Bike MS Safety Brochure
At Bike MS events, our active route
support team works to make the ride safe.
Here are a few additional suggestions to
help keep everyone safe on the ride:
Group cycling has its own form of
communication. The presence of road
hazards, directions, and need-to-know
information is relayed through the pack of
riders by gestures and words. Remember
to pass all communication on to the next
cyclist behind you in the group. Speak
loudly and clearly.
• Thumbs down for help: SAG
vehicles and motorcycle escorts will
stop for you if you are off the road,
off your bike, and giving a “thumbs
down” sign or holding your helmet
in the air.
• Ride marshal support: A special
team of cyclists called Ride Marshals
provide support on the rides. They
offer minor mechanical help along
the route and monitor cycling safety
and etiquette.
• Rest stop etiquette: All cyclists who
enter a rest area must pull over,
dismount and move completely
away from the road and rest-stop
entrance. When exiting, move
beyond the rest area and proceed
with caution on the right side of
the road before merging with faster
Passing: Passing others and being
passed occurs continuously during
the ride. Call out “passing on your
left” and allow time for the cyclist
being overtaken to move to the right
— then pass safely.
Mechanical problems: Move off of
the road to examine mechanical
issues. Flag down a SAG vehicle if
you need transportation to the next
rest stop.
• Be courteous: Bike MS cyclists are
privileged to ride on many trails as
well as public roads. Be courteous
and use no more than half the trail so
as not to block the flow of other users.
• “On your left”: This means a rider
is approaching your left side. Allow
room to pass.
• “Car back”: This means a car is
approaching from the rear. All riders
make an effort to move to the right
of the road in a single file until the
car passes. In most states, the law
requires cyclists to ride no more
than two abreast. This ensures that
traffic will not be impeded, and will
make passing easier and safer for
the cyclists.
• Gravel, pothole, sand, tracks:
Each of these messages is to alert
the riders behind you of hazardous
road conditions. The words are
combined with the gesture of
pointing to the hazard well in
• Flat: This indicates that a rider has
suffered a flat tire. Allow enough
room for the rider to slow down
and move to the right side of
the road or trail for repair. Offer
assistance if needed.
• Slowing: The cyclist in front of you
is slowing down. Use caution and
prepare to stop. Many cyclists use
the palm of their hand toward riders
behind them to indicate slowing
and stopping.
• Stopping: This indicates that a rider
ahead is stopping. Do not forget to
unclip from your pedals.
Your family has joined the movement,
and together, you are cycling to create a
world free of MS! The National MS Society
wants you to cycle safely. It is important
to understand that there are risks
associated with cycling and road rides.
It is critical that parents, guardians and
their children understand these risks and
are comfortable that a young cyclist has
both the skills and the judgment to ride
safely. This is especially important while
participating in group cycling activities
like Bike MS. Our focus is to provide a high
quality, safe and fun bicycling experience.
• All cyclists must be 12 years of age
• Minors (under 18 years old) MUST
be accompanied by a parent,
guardian or responsible adult over
21 years of age at all times — on and
off the route.
• All cyclists, including minors, need
to possess basic bike handling
skills and safety knowledge to keep
themselves and others around
them safe.
• Parents must review the rules of the
road with their children in advance
of the ride to make sure they
understand and can follow them.
• Each cyclist must carry
identification, emergency contact
information and insurance cards
while riding and participating in a
Bike MS event.
• Headphones, cell phones, radios,
and similar radio devices are not
permitted while riding
• The route is not closed to traffic, so
cyclists need to exercise caution at all
times and obey all rules of the road.
• There will be many cyclists on the
course, so young cyclists should
fully understand rider etiquette and
how to ride in large groups.
• This is a fun ride and not a race. All
cyclists should ride at a comfortable
pace and take full advantage of
route support whenever needed.
• Alcohol may be served and
identification will be checked.
Please remind young riders that
they must be ‘of age’ (21 or older) to
consume alcohol during the event.
• In partnership with the League of
American Bicyclists, the Society
has developed materials and
coursework that provide good, basic
information about bicycle safety and
riding in a group such as “Bicycling
Safety Tips for Adults” video from
League of American Bicyclists
located on YouTube, review this
entire brochure, participate in a
Group Riding Skills class, and review
the Group Riding Student Manual.
You can also ask your local Society
office for more information.
Cyclists need to possess basic bikehandling skills and safety knowledge
in order to keep themselves and others
around them safe, especially while
participating in group cycling activities,
like the Bike MS Events. Our focus is
to provide a high quality, safe and fun
bicycling experience. For this reason,
the National MS Society has partnered
with the League of American Bicyclists to
provide our cyclists with the knowledge
and resources to cycle safety.
