By Chris Genovese

It took us a while to get here, but we’re now heading into the heat of summer in Western New York, and every weekend is full of charity rides that our community will once again be supporting. So I’d like to just offer an observation about, what I believe to be, an important safety challenge that we should all be aware of when we’re involved in an escorted group ride. (The kinds of rides where designated outriders are used to block the intersections so that the entire group of riders can safely pass through them without stopping.) 

In these group riding scenarios, all of the riders are moving together along the designated route almost as if they are one (long) vehicle on the road (or a train, if you will). Likewise, when the group’s outriders or escorts are blocking traffic at intersections ahead of the group, they must wait for all riders to pass before they can rejoin the group behind the final rider.  The challenge that I’m referring to then happens when the group’s outriders must pass the entire group on the left, against oncoming traffic, to get back to the front and in position to block again at the next intersection.

Illustration depicting riders in a group moving to allow an outrider or police escort to safely pass them when there is also oncoming traffic

As this begins to happen, it’s critical to the safety of the outriders (and therefore all riders) that the group riders on the left side of the formation collapse toward the right into a single file. This allows the outriders to move into the left third of the group’s riding lane when there is oncoming traffic in their path (see illustration).

Of course, that means that those riders on the left side must have confidence that they’ll be able to quickly make that move to the right without running into another rider or causing them to suddenly veer to avoid a collision! 

And, of course, that also means that, as a group, we have to make sure that we’re maintaining the proper distance between each bike in the formation, which is generally accepted to be the distance traveled in one second. (Count to one Mississippi while riding to see how much distance that is.) 

And, of course, that also means that the escorts out front must set a safe and comfortable pace, and ALL riders must stay on pace and change speeds smoothly to avoid (as much as possible) the accordion affect, or bunching up of the bikes. 

And, of course, all of the riders on the left side of the group have to keep an eye on their rear view mirrors to see passing outriders, then signal with their left hand to the other riders, before they can move safely to the right. (I’ve seen either a waving motion for the outriders to let them know you are ready to be passed, or one finger extended upward to signal the bikes on the left side to shift over into single file.)

This also requires the escorts to have some level of control over the number of bikes that will be riding in the formation, again for the sake of safety, as they pass the entire group in the lane of oncoming traffic. 

It truly takes the awareness and attention of each and every participant in these escorted group rides to ensure that our escorts and each of the individual riders makes it home safely at the end of a fun group riding day! 

We at the Kantor Gullo Law Firm participate and support a TON of these charity rides. So that’s why we encourage every rider to “brush up” on their hand signals, maintain the proper distance between bikes, and be ready to make these types of maneuvers to make sure that safety and fun happens.  The goal is always the same when we ride – Stay safe and have fun out there! However, if you or a loved one or friend happens to go down, please call the Kantor Gullo Law Firm to retain the lawyers that ride and support the riding community!

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