For Group Riding
riding with just a small handful of friends, the rules of the ride
are very lax, and often unspoken. However, when riding with a pack
of 15 or more scooters, more formal organization has to be maintained.
While there are pages and pages of published material on group riding
"rules" here is a brief run-down of what you will need
to know prior to riding with us.
Motor scooters are potentially-dangerous motor vehicles, and the
group can in no way guarantee your safety and cannot be held legally-responsible
for any injuries or damages sustained on a group ride. You are responsible
for your own safety.
Leader and Tail
group rides have a Leader as well as a Tail. The task of the group
Leader is to maintain the integrity of the group. The leader will
explain the route before the ride begins, and will set the pace
of that ride. The Tail also maintains group control, and will assist
with the initial pull-out, blocking oncoming traffic so as not to
separate the group, and to ensure everyone made it into line. Both
roles have many jobs during the ride, but this is the most basic
formation of the group begins with the Leader (of course). Generally,
the lesser-experienced riders will be put directly behind the leader.
Other more experienced riders will be placed somewhere in the middle
as well, to aid in occasions where the pack might get split up,
or if some other issues arise that are not immediately visible by
the Leader or the Tail.
the first importance is to understand the staggered formation.
It's simple but it is very important. When not riding single-file,
the leader will be to the left side of the road (closest to the
yellow line), the next rider will maintain position on the right
side (closer to the shoulder), the third rider will stay to the
left, the fourth to the right, and so on. Each rider should be about
1-3 seconds in distance away from the rider in front of and behind
them, as well. This gives each rider a good buffer between the other
riders, and will help avoid collisions in the event of sudden stops,
or if the scooter in front of you has a sudden engine problem or
accident. Like I said, it's a simple rule, but it's very important
- so keep to your correct side!
riding, keep proper distance (as I said, distance will vary depending
upon speed and terrain), but when coming to a stop (such as at an
intersection) close ranks double-file, so that the group will be
more compact. Also, do not let TOO much space open up between yourself
and the next rider, or you run the risk of a car taking up that
space, splitting the group.
Signs and Stoplights
transit there will undoubtedly be stop signs and lights. It's unavoidable.
When approaching a stop sign group integrity must be maintained.
The leader will stop at the intersection and will wait until the
whole group is stopped and ready to proceed once there is a large
enough gap in traffic. Once the Leader begins the pack, do not stop
at the stop sign, continue on through it. Though it's correct to
come to a complete stop when riding by yourself, the whole pack
needs to act as a unit, otherwise too much distance will open up
between riders for cars to get into and separate the group.
are a different matter. Just like with regular riding, red means
red. If the light has been green for some time the leader will likely
slow down and prepare to stop, assuming that it will turn red before
the whole pack is through. When the Leader proceeds past the green
light the group should follow through safely and quickly (the slower
we go the more likely for the group to separate, but not TOO fast,
for obvious reasons). If the light starts turning, stop and wait
with everyone else behind you. The pack will signal forward to the
Leader (horn signalling), and the front end of the pack will either
slow down or pull off to the side to wait for the rest of the pack.
Signal: If there is an occurance that the Leader needs to know
about (pack split by a stoplight, engine trouble, an accident, etc)
sound your horn and hold it for a couple seconds (rather than a
quick toot, which could mean anything). The next people in line
ahead of you will also signal with their horns, up the line until
the leader is aware of the issue, and will act accordingly.
Signals: Yelling gets us nowhere, so hand signals are used to
communicate between riders. The leader will usually start the signal,
other riders will follow suit so the rider behind them knows the
plan. We keep these to a minimum so as to avoid confusion, so they
will be easy to remember (note, there are visual aids saved in
Yahoo Group "Files" section)...
Down": Left arm extended out, palm facing down, swing
arm downward (like petting a dog). This means the pack is to slow
its speed, probably due to road conditions or a sudden change
in traffic flow.
