On a group ride of 250+ people (and growing!), it is inevitable that an issue is going to arise for someone somewhere. Baltimore Bike Party would like to take a few minutes and lay out some guidelines for dealing with what YOU should do if something goes awry.
The most common problem we are going to run into is a flat tire or other mechanical issue. The BEST thing you can do to help make this process easier is to at LEAST have a spare tube with you. We don’t expect everyone to know how to change a flat in order to ride with us, there will be always be someone around you to help, but bicycle tires come in many sizes and it’s best if you have a tube ready to go that is fit to your bike! So if you get a flat or other bike issue while riding, the important thing to do is let those know around you that you need to pull over and stop. Raise your hand and/or signal that you need to move to the side of the road so as not to cut off the riders near you. If, as a fellow cyclist, you see someone near you get a flat, and you feel that you are an efficient tube-changer, definitely stop with the rider to help them out, especially if you have a pump! If it’s a mechanical issue and you feel that you can help, definitely stop and assist the rider as well as giving them a buddy to catch up to the group.
The second problem, though much more rare, is crashes. If someone goes down, the best thing that should happen is the following; someone should stop behind the crashed rider and their bike and direct traffic around the rider until they can get on their feet and out of the way. Someone (or someones) should obviously stop and see if they are okay and what assistance they need. If you have medical training or a first aid kit, definitely stop and help out! However, like with flat tires, we do not need EVERYONE to stop. If there are already 5 people helping that person, it is OKAY to roll by. Remember that there are a lot of people behind you and if everyone stops suddenly, it could potentially cause more crashes and certainly will cause congestion. In the unlikely event of a large wreck involving multiple people (which has not happened yet and we don’t plan on it!), severely blocking part of the group, word WILL make it up to the front and we will find somewhere to make an impromptu stop to let everyone come back together.
The last issue is very rare, but is always a possibility and we were faced with it on our last ride. This is an issue where someone is hit by a car, or pedestrian, or asshole trying to cause trouble. If an incident like this happens between a rider and someone else, it should be treated similarly to crashes. A few people should check to see that everyone is okay and help as needed, someone should direct the rest of the bike traffic around the issue. There may also now be the need for someone to take down information of a driver, notify police for a report, etc. All of these things are at the discretion of the rider(s) involved. Once again, if the situation looks like it is under control, it is OKAY to keep riding by. Things will get taken care of. Finally, in particular regard to this issue is that Bike Party is non-confrontational and non-violent. We are here to have a good time and to spread good vibes. If we run across someone who is trying to kill our buzz, we should not engage that person on their level. If someone does something to harass or injure one of our riders, the best thing we can possibly do is brush it off and keep rolling. I know it can be tempting to want to chase someone down or cuss them out or give them the finger, but don’t. We are getting such a huge positive reaction from the people we pass by in our city that we can’t let one or two bad eggs ruin our night.
So, in the meantime, what can YOU do to help us out?
1. Familiarize yourself with the route. We post the routes ahead of time and schedule stops in great part to help with people being able to catch up if they have a problem. If you get a flat or stop to help someone, it helps to know which way we are going!
2. Wear a helmet. I know they’re dorky but put stickers or antlers or lights on it!
3. Bring a spare tube (or two!). As mentioned above, EVERYONE should have a spare tube for their bike.
4. Bring a pump and tire levers if you have them. We don’t need everyone in the ride to have all the tools needed to change a flat, but the more people we have prepared the better!
5. Become a volunteer! We have a growing number of ride assistants and are always looking for more help. If you are interested in helping to facilitate the rides in any way, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The more people that we have helping along the way, the more smoothly the ride will go!
Peace, Love, and Sprockets
Baltimore Bike Party