Our Chapter's motto is to "Ride and Have Fun"; however, our goal is to do that as safely as possible. Panther Creek Chapter has a well known reputation for its approach to safely organizing and guiding rides for its members. This doesn't just happen; it takes the active participation of the Chapter's Road Captains, Officers, and other volunteers to constantly review and practice our methods that have been developed over many years.
Before each Chapter ride, we give a safety briefing to those participating. This page serves as a written version of that briefing--in addition to expanding upon a few of the items. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Head Road Captain and/or the Safety Officer for clarification. You can always ask one of the Road Captains before one of the rides.
Staging and Pods:
Typically we stage for our rides at Black Gold Harley-Davidson® @ 1007 State Highway 121, Allen, TX 75013.
Referencing the graphic above,
as a guide on where to stage your bike. The RED arrows identify the path you will use to line up in a side-by-side formation. The YELLOW arrows indicate the path we will take when exiting as a group. We will cover exit specifics during our safety briefings; so please make sure you arrive 30 min before the scheduled KSU (Kick Stand Up) time. It is very important to attend and listen to these briefings since some of our procedures are going to change to get everyone out of the new location in a safe manner.
We'll organize the bikes into Pods (groups) of 6-10 before begining the ride. Each Pod is assigned a Lead and Rear Road Captian. We do this to assist in the goal of keeping each Pod together as we navigate through traffic.
Members, Guests, and Release Forms:
Our rides are typically categorized as "Open Rides" or "Chapter Rides". Open rides are generally advertised publicly and will be organized in a way that all participants (Members and Non-Members) will register for the event and sign a release form. Examples of these rides are our Sweaty HOG, Frosty HOG, and most Dealer-Sponsored Rides.
Chapter Rides are primarily intended for Panther Creek Members, but we're always happy to have guests interested in our chapter join us. Examples of these rides are our weekly Dinner Rides on Friday nights, Monthly Lunch Rides, and special organized overnight rides to various locations. PCH Members (those who have an active National HOG membership and have an active PCH membership) are exempt from signing any additional release forms. Guests (including non-members riding with a member) are required to sign a release form before each ride. If you're a guest or have a guest joining you for one of the rides, please see a Road Captain upon arriving to fill out a short form. For your convenience, you can download and fill out this form prior to the event.
For safety and legal reasons, we follow all traffic laws during our rides. Two areas to note here are with traffic lights and stop signs. With both of these areas, the pod will collapse into a parade formation (side-by-side) and pull up to the stop. This allows the pod to take up a smaller amount of room and eases us through the upcoming intersection.
If during a ride one encounters a "YELLOW/RED" light, please stop--even if the Lead Road Captain (and potentially other bikes) have proceeded through the intersection prior to it changing.
Every pod is staged with both a Lead and Rear Road Captain. If a traffic light separates the pod, the Rear Road Captain will pull forward to become the Lead Road Captain until we catch up with the rest of the pod or arrive at the final destination.
Come to a stop in parade formation (side-by-side).
Each pair will stop at the Stop sign, taking their turn at proceeding once the intersection is clear.
The Lead Road Captain will slow down the pod--allowing everyone to get through the intersection.
Remember: When taking off from either a traffic light or stop sign, the bike on the left of each pair always proceeds slightly before the bike on the right!!!
Staggered Formation / Single File Formation:
Each traffic lane has three ‘virtual’ tracks – left, center, and right. The Lead Road Captain will always lead from the front LEFT track with the next bike, the #2 bike, in the RIGHT track – one second behind the Lead or #1 bike. The #3 bike will be in the LEFT track, one second behind the #2 bike, which places him directly (or two seconds) behind the #1 bike. The Center track is left open for emergency maneuvering. This formation does two things; it protects all the other bikes in the formation by becoming a single unit to other motorists; and by staggering the bikes, it provides room to maneuver around road hazards if necessary.
Single File Formation:
When appropriate, the Lead Road Captain will signal to place the pod in a single-file formation. This formation is simply each bike rides behind the bike in front of them--keeping a two second distance between the two. This formation can be used during various traffic situations and is also frequently used when navigating curvy country roads.
In this Chapter, we close gaps by moving up in the same track. DO NOT change tracks. If you start out a ride in the Left/Right track, you should finish the ride in the same track. It is best if the person that you will be passing motions you forward. That way you know that HE/SHE knows you are about to pass. The only exception to this policy is if a Road Captain instructs you to change tracks due to a special situation.
Panther Creek Chapter utilizes standard group-riding hand signals. While this is not an exhaustive list of signals, the following are the common ones we use during our rides:
Note: If you're comfortable removing your left hand from your handlebars, please pass these signals back through the pod.
We change lanes by ‘follow the leader’ – the Lead Road Captain. The Lead Road Captain will make every effort to have a gap in the lane large enough to move the entire pod. He will signal with both his turn signal and hand signal--this is typically a communication method to the Rear Road Captain to secure the designated lane, and for the rest of the pod to prepare to change lanes. It is not a directive for the rider to change lanes immediately at this point!
Once the lane has been secured and/or deemed safe to change lanes by the Lead Road Captain, he/she will move into that lane and each bike should follow (like a snake following it's head).
NOTE: It is ultimately the responsibility for each rider to verify the lane is clear and safe for himself/herself to change lanes.
Yielding to Cars:
While this seems obvious, do not perform any ‘heroics’ to keep the pod together. If cars appear at entrance ramps, exit ramps, or moves into a lane before the entire pod can make the transition, give them the right-of-way. Never speed up to get around a car in order to keep the pod together. Simply yield the right-of-way and drop in behind the car. Generally, the car will eventually move out of the pod as quickly as possible.
Remember: We YIELD to cars because? THEY HURT!
We ask everyone to turn off their passing lights (if so equipped) by using the appropriate switch (not by using the high-beams). This makes it easier for the Lead Road Captain to see the Rear Road Captain and confirm that the entire pod is all together.
Issues along the Route:
In the event of an issue (accident, breakdown, etc), DO NOT STOP. It is more dangerous to the downed biker; yourself as well, to have multiple bikes stopped on the road. It is the responsibility of the Rear Road Captain to stop and render aid. The Lead Road Captain should continue to a safe location (or the final destination in the case of a minor problem) and then return if necessary.
End of the Ride:
Generally, once we arrive at our destination, that is the end of the official ride. Each rider is responsible for their own route home. If a rider needs directions or recommendations on how to get home, he/she can ask a Road Captain for assistance.