Please remember to always carry:
• Identification
• Emergency contact information
• Insurance card
• Any important health information
All cyclists are responsible for keeping
their riding equipment in good working
order, so get into the habit of checking
your equipment before every ride. Small
adjustments can make a significant
difference in your experience. The “ABC
Quick Check” is an overall, yet brief
bicycle safety check.
• Check your wheels for worn tires,
loose spokes, warped rims and tires
for proper inflation.
• Check your handlebar for looseness
at the headset and stem.
• Check brakes for function, cable
tightness, worn pads, frayed cables,
and alignment of the pads with the
Check your pedals and cranks
for tightness.
• Check for chain looseness and bad
links; clean regularly. Lubricate with
bicycle chain lube.
• Check the derailleur for worn cogs
and adjustment. Check that your
gears change smoothly.
• Check to ensure that the wheels are
clamped securely in the drop-outs
before each ride.
• Check your helmet for cracks and
make sure it fits properly.
• Check your shoes for tight cleats and
straps and buckles in good repair.
• Make sure your bicycle saddle is the
right height and the bolt is tight.
Group riding takes practice. Riding with
other cyclists all around you may cause
you to feel trapped. Relax. It is most
important to create your own safety zone.
This may vary depending on the speed
and ability level of the people you are
with, so be flexible. Let others know of
your anxiety — they may also be new
at this.
Your responsibility in a pack includes:
Be aware of others around you.
extreme fatigue, the inability to
recover your energy, or frequent
muscle cramps, seek assistance
from first aid — you may have the
early signs of dehydration.
• Communicate well in advance.
Use gestures in combination with
verbal commands.
• Ride with your head up. Look down
the road; not at the person in front
of you.
• Seeking medical assistance: If you
find that you experience weight
gain/bloating with progressive
symptoms such as swollen hands
and feet, confusion, throbbing
headache, dizziness or nausea,
please seek assistance from first aid.
Maintain control and speed of your
bike, even going downhill.
• Know your limits. Crashes can occur
when inexperienced riders do not
have bike-handling skills to make
quick decisions in a pack.
• Safety starts with you. Group
mentality is not always safe. Expect
to stop at all red lights and stop
signs — it is the law!
• Each cyclist is responsible for
verifying that the intersection
is clear.
• Adjust your safety zone to fit the
conditions of the road, weather and
traffic. Always plan an escape route.
• Never overlap your wheels with
another cyclist.
• Do not use aerobars in a pack.
• Be aware of how weather will affect
your bike. Riding in wet conditions
requires slower speeds and greater
breaking distances.
• Be respectful of other riders.
Help others when needed.
Knowing how to optimize your fluid intake
is critical to successfully completing an
Bike MS Ride
• One bottle per hour: The rule of
thumb is to drink one bottle per
hour and supplement with sports
drinks at least every third or fourth
hour. If you find that you experience
Head injuries are a special concern for
cyclists. Even falling at a slow rate of
speed can cause a serious head injury.
Helmets must be on your head and
strapped while riding in a Bike MS event —
no exceptions.
Many cyclists find that situations occur
when quick thinking and heightened bikehandling skills are required.
Suggestions for managing
potential obstacles:
Drivers do not know your skill level,
and will often not leave room when
they pass. Give them the room. In a
group, call out “car back” or “car up”
and move to the far right in a single
file. Be predictable.
• Beware of animals. Knowing how
to handle animals, specifically
dogs, on a bicycle varies depending
on the situation. You may want
to slow down, outsprint the dog,
or yell “stop”, “no” or “go home.”
Distracting a dog with a water bottle
should only be used when you are
not in a pack. Try to keep to one
side of the dog. Let others know of
your intentions.
• Pedestrians, joggers and animals
have the right-of-way. Signal to
the pack that someone is being
overtaken and move to allow room
for safe passing.
All states consider cyclists vehicle
operators, and give them the same rights
and duties as other drivers.
• Know and obey all traffic laws: The
golden rule of bicycling in a group is
Be Predictable!
• Stay right: Ride in the right portion
of the rightmost lane in the direction
you are traveling and leave at least
four feet between your handlebars
and parked cars or other hazards
such as other users. You may move
left when passing slower vehicles or
preparing for a left turn.
• Obey all traffic signs and signals:
Avoid “following the leader” through
traffic signs and signals; you are
required to obey all traffic signs and
signals, including stopping at red
lights and stop signs.
• Look and signal before you move:
Always scan behind you before
changing lanes or making turns. A
continuous arm signal is required
prior to a turn or lane change (unless
arm is needed to control the bike)
and while stopped waiting to turn.
• Two at a time: Ride no more than
two abreast and do not impede
traffic. If a part of the road has been
closed and dedicated to “bicycle
travel only” you may ride more than
two abreast.
• Hands on the handlebars: Do not
carry anything that prevents keeping
one hand on the handlebars.
• Pass with care: Do not pass at
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