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Thread: Universal I-am-OK-No-need-to-stop signal?

  1. #1
    Registered User GotFog's Avatar
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    Universal I-am-OK-No-need-to-stop signal?

    Through osmosis, I figured out that if a motorcyclist stops, and/or dismounts on the side of a road, that most other motorcyclists will slow or stop, waiting for a signal that either all is good, or all is bad. I learned that a simple ‘thumbs up’ alerts the approaching drivers that all is ok. That seems to work well.

    However, I stopped recently, and with back to traffic, and ear plugs in, I failed to notice an approaching car. I did not give the Thumbs-Up. The driver of the car was apparently a motorcyclist, and in good faith he stopped behind me. When I noticed him, he pulled along side, with window down, and asked if all was ok. It was, and I thanked him for his concern, and apologized for his unnecessary stop.

    Here is the rub. He was somewhat perturbed in that I did not properly alert him. He mentioned something about putting my helmet on the ground, or some such thing. I was not aware of this technique, and don’t remember reading about this. I cannot recall any such advice in the past.

    So, from the more experienced riders out there, is there some type of universal signal, other than the standard thumbs up, that “all is ok, and I am just stopping to smell the roses?” A signal that does not require my active participation?

    always learning something new,
    John
    Last edited by GotFog; 02-23-2018 at 10:40 PM. Reason: Spelling

  2. #2
    Liaison 20774's Avatar
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    I actually thought that the helmet down behind the motorcycle meant you were OK! Anyway, I googled the phrase and found several references to the idea that helmet on ground behind the bike IS the signal to say you needed help.

    http://advrider.com/index.php?thread...busted.566982/

    http://www.visordown.com/forum/gener...istress-signal
    Kurt -- Forum Liaison ---> Resources and Links Thread <---
    '78 R100/7 & '69 R69S & '52 R25/2
    mine-ineye-deatheah-pielayah-jooa-kalayus. oolah-minane-hay-meeriah-kal-oyus-algay-a-thaykin', buddy!

  3. #3
    Registered User GotFog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 20774 View Post
    I actually thought that the helmet down behind the motorcycle meant you were OK! Anyway, I googled the phrase and found several references to the idea that helmet on ground behind the bike IS the signal to say you needed help.

    http://advrider.com/index.php?thread...busted.566982/

    http://www.visordown.com/forum/gener...istress-signal
    Interesting. I honestly do not recall where my helmet was. But I don't think i would put it on the ground, just on principal. Still, thanks for your search.

    Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk
    John
    Defiance, MO
    96 BMW R1100GS; 17 KTM 350 EXC-F

  4. #4
    Sometime many years ago I learned that placing a helmet on the ground near the edge of the pavement was a recognized sign asking for help.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
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  5. #5
    Registered User GTRider's Avatar
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    I agree that a universal signal would be helpful—I usually slow when approaching a stopped rider and wigwag thumb up/thumb down in hopes they will reply in kind, but usually the stopped rider just stares in return.

    Helmet on ground behind bike as a distress signal was promoted in the 50s and 60s by a number of MC organizations, including AMA. Few among today’s MC community are aware of or recognize the signal, unfortunately. That could be changed if training organizations started spreading the word, and if organizations like MOA and RA and others chimed in.

    BTW, LEOs are trained to stop behind a stopped vehicle so as to protect said vehicle and occupants. I’ve maintained for some time that it’s safest for me, as a civilian, to stