DOB LONDON – Group Ride Policy

Dykes on Bikes® London Chapter Group Ride Policy

 

1. Introduction

Whether you have been riding motorcycles for decades or days, a Group Ride demands special skills and disciplines. To travel safely for any distance, each rider must temporarily relinquish some of those cherished personal liberties and assume some measure of responsibility for both self and group. To behave otherwise is to invite great risk and excessive danger. Riding with “the group” is a choice and is never mandatory. At all times though ride your own ride whilst keeping good speed, distance and communication.

2. Ride Officials

On every DOBLUK official ride there will be the following roles:

2.1 Ride Leader (RL).

The RL plans the route and controls the run to assure the safe and pleasurable passage of everyone. The RL stays in the front position and controls the pace and tone of the ride. The RL will plan rest and petrol stops, but YOU should arrive with a full tank and an empty bladder. YOU are responsible for your own warmth, dryness and personal comfort and are expected to have your machine in a state of good repair and readiness.

2.2 Sweeper.

The Sweeper remains at the rear of the group. The Sweeper assures that no one gets stranded on the road and tries to maintain the “wholeness” of the group. The group is in effect sandwiched between the RL and Sweeper. The Sweeper will signal blockers to re-join the ride and provides a consistent “last person”. Should you decide to leave the group, communicate this to the Sweeper with a signal with an OK sign and goodbye wave.

2.3 Blockers

Blockers assist in getting the group through intersections and roundabouts safely, quickly, and efficiently. While technically illegal, blocking also eases the effect of the passage on traffic in general. It also helps to avert any rider or riders from making a risky choice rather than a chance of being separated from the rest. While blocking it is wise to remain in gear and ready to move should another vehicle ignore the request to wait. A “stop” hand signal is suggested and a “thank you” signal by Blockers and Sweeper as well is a nice touch and usually appreciated.

3. The Ride

3.1 The Pre-Ride Briefing

Before each ride, the Ride Leader gets all riders together to go over the route, how long we will ride for, where we will stop, go over hand signals, the pace of the ride and give the opportunity to ask any other questions you may have. The Ride Leader will also make sure all riders have their ICE (In Case of Emergency) details with them on their body (medical ID tag, card in pocket etc…) – these are necessary in case of incidents or if the group gets broken up

3.2 Riding Order

The Ride Leader will ride in front and the Sweeper will ride in the back. The Ride Leader is responsible for setting the pace, keeping their eye out for anything ahead that could interrupt the ride (whether it be a traffic jam, bad weather, etc…) and navigating. They should be well skilled in issuing hand signals, as they will be the eyes for the rest of the group. The Ride Leader and Sweeper should both be experienced riders. The rest of the group should line up by experience. Any novice riders should stay behind the Ride Leader with the seasoned riders behind them. We do not want to have all our experienced riders in the front where they might accidentally cruise off and leave the novice riders behind.

3.3 Group size

In most cases, it is advisable to ride in several smaller groups, with their own riders-in-front. Those groups will meet when eating, drinking or getting petrol. An ideal number for a group is 5 to 7 riders.

3.4 Positioning

Perfecting our formation can be the trickiest part of group riding, but staying in proper formation gives each other enough space to react to any sudden hazards and helps any other drivers on the road avoid you.

Lane positioning is crucial in a group ride. The normal and proper formation is two-wide but in a staggered position. The staggered spacing provides an envelope of “space” for each rider to manoeuvre within. You are spaced properly if you can see the face of the forward rider in their mirror. If you can see them, they can see you. You will be neither too close nor too far apart. Of course, this will stretch out to allow for poor road conditions. Moving forward and backwards within your position constantly is annoying to everyone around you and will create an accordion effect in the group, which is inefficient or even dangerous.

Riders are encouraged to avoid changing sides frequently once the group has settled into place on the ride.

4. During the Ride

4.1 Signalling

SIGNS are the best and often only available means of communication amid a group of motorcycles in motion. Being observant of them in actual use will readily show the distinctions and confirm their value. Familiarise yourself with these as the Ride Leader will use them during a ride and you will have to relay them to those who ride behind you in the group.

