When riding in a group, our Chapter always rides in staggered formation. Historically we have done this quite well. We do a great job breaking the LANE into three TRACKS (left, middle & center) and staying in those TRACKS. Group riding in staggered formation shortens the length of our pack and allows a rider to maneuver laterally to a different TRACK to avoid potential road hazards without bumping into other riders. Remember, the entire width of the LANE belongs to you the motorcyclist. (See New York Vehicle & Traffic Law)
One concern that has come about recently is how to “fill the gap”. That is to say if a position in a staggered formation is missing a rider, how should we fill that empty space? First of all don’t worry, panic or get angry. It’s okay to temporarily ride out of formation. It’s my recommendation to leave that space empty until the next stop is reached, allowing us to regain proper formation. This eliminates both criss-crossing to a different TRACK and/or passing in the same LANE. Both can be risky maneuvers. Criss-crossing to a different TRACK can be dangerous if there is a lack of communication. Staying in the same TRACK but passing the rider diagonal to you is dangerous because:
- All riders have complete ownership and control over the entire LANE. Passing a rider in the same LANE violates that ownership.
- The rider being passed may become startled if they aren’t expecting to be passed.
- A road hazard may appear during the passing maneuver giving the riders fewer options to avoid it.
- It is NOT recommended by HOG (see publication) or the MSF (see publication).
- It is illegal