Rules for Group Riding*

 

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 don't get in each other's way, and the organization of the formation itself discourages cars from attempting to cut in.The following rules are compiled from a number of sources and are considered standard rules-of thumb. Most clubs that ride in orderly formations follow similar rules.

Formation

Group riding will follow Idaho State Law. Riding will be in a standard staggered formation unless the "Ride Captain" calls for single file. In staggered formation, the bikes form two columns, with the leader riding in the left side of the lane. The second rider will fall into the right side of the lane approximately 1 second behind the leader. The third rider will take the position 2 seconds directly behind the leader, which puts them 1 second behind the rider in front of them in the right side of the lane. The rest will follow as such. This formation keeps the group close and permits each rider a safe distance from the others ahead, behind, and to the sides. It also discourages traffic from breaking into the formation. A close group takes up less space on the road, is easier to see and is less likely to be separated. The last rider in the group, or "tail gunner", brings up the rear and may ride on whichever side of the lane he/she prefers, helping the "Ride Captain" discourage traffic from cutting into the formation and keeping the group together.

Emergencies

In the unlikely event of an emergency condition, the "Ride Captain" 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 Captain" will lead the group to a safe stopping place.

New Riders

The position of new or riders inexperienced with group riding is very important. New riders should be positioned towards the back of the formation and follow those that are experienced in group riding and so the Tail Gunner can watch them.

Ride Captain

The "Ride Captain" is responsible for the safety of the entire formation. He/She 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/She must make sure that he/she leaves enough time/space for the formation to get into the appropriate lanes before exits, etc. All directions come from the "Ride Captain". Coordinating with the "tail gunner", if a radio is available, the "Ride Captain" 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 Captain" to do so.

Tail Gunner

The "tail gunner" serves as the eyes of the "Ride Captain". He watches the formation, and informs the "Ride Captain" of any potential problems within the group. He watches other vehicles, and informs the "Ride Captain" (via radio) 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. Working with the "Ride Captain" the "tail gunner" will set the pace for the group. At the "Ride Captain's" request, the "tail gunner" changes lanes before the formation, to secure the lane so the formation can move into it.

Hand Signals

Each rider and passenger should duplicate all hand signals given by the rider in front of him/her, 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.
 

  • Simultaneous Lane Change

The "Ride Captain" (after having the "tail gunner" secure the lane) raises his/her left arm straight up. Each rider repeats this signal. Then, as the "Ride Captain" lowers his/her arm to point to the lane into which he/she's moving, he/she 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/her directional signal (which is repeated by each rider), the "Ride Captain" raises his/her left hand to his/her shoulder and "pushes" his/her open hand toward the lane into which he/she 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 them.
 

  • Single up

When conditions warrant single file (narrow road, anticipated wind-blast from trucks, obstruction, pedestrians, etc.) the "Ride Captain" will raise his/her left hand straight up, holding up just his/her 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 Captain" will raise his/her left hand with thumb and pinky out, other fingers closed, rotating his/her wrist back and forth (indicating left, right, left, right). All other riders will repeat this and resume staggered formation.
 

  • Tighten Formation

When the "Ride Captain" feels that the formation should be tighter (bikes closer together) (usually after being informed by the "tail gunner", he/she raises his/her 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 (roadkill, oil, gravel, significant pot hole, etc.) will point at it. All following riders will repeat this, and all riders will avoid the hazard.Lane Changes
All lane changing starts with a radio request from the "Ride Captain" 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 Captain" when the lane is clear. The "Ride Captain" will make the call if no radio is available. At this point, the "Ride Captain" 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 Captain" will put on his/her directional signal as an indication that he/she is about to order a lane change. As each rider sees the directional signal, he/she also turns his/her on, so the riders following him/her get the signal. The "Ride Captain" 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/her has started moving.
 

  • Simultaneous Lane Change

This can be used interchangeably with the Simple Lane Change. It requires a little more work, but it is well worth the effort. It's 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 Captain" will put on his/her directional signal as an indication that he/she is about to order a lane change. As each rider sees the directional signal, he/she also turns his/her on, so the riders following him/her get the signal. The "Ride Captain" then raises his/her left arm straight up. Each rider repeats this signal. Then, as the "Ride Captain" lowers his/her arm to point to the lane into which he/she's moving, he/she 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 Captain usually at the suggestion of the "tail gunner" if radio is available will call for the group to fill in the space from the rear. He signals this by raising his/her 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 bikes move in ahead of those, and so on until the "Ride Captain" finally moves into the space ahead of the entire formation.

*The following are generally excepted responsibilities and procedures for riding in groups. They are here for informational purposes and may or may not be a direct reflection of exact BVR group riding procedures (IE: the BVR doesn’t use radios for the Road Captain and Tail gunners to communicate and there for references to procedures dependant on the use of radios would not be applicable to a BVR ride.) Please direct questions regarding clarification of any procedure to a BVR Road Captain or Primary officer.

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