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Check who is behind you

By far the most important thing to remember when riding in a group is to check your mirrors to see whether the riders behind you are still there.

4.2 Overtaking

Overtaking is not the norm within the group: it can be perceived as judgemental and may create risks. However, if you feel you may be holding up swifter riders – particularly on twisty country roads– then do consider inviting them past. Of course you may overtake other traffic– but always ensure you do not simply follow other riders through overtakes.

4.3 Filtering

In built-up areas and on multi-lane roads, Riders should aim to compact the group when safe and suitable by filtering up at traffic lights, riding in staggered formation and safely overtaking traffic to group up.  For example – if, as you slowly approach red lights, several of your group are a car or two behind you, can you unobtrusively create and ‘reserve’ a gap, allowing those riders to filter up?

 

4.4 Marking Junctions

Not all junctions need to be marked. The default direction is straight ahead – so the Leader will not mark every four-exit grid-road roundabout for example, nor most mini-roundabouts. Complex junctions such as six-exit roundabouts do need to be marked though. On rides where we do not follow the Drop-Off system we will often use a Blocker to mark a junction.

4.5 Separation

Of course, we want the group to stick together for the entire group ride, but sometimes that is not always possible. Someone could lag behind due to a red light, a car not letting them pass or just not being able to keep up with the pace. When the Ride Leader notices that a part of the group was separated they stop at a safe spot to wait for the rest of the group. If it is not possible to do this safely, they will stop at the first rest/petrol stop that has been agreed in the pre-ride briefing.

To be extra safe, always check three or four people behind you.  If you know that everybody will behave like this, you do not need to worry that you might lose the others.

4.6 Ride back

When the Ride Leader has stopped because people disappeared from their mirror, and they have waited so long that they know something has happened, they should decide to ride back, to check what has happened. If there is trouble, everybody should be informed.

4.7 The Drop Off System

The Drop Off system is typically used for when we ride with a larger group of riders, or on our longer rides. It tends to produce a faster-moving, more spread-out group. It allows a group of riders to follow the same route without having to remain in constant view of each other. Thus, each rider can ride their own ride, enhancing safety.

The Drop Off group consists of a Leader, the Riders and a Sweeper. The system is so-named because the Leader will ‘Drop Off’ riders to mark turns. The rest of the group pass by that rider, who later re- joins the group just ahead of the Sweeper.

Before the ride begins, the Leader will brief the group, and will make sure all riders have their ICE (In Case of Emergency) details on their body (medical ID tag etc…) – these are necessary in case of incidents or if the group gets broken up. They will also point out who the Sweeper is, and which bike they are on. Take note of this, e.g. the Sweepers’ bike’s make, style or colour; or their kit and helmet colour. You will find it useful to know the total number of Riders in the group and, as you set off, to take note of the bike/rider directly in front of you: this is helpful for smoothly re-entering the group after having been Dropped Off.

During rides, it is not uncommon for Riders to find themselves out of sight of the rest of the group. This is fine – you do not have to keep the rider ahead in view, nor the rider behind: you can ride your own ride. The only time you need to see another group Rider is when you arrive at a junction where the group has turned. One of the group Riders will be positioned to indicate such turnings. As you approach, they will remain in place – you simply pass by (or follow their directions), and continue.

Not all junctions need to be marked. The default direction is straight ahead – so the Leader will not mark every four-exit grid-road roundabout for example, nor most mini-roundabouts. Complex junctions such as six-exit roundabouts do need to be marked though.

In built-up areas and on multi-lane roads, Riders should aim to compact the group when safe and suitable by filtering up at traffic lights, riding in staggered formation and safely overtaking traffic to group up. For example – if, as you slowly approach red lights, several of your group are a car or two behind you, can you unobtrusively create and ‘reserve’ a gap, allowing those riders to filter up? Compacting the group in towns is particularly helpful when using Drop Off, because the Leader may need to mark several turns in quick succession.

