Hand signals not only keep us safe, we tend to end up at the same place together as planned, with few or no incident. It’s good to learn a few things about hand signals.
The Ride Leader will be responsible for the group’s execution on the ride, and thus starts any signals. But like any game of “telephone,” it is up to the rest of the group to “pass the signal back” by mimicking the Leader. The Ride Leader will be watching to see if the rear scooters are making the signal, and if he gets no confirmation, may do the signal again until he/she is satisfied everyone knows what’s going on. Here are some common ones you’ll see:
Single file: Ride Leader holds up 1 finger on top of his helmet. “pass it on down – single file, folks!”
Double file (staggered): Ride Leader holds up 2 fingers on top of helmet.
Stop: LEFT hand down swiveled from upper arm, 90 degrees, palm to back, or point.
Turning right: LEFT hand UP swiveled from upper arm, 90 degrees, palm to front, or point.
Turning left: Left hand and arm straight out from body to the left. Palm to front, or point.
(Yes, we signal all turns and stops. Remember, scooters are LITTLE! Unless you got a big-ass scoot, many cars and fellow riders may not see your tiny-but-cute turn signals. Your hands do a much better job!)
Speed up! – LEFT hand, palm up, starts out low, moves upward. Likewise, then. . .
Slow down! – LEFT hand, palm down, starts out high, moves downward. Good for when someone sees the cop before everyone else does. . .
“Your turn signal is still on!” (handy for those of us who don’t have some clicking noise to go with our turn signals and simply forget to turn them off) – Left hand out, clenching and unclenching your fist. Sometimes this is done in the direction of the “offending” scooter. . . . but always check yours, so you don’t feel like a dumbass.
Hazard in road! - If you come across a pothole, or a tree branch, etc., which might be a problem for the folks behind you, take your foot and make a kicking motion towards the offending object. That can be to either the right side or left side. Sometimes people point with their hands, but that often confuses people that it may be a turn coming up. Just be aware.
The following are best done with small group rides (3 or fewer riders):
“You lead” – be careful with this. The scooter in front of you is asking you to take over being in front. It’s basically trading places. It will cause either a major shift of all the scoots behind you, or, if you and your lane partner are “communicating” fast enough, you also shift lane positions upon trading places. Neither are great options. This really should be reserved for very small groups of 3 or less. Signal is: LEFT hand, downward arm, making a sweeping motion forward.
Gotta take a comfort break! - Move up to the next scooter and make a grabbing motion towards your bladder. He/she will move up to the next scooter in line and do the same. The signal is carried forward to the Ride Leader, who will find a rest stop for everyone!
Need Gas! - Move up to next scoot and this time point to your gauges. This signal is good for ANY scooter malfunction/need, as it means we have to stop to get something cared for.
Need Food/Water – Move up to next scoot, make a fist with thumb pointed up, move thumb up to mouth like getting a drink.
Scooterists are very good at communicating with just their hands! This is just a little of what you can expect when riding with a group. And you’ll find it’s more fun than you can imagine!
Next entry: It’s all about traction: what it is, what it isn’t, how to use it.
Debbie Swanson, our Safety Officer, will provide safety tips and links from time to time. Debbie has been riding for over 10 years and was also an instructor for Master Drive for 12 years. She is a card carrying member of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation...so listen up and stay safe!