Safe Group Riding

ride350Organizing, leading, or participating in a group ride is an activity that a lot of riders would like to undertake. However, many riders are somewhat intimidated and reluctant to participate because they are not really sure how it is actually done. There is a good chance they have participated in a group ride and have become aware that there is a lot more going on than readily meets the eye. There is also the chance that they have been on some group rides that were conducted by riders that were long on enthusiasm but really didn’t know what they were doing. This resulted in an unfavorable experience and no desire to lead or even join another such an event.

This brief guide is intended to help you get started and hopefully clear up some of the mystery. It is by no means a definitive handbook on the subject. Nor, is it the only method to use to successfully conduct a group ride. It will get you started and hopefully avoid some of the unsafe “happenings” that you may have already experienced on previous group rides.


A group normally travels in a staggered formation within a given car lane with the lead Road Captain taking the position next to the center stripe. The next group member positions himself in the opposite side of the same car lane, one second behind the Leader. This same formation is followed to the last group member. This gives riders in the same column a two second safety zone. Each rider should maintain a minimum, but safe riding distance from the bike in front of him. Do not ride beside another rider. Allow room to swerve in case of emergency or road hazard. It may be necessary at times to form a single file line. The Road Captain will signal for this by raising his left arm and pointing his index finger straight up, this signal, as with all signals, should be passed back and acted upon.
Filling in the Gap
The entire width of the lane belongs to you. When a rider leaves the group you simply change your position in the lane. If you’re riding near the center stripe move to the right. If you’re riding the curb side move to the left. Always make a head check before initiating any maneuver. Your mirror, is no substitute for your own eyes and good judgment! Crossing over, rather than moving straight forward has been found to be the safest way to fill the gap by HOG and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. It is also illegal in all but 2 states to pass another vehicle, and or motorcycle, in the some lane. FYI the 2 states that motorcycles can pass one another in the same lane are Massachusetts and California. Gaps in the group not only make the bikes stretch out longer on the roadways, but invites motorists traveling at higher speeds to cut into the formation and run up on the bike in front of the straggler. When a large gap develops in the stagger, each group member is to work together to protect the other. The Road Captain will signal with the left arm, fist closed, pumping up and down to close up the gap. This signal, as with all signals, should be passed back and acted upon. Please do so for the safety of the entire group.
Hand Signals
Communication is an important tool in group riding. Learning and using hand signals is a must for over all group safety. If you have a passenger, ask them to pass the hand signals back.