Overtaking is not the norm within the group: it can be perceived as judgemental and may create risks. However, if you feel you may be holding up swifter riders – particularly on twisty country roads– then do consider inviting them past. Of course you may overtake other traffic– but always ensure you do not simply follow other riders through overtakes.

Junctions are Hazards. As you approach, use The System to consider all available Information (‘Ahead, Spread, Behind’) and form a Riding Plan to allow you to pass the rider safely and unobtrusively. Considerations may include:

  • Is the rider marking the junction actually from your group – or a different one (on 1st Sunday rides, several groups will be using the same or similar routes).
  • Dropped Off riders will aim to pull out in front of the Sweeper. If you are directly in front of the Sweeper, can you help create space and time to aid the rider in re-joining safely?
  •  If you see a case where a Rider should have been dropped off, or was asked to drop off but did not, can you do so instead? Where a rider has been dropped off, but has ended up in an unsafe position or a place of poor visibility, can you help?Use The System of Motorcycle Control (The System) and IPSGA to help you manage all this safely and courteously. See below for an explanation of The System and IPSGA.As riders are used as Drop Off markers and you and the rest of the group pass by them, you will gravitate toward the head of the group yourself. Once you are directly behind the Leader, you will be the next Drop Off. Use The System to plan ahead at upcoming junctions, assessing where the route is likely to go and where you may be dropped off. The Leader will point to an advised area to Drop Off – but it is your responsibility to assess this. You must stop in a location that is safe, legal and visible to the rest of the group and give a clear indication of the route to be followed. If, for example, you have dropped off before a small crossroads you might have your left indicator on to highlight this to other traffic – but if the route to take is to the right you will need to use clear hand signals to indicate this to the group. Be aware that at large complex junctions, such as very large roundabouts with a poor through-visibility, the Leader may drop off two riders – one at the entry and one at the exit.Having stopped to mark a turn, watch for the rest of the group arriving (and for any developing risks). If, say, there are 10 bikes in the group, you can expect 7 bikes to go by before the Sweeper arrives. Count the riders going past, and look for the bike which has been ahead of you during the ride: the Sweeper should be arriving next. The Sweeper will try to create space for you to pull out ahead of them: use The System to safely re-enter the group (if it is not safe to pull out, acknowledge the Sweeper as they pass you, and then pull out when safe: the Sweeper will slow down to allow you to catch up and overtake them).

Drop Off groups can get very strung out due to heavy traffic, overtaking opportunities etc. Dropped Off riders can often be waiting for the rest of the group for several minutes. Do not panic and do not leave!

Drop Off Summary

  • Provide ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact details to the Ride Leader. If you are new to the Group, or to Group riding, let them know and they can help settle you in (they may advise you to position towards the rear of the group for example).
  • Note who the Leader and Sweeper are, the number of riders in the group and the Rider ahead.
  • As junctions come into view, look for a Dropped Off rider marking turns (simple, unambiguous junctions might not be marked: in which case, go straight ahead).
  • Use The System to form a Riding Plan to take the route indicated by the Dropped Off rider whilst navigating the junction safely and courteously.
  • As riders ahead of you are dropped off, you will approach the front of the group. When you are directly behind the Leader you will be next to be used as a Drop Off marker: be ready.
  • The Leader will use you as a Drop Off marker by pointing to a suggested waiting position as they approache, passes through or exits a junction. This position is advisory: you, the Rider, must consider if it is a safe, legal and suitable position. It is important though, that you are clearly visible for the rest of the group to see at normal riding pace.
  • Once Dropped Off, give a clear indication of the route to follow to arriving riders.
  • Count riders as they arrive and look for the rider who had been ahead of you, so as to be ready when the Sweeper arrives. Re-join in front of the Sweeper when the rest of the group have passed by.
  • Don’t panic if no one arrives for a few minutes and don’t leave! Weight of traffic, town riding, country roads and rider variations can lead to gaps of several minutes.
  • Overtaking is not the norm within the group. But do consider waving faster riders past if you feel you are holding up a group of more rapid riders on open roads.
  • You do not need to keep other riders in sight: ride your own ride. However, take safe opportunities to keep the group compact in built up areas and on multi-carriageway roads.The System of Motorcycle Control explainedThe concept of the System of Motorcycle Control is derived from the Introduction to Advanced Motorcycling. Behind everything that advanced riders do is a simple idea; it’s called The System of Motorcycle Control and leads to the quiet efficiency of riding style which is the hallmark of the expert.Every rider should be asking themselves three questions:
  • What can be seen?
  • What can’t be seen?
  • What can reasonably be expected to happen next?

