Motorcyclists need to know how to prepare for, ride safely in a group

| June 11, 2010 | 0 Comments

U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center
News Release

Part two of the series has riding tips

Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, prepare to embark on an quarterly, 80-mile organized motorcycle ride circling Oahu, known as Pacific Thunder. (Spc. Jesus J. Aranda | 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)Motorcycling is primarily a solo activity, but for many riding as a group — whether with friends on a Sunday morning or with an organized motorcycle rally — a group ride is the epitome of the motorcycling experience. 

Before revving a bike’s throttle, however, motorcycle riders need to be well-informed about many aspects of motorcycle equipment, safety and sharing the road, whether riding solo or in a group.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s has compiled tips to ensure a fun and safe group ride in its “Guide to Group Riding.”

Among tips, the guide states motorcyclists should arrive prepared and on time with a full gas tank. 

The group should hold a riders’ meeting to discuss things like the route, hand signals and rest and fuel stops, and during the meeting, a lead and sweep or tail rider should be assigned. 

Both positions should be experienced riders who are well-versed in group riding procedures. The leader should assess everyone’s riding skills and the group’s riding style. 

The group should be a manageable size, ideally five to seven riders. If necessary, the group should be broken into smaller sub-groups, each with a separate lead and sweep rider. 

At least one rider in each group should pack a cell phone, first-aid kit and full tool kit, so the group is prepared for any problem that it may encounter. 

Groups should ride in a formation, too. The staggered riding formation allows for a proper space cushion between motorcycles, so each rider has enough time and space to maneuver and react to hazards. 

In a staggered ride, 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 is preferred on a curvy road, under conditions of poor visibility, on poor road surfaces, entering or leaving highways or in other situations where an increased space cushion or maneuvering room is needed. 

Groups should avoid side-by-side formations as they reduce the space cushion. If a motorcyclist suddenly needed to swerve to avoid a hazard, there would not be room to do so without handlebars getting entangled. 

While riding in a group, everyone should periodically check on riders following behind by looking in the rear-view mirror. 

If a rider is falling behind, slow down, so he or she can catch up. If all the riders in the group use this technique, the group should be able to maintain a fairly steady speed without pressure to ride too fast to catch up. 

If a motorcycist is separated from the group, don’t panic. The group should have a pre-planned procedure and location in place to regroup. 

Don’t encourage riders to break the law or ride beyond their skills to catch up with the group. 

For mechanical or medical problems, pull over and use a cell phone to call for assistance as the situation warrants.

Following all these tips will help ensure each rider arrives at the selected destination, as well as back home, safe and sound.

Making good choices and following rules of the road will help prevent the tragic and fatal consequences experienced by riders in part one of this series.

(Editor’s Note: Part One was featured in the June 4, 2010, edition, page A-7. Click here to read Part One online.)

Category: Community, Safety

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