Up": Same as above, only the palm is facing upward and
the motion is also upward. If the pack is travelling too slowly
this too can be a problem (especially when frustrated and aggressive
drivers get stuck behind a pack of scooters going slower than
the car wants to go - these drivers often behave stupidly and
Left arm and index finger extended striaght up. Road conditions
may dictate everyone travel single-file behind the Leader for
a variety of reasons (twisty roads, bicyclists, a car pulled over
to the side, etc).
Same as above, only there are two fingers extended upward.
In Road": Deep potholes, roadkill, broken glass, gravel
or sand, and other debris can be very dangerous for two-wheeled
motorists. When encountering this, point your left index finger
down toward the hazzard in the road, or if it's on the right side,
point your right foot down toward it.
Turn Signal": Every ride is guilty of this once in awhile,
of failing to cancel the turn signal after a turn or merge has
been completed. This can be confusing to the other riders who
rely on your turn signals to know when legitimate turns are coming
up. To signal "Hey, cancel your turn signal" open-close-open-close
your hand with thumb and fingers extended.
Metal": When a rider puts his left arm into the air and
extends his index finger and pinky, it simply means that Kevin
is having a good time - you don't have to do anything other than
not the only ones out on the road, unfortunately we also must share
our roads with 4-wheeled vehicles. Just like when riding alone,
these other motorists are a constant hazzard that must be taken
into account. Thankfully, most drivers in Vermont tend to be very
couteous and accomodating (we're a pretty easy-going population),
but this isn't always the case. When encountering a pack of motor
scooters, motorists can become impatient (they view us like they
view garbage trucks and city busses: something slow and obnoxious
that is keeping them from getting where they need to be, at the
rate of speed they deem appropriate), so always keep an eye out
for them - they will never cease to amaze you with the depths of
"bad idea" they will sink to in order to get around you,
or force their way into the middle of the pack. So always be aware
drivers will make their intentions very well-known, and you'll know
immediately which car (like, oh I dunno - a performance-tuned Acura
full of teenage boys?) might be prone to acting suddenly and aggressively.
Don't change your riding (ie; slowing down, speeding up, or merging
toward the right) unless the Leader directs the pack to do so. Don't
let the car distract you, but at the same time, keep an eye on them.
if a car has placed itself into an opening between the pack of riders,
do not change your riding unless directed by the Leader to do so.
The Leader will direct the front half of the pack if it's neccessary
to pull off the road, and the riders behind the car should continue
onward and follow the planned route (unless signalled to pull off
the road). If we were riding faster motorcycles a complicated maneuver
of speeding up and passing the car might be the solution, but this
is not a luxury we can employ - so just be patient, chances are
the car will disappear before it becomes too much of a nuisance.
Rules to Ride By
you attend a group ride, if you are inexperienced be sure to tell
the pack Leader so they will know how to manage you. If the route
of travel, the speed or the length of the ride is beyond your abilities
it is your responsibility to inform the Leader, who will decide
to either change the route or perhaps even suggest you come to a
future ride. We will try our best to accomodate all riders as best
we can, but for your own safety and the safety of others Never
ride above your abilities!
the ride is to be an average of 40+mph, and your scooter is a 50cc
which can only go 30mph, you'll need to inform the Leader for the
same reasons listed above.
stunting, no speeding, no buzzing the other riders, or any other
activity that may be considered dangerous or illegal. This should
be common sense, but I'm mentioning it all the same.
to the pre-ride meeting with your gas tank full and your bladder
empty. there will be plenty of opportunities along to way to empty
one and fill the other, but at the beginning of the ride we need
to be ready to go.
you need to leave early, be sure to inform someone! Never just break
away and ride off without telling someone, or we might think we
have accidentally lost a rider and spend the next hour looking for
fix your attention on the bike in front of you, scan the roadway
for possible hazzards, just like when riding alone.
Article by Kevin Montanaro