 

The System of Motorcycle Control helps you answer these questions, and more, and deal with the outcome. It assists the rider develop their riding plan; planning their future actions as early as possible so that they are always in the right place, at the right speed, at the right time whilst making safe progress.

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In the above diagram, you see the five phases of The System, commonly referred to by the acronym IPSGA.

Information

This phase encapsulates the other four as it must be applied continuously in order for the other phases to be effective. It is best described by dividing it into three sub-phases as follows:

  • Take: Observation is paramount to the advanced rider and doesn’t just entail looking where you’re going. The rider needs to take in as much information about their surroundings as possible and will be looking as far ahead as they can see, constantly scanning for changes in their environment. This would include use of the mirrors as well as shoulder and “life-saver” checks, giving the rider a full 360-degree safety bubble.

 

  • Use: From their observations, they are able to use the information gained to formulate a riding plan; adjusting their position, speed, gear and acceleration to maintain safe progress and deal with any hazards that may present themselves in a quiet and unflustered manner. Hazards, in this context, could be construed as anything that impinges on the safety of the rider or other road users.

 

  • Give: The advanced rider, having taken and used the information from their observations is now in a good position to provide other road users with information. This may be in the form of using their indicators to warn other traffic of an impending change in direction, brake lights to warn following traffic that they are slowing down or might even include the use of the horn to warn people that they are there. Their position on the road will also provide some idea of their intentions.

Position

The correct position of the bike on the road is important in maintaining rider safety, bike stability and a good view of the road ahead to get early warning of possible hazards. A rider should not adjust his road position to obtain a better view, only to maintain the one they already have, adjusting it as the view ahead changes. NEVER SACRIFICE SAFETY FOR POSITION.

Speed

Many riders equate “progress” with speed, but this is not necessarily the case. The correct speed is judged by many factors, including the prevailing legal limit for the class of road. The question the rider needs to be asking at this point in the System is whether this is a safe speed to negotiate a particular hazard bearing in mind that if the unexpected does happen that the rider can stop safely, on their side of the road, in the distance they can see to be clear.

Gear

This has nothing to do with what kit the rider is wearing. The correct gear for any given situation very much depends on the type of bike being ridden but is judged to be the gear that gives the greatest flexibility for the speed required, road and weather conditions. Too low a gear will result in over-revving the engine and rapid acceleration to clear a hazard situation may be curtailed by the machine’s rev limiter. Too high a gear may result in the engine stalling instead of accelerating and would not provide much in the way of engine braking. Being in the correct gear also shows that the rider has some sympathy for the machinery.

Acceleration

Some hazards or manoeuvres are best negotiated by slowing down rather than speeding up so it can be seen that acceleration, in this context, works in two directions. An overtaking manoeuvre would require acceleration to complete, whereas a bend in the road may require deceleration. Sensible use of acceleration allows the rider to achieve an appropriate speed for the prevailing conditions.

The “System” is intended to be flexible so if a planned manoeuvre cannot be completed at any stage then the rider can revert to a previous stage or even start all over again, bearing in mind that the Information phase should be a continuous function.

5. Bring Supplies

Finally, every rider in the group should be well supplied in case of an emergency. Make sure you bring your own mobile phone (make sure it is charged), some extra cash, water, snacks and your own set of tools for your bike. The Ride Leader will bring some extra tools like a flashlight, duct tape and a first aid kit, but do not let this stop you from bringing anything that you find essential on a ride!

Finally, Enjoy the Ride!

We RIDE with PRIDE and RESPECT

 

 

Dykes on Bikes® London – Group Ride Policy – June 2018