Berkshire Hills H.O.G. Group Riding & Safety

The following tips are being offered to allow riders of the techniques that help groups of motorcycles to stay together, ride safely, and enjoy the trip. Some of these tips may already be part of your every day riding habits, but some may be new to you and will certainly make any group ride more enjoyable.

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.


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.

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."

There are a number of factors that come into play when planning or participating in a group ride. Here are some suggestions for making your rides safe and successful.


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!


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 may 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.


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.


Ride with a partner. In the event someone needs to pull over for an unscheduled stop, the partner should also stop in case assistance is needed..

• It’s unsafe for a large group to stop on the side of the road. If someone needs to pull over, the remainder of the group should continue to the next stop. At that time, the group can decide to wait for the missing members or to send two riders back to assist.

• If the group has a standing policy to wait for a specified period of time, say half an hour, the members left behind will be aware that they can catch up.

• All riders should have a map of the route so they can reach their destination on their own if need be.


The lead motorcycle should be in the left 1/3 of lane, the second motorcycle should be in the right 1/3 of the lane, one second behind the first rider, and so on.
• Leave enough room between each motorcycle so that any rider can maneuver to the right or left without hitting anyone else.
• Always stay in line with the bike in front of you. Do not switch between the left and right side of the lane.


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 on which side of the lane the group will ride.

Hand signals should be simple, easy to learn and be kept to a bare minimum.
• Either the rider or passenger can relay the signal. As soon as you see a signal, you should give the same signal so the rider behind you can see it.
• These hand signals will not always be used by every group you ride with. The signals assembled here are offered as suggestions only.

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Chapter Policy and Guidelines on Alcohol

Safe and responsible motorcycling activity is a major H.O.G. goal. In this regard:

1.  The consumption and use of alcohol is a serious personal responsibility involving the safety and welfare of family, riding friends and the individual H.O.G. member.

2.  Alcohol consumption before or during motorcycling activity is not safe responsible behavior.

3.  Any incident occurring during a motorcycling activity as a result of the participant consuming alcohol results in no insurance coverage.

4.  National H.O.G. has no direct operational control over Chapter operations. Consumption of alcohol after a riding activity or at non-riding events is a matter to be decided by the sponsoring Dealership and H.O.G. Chapter leadership. All such decisions are subject to final review and approval by the sponsoring Dealership.

5.  If the sponsoring Dealer and Chapter decide that alcohol may be consumed at a Chapter activity, then the recommended approach is either to “Bring Your Own” or to “Buy Your Own” from a vendor licensed and insured to sell Alcohol.

Notice: Liquor liability coverage is not provided by the Chapter General Liability insurance Policy.

Notice: In our Chapter Policy is - If anyone in a group ride has a drink with alcohol, The Ride Is Over and Everyone Finds Their Own Way Home. On overnight rides, alcohol may be consumed only after parking the bikes for the night. Then reasonable consumption is suggested and preferred.