcycles than they are to cages. SAFETY: Safety of our riders and others sharing the roads should always be the top priority. Less experienced riders should not be ‘pushed to keep up’ – but instead the RC should ensure the group is riding as a pace all riders are comfortable with. Announce your intentions at the briefing, “I will travel at the speed limits, +/- 5mph, when possible. Is everyone ok with that?” and encourage people to speak up. Ensure all riders are familiar with the appropriate hand signals, explained below. Feel free to make this an interactive ‘quiz’ during the briefing to engage the other riders. Make it clear that handheld devices, phones, cameras, etc., SHALL NOT be allowed to be used by the riders. Passengers may, at the rider’s discretion, but ensure they know not to be doing a lot of ‘squirming’ while taking pictures, using the phone, etc. Finally, as always, remember, when its car vs. motorcycle, the car always wins. Be aware. They want over, let them over. PGR HAND SIGNALS 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 leg at a 45 degree downward angle to signal 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. . 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. TIGHTEN UP Raise your left arm and repeatedly move up and down in a pulling motion. Open and Close your fist as part of the same motion. This indicates the leader wants the group to close ranks. 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. STAGGERED FORMATION Extend your left arm upward at a 45 degree angle with your index and pinkie finger extended. This indicate that it is safe to return to staggered formation. Trikes/three wheelers follow bikes in single file, followed by cages.