Thursday, September 29, 2016

What do you think?

Had an interesting (and, surprisingly civil – no one called anyone an idiot for a starter) debate online this past few days. A rider posed the following question:
When you as a biker come up behind another biker, who is a stranger, do you go into the stagger formation or do you treat it like another vehicle on the road and ride directly behind?
There was a lot of talk about “respect” (whatever that means in this context) and whether it’s safe to assume the lead rider actually wants a riding buddy or would rather you just pass and carry on. But to me the debate boiled down to whether two riders (strangers or not) should ride in line, as you would if you were on 4 wheels following another car, or take a stagger formation with the lead rider in the left tire track of the lane and the following rider in the right tire track.

Most posters said always stagger and some referred to the following excerpt from the Ontario Motorcycle Riders Handbook as being the definitive authority on the matter. (One poster even suggested it was the law. It isn’t.)

Stagger

Back in the day when I was teaching advanced rider programs the thinking was that the following rider should also assume a left tire track position to help protect both riders’ space, because by doing so it forced any passing vehicles to make a complete lane change before passing. This would also apply to larger groups in a stagger formation. If the sweep, or tail gunner, would normally find him/herself in the right tire track position they should move to the left (and open up a bit more following space behind the rider immediately in front) to protect the lane.

The same principle would apply on a multi-lane freeway. In all but the left-most lanes the last rider should be in the left tire track, but in the left-most lane the last rider would move over and ride in the right tire track, thus blocking any in-lane passing attempts.

I know I have some readers who are active in motorcycle training and others who are Road Captain qualified. What do you think? What would you do?

9 comments:

  1. I certainly do not qualify as an MC coach or a road captain but I find myself in a staggering position when closing up to another rider, mostly until it's safe to overtake. If the motorcyclist is going at the same speed as I am, I fall back, and leave him/her - for lack of a better word - some privacy.

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    1. Sonja - I'll pass when safe to do so, but until then I'll hold a position in the left tire track. I never assume a rider wants someone on 'formation' with him/her.

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  2. Speaking as a sweep, in general, blocking is more important than stagger position. In the case above I would not move into stagger, and maintain at minimum a 3 second gap. If coming to a stop I stagger but stay 1 or 2 lengths back.

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    1. Edward - That's my view of it as well. Thanks for the comment.

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  3. Since I am usually riding sweep behind hubby I usually have the person come up behind me. I don't care either way which track they take, but in most instances I find they hang back giving lots of room or are on my tail passing when they can. Seems to be no in between.

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    1. Trobairitz - I guess the question is, when it's just you and hubby riding together, what position do you take? In line 3 seconds back? Or tucked in in a staggered formation?

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    2. It depends on the kind of riding we are doing. In the twisties it is single file (usually he is way far ahead of me through them) but on normal roads at a normal pace we stagger with him in front on the left and me on the right in back, usually so someone can't pass us on the right as they try on occasion.

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  4. I hate when a stranger pulls up to ride stager behind me, usually to close! Just last weekend I had one in heavy afternoon traffic do that, cutting off my escape route. He didn't know me or how I ride and refused to pass me when I waved him around. If I don't know you I don't want you in my space and if I do know you I still want my own space in the lane....all of it! I want/need the freedom to swap lane position based on what I am seeing the cages around me doing without worrying about clipping wheels with another bike.

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