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.
Group riding will follow Idaho State Law. Riding will be in a standard
staggered formation unless the leader 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 prefers, helping the "ride leader" discourage traffic
from cutting into the formation and keeping the group together.
In the unlikely event of an emergency condition, the "ride
leader" 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 leader" will lead the group to
a safe stopping place.
The position of new or riders inexperienced with group riding is very
important. New riders should be positioned towards the front of the
formation to follow those that are experienced in group riding and so that
other experienced riders can watch them from behind.
The "ride leader" 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
"rider leader". Coordinating with the "tail gunner",
if a radio is available, the "ride leader" 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 leader" to do so.
The "tail gunner" serves as the eyes of the "ride
leader". He watches the formation, and informs the "ride
leader" of any potential problems within the group. He watches other
vehicles, and informs the "ride leader" (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
leader" the "tail gunner" will set the pace for the group.
At the "ride leader's" request, the "tail gunner"
changes lanes before the formation, to secure the lane so the formation
can move into it.
Each rider and passenger should duplicate all hand signals given by the
rider in front of him, 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 leader" (after having the "tail gunner"
secure the lane) raises his left arm straight up. Each rider repeats this
signal. Then, as the "ride leader" lowers his arm to point to
the lane into which he's moving, he 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 directional signal (which is repeated by each rider), the "ride
leader" raises his left hand to his shoulder and "pushes"
his open hand toward the lane into which he 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.
When conditions warrant single file (narrow road, anticipated wind-blast
from trucks, obstruction, pedestrians, etc.) the "ride leader"
will raise his left hand straight up, holding up just his index finger.
All other riders will repeat this, and the two columns will merge into
After singling up, when single file is no longer necessary, the "ride
leader" will raise his left hand with thumb and pinky out, other
fingers closed, rotating his wrist back and forth (indicating left, right,
left, right). All other riders will repeat this and resume staggered
When the "ride leader" feels that the formation should be
tighter (bikes closer together) (usually after being informed by the
"tail gunner", he raises his 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.
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.
All lane changing starts with a radio request from the "ride
leader" 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 leader" when the lane is clear. The "ride
leader" will make the call if no radio is available. At this point,
the "ride leader" 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
leader" will put on his directional signal as an indication that he
is about to order a lane change. As each rider sees the directional
signal, he also turns his on, so the riders following him get the signal.
The "ride leader" 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 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 leader" will put on his directional
signal as an indication that he is about to order a lane change. As each
rider sees the directional signal, he also turns his on, so the riders
following him get the signal. The "ride leader" then raises his
left arm straight up. Each rider repeats this signal. Then, as the
"ride leader" lowers his arm to point to the lane into which he's
moving, he 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.
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 leader
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 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 leader" finally moves into the
space ahead of the entire formation.
Hand signals are necessary to formation riding. They are used for
safety and they help to create a good club image. Below are listed the
standard hand signals as adopted by the Blue Knights International.
Stop - Left
hand extended downward and palm facing backward.
Right Turn - Left arm upright and
Left Turn - Left arm extended
straight out and hand extended.
A Turnaround Signal -
This is used for group riding as well as
signaling an individual rider approaching.
Single File Riding - Arm
extended over head with index finger pointed up means single file riding,
used for narrow, winding roads road obstructions and hazards.
Close Up Formation -
Left arm moved in an up and down Motion (pumping)
with fist closed. This action means tighten up or close riding formation,
catch up and stay close. The road Captain will use this signal to execute
a group maneuver.
Road Hazard - Pointing downward is
to warn fellow riders of pot holes and debris in the road.
Staggered Riding - Hand
straight up with four fingers extended waving side to side. Staggered
riding it used on open roads and where there are a lot of turns. This
style allows the rider some leeway for drifting.
V Signal - Two fingers indicate
dual riding style or two abreast where permitted.
Other Hand Signals :
to your gas tank means you have switched to your reserve. Blow horn to
the hand back and forth with arm extended to the side means come up to
me or pass me.