motorcycles & safety

because it's not just your life

Tips to Help Your Group Ride Safely and Enjoy the Ride

1.) All participants are to arrive ON TIME and be ready to ride, including a FULL TANK OF GAS, potty stop, and a motorcycle maintained to avoid any problems.

2.) The ROAD CAPTAIN is responsible for speed, lane changes, gas, food stops, and potty breaks. The Road Captain should be aware of the group he or she is leading and schedule accordingly.

3.) THE MAXIMUM SPEED OF ANY EVENT WILL BE TO KEEP UP WITH THE FLOW OF TRAFFIC, OR AS POSTED BY LAW!

4.) Normal group formation for the Berkshire Hills Harley Owners Group will be staggered, as it allows for a greater safety cushion between riders at all times. Normal space between you and the rider in front of you will be between 2 to 3 seconds by count. At intersections, slowly come together side by side to conserve room, then when moving on spread back to staggered formation.

5.) Ride in staggered formation to allow plenty of maneuvering room for all riders. Always stay in line with the bike in front of you, and do not switch between the left and right side of the lane, no matter where the bike next to you may wander. If you are not experienced in riding with a group, please advise the Road Captain.

6.) On mountains, curves and narrow or bad roads ride in single-file formation when signaled by the Road Captain (index finger pointing upward) to allow plenty of maneuvering space until reaching a straight away, or until a staggered signal (two fingers) is given by the Road Captain.

Because It's Not Just Your Life That Is Involved

7.) No racing past or switching positions. Stay in your starting positions unless signaled to change. If someone leaves the group and a spot opens up in front of you do not change the lane you are in. If you are on the inside, stay on the inside. If you are on the outside, stay on the outside. When safe, single the rider behind you in the opposite lane to move up past you to fill in the gap. NO CLOWNING AROUND. Remember, there are newer riders, and we ride for fun, and don't want anyone to get hurt.

8.) Obey all signals of the ROAD CAPTAIN - he is your road boss. Always signal to the rider behind you by the use of hand signals from the person in front of you so that the information can be passed along. THIS IS IMPORTANT NOT ONLY FOR STOP AND TURN SIGNALS, BUT ESPECIALLY FOR ROAD HAZARDS THAT MUST BE AVOIDED. The first rider to spot a road hazard should identify it to those riding with you, and pass the signal along.

9.) Remember the "BUDDY SYSTEM" - If your riding partner has problems or needs to pull over, pull over with him, or signal the Road Captain so he can find a safe place to pull everyone over. In the event the problem cannot be resolved in fifteen minutes, the Road Captain or chapter officer will determine the next step. Also, if you decide to leave the group for any reason while the ride is in progress please be sure to notify the Road Captain or an assistant.

10.) Group riding requires safe habits. Safety and fun is the number one rule, and endangering other riders will NOT BE TOLERATED. Anyone doing so will have a MAJOR discussion with chapter officers at the earliest, safest opportunity.

11.) Keep a safe distance from the bike in front of you. KNOW THE STOPPING POWER OF YOUR MOTORCYCLE. Try to maintain a constant speed to avoid "rubber-banding."

think saftey - think life

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Planning the ride

It’s always a good idea to prepare a map of the route with all the stops indicated. If some bikes become separated from the group, they can “catch up” at the next stop.

• If you’re not out for a scenic ride, plan the most direct route to an event or activity. Interstate highways offer the following advantages:
- All traffic is moving in one direction.
- No cross-traffic or traffic lights to split up your group, if possible.

• When there are three lanes, it is wise to travel in the middle lane. This allows faster traffic to pass and will also allow vehicles to enter/exit the highway more easily.

• If you’re out for a scenic ride, be sure traffic conditions will allow it. For example, is there a county fair or car show in the area that day to complicate the ride?

• Plan stops to avoid gravel lots and left-hand turns. No one likes gravel, and in a group, it’s even less fun. Right-hand turns in and out of stops will help the group stay together.

• Plan gas stops at least every 90 miles, so folks with smaller tanks can fill up and stay with the group.

• If you have a large group stopping at a restaurant, call the restaurant far enough in advance to allow them to prepare for a large group.

• If you expect a particularly large group and it’s possible to get a police escort or traffic control at the start/end of a ride or along the route, great! Otherwise, it is a good idea to at least inform the police department of your plans and perhaps drop off a map. Never block traffic yourself; it may be against the law!

Harley-davidson ride planner  
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leading the ride

Choose and maintain a comfortable pace within the speed limit.

• Keep in mind that people at the end of the group may have to drive a little faster to keep up if there are gaps in the group.

• It also may cause a problem to drive too slowly. Drivers in vehicles behind the group may become impatient and try to get around the group.

• Know the route well enough so that you can give the group plenty of notice that you are approaching a turn.

• Always signal your intention to turn or change lanes. If you find yourself at an intersection too quickly for the entire group to make the turn safely, continue until you locate a place where the entire group can execute the turn safely.

more tips for leading
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participating in the ride

Drinking and driving never mix. This is especially true when participating in a group ride.

• Always ride in staggered formation; it gives you an extra margin for safety.

• Make sure your vehicle is in good operating condition. For example, a bad tire could cause an accident on a group ride

• Being too hot or too cold can also affect how alert you are as a driver. Be sure to pack appropriate protective clothing, such as a long-sleeve cotton shirt (for protection from the sun), helmet, eye protection, leather jacket, gloves, etc.

• A group of motorcycles is not considered a single vehicle. Be courteous and allow cars to enter and exit the highway and change lanes. Generally speaking, a car will not want to ride in the middle of a group of motorcycles and will get out of the group as quickly as possible.

• Familiarize yourself with the route and scheduled stops.

• Arrive to participate in a group ride with a full tank of gas.

msf guide to group riding
Join in on a group ride

Single File Riding

single file riding

All motorcycles ride in a single line, two seconds behind one another, in either the right or left third of the lane. The lead rider determines which side of the lane the group will ride.

Staggered Riding

Staggered riding

Click here for a PDF discription that you can print at home.

Safety Gear

Safety gear

Click here for the Ultimate Guide

Hand Signals

Hand Signals

CLICK HERE - because communication is necessary. 

Ride safe so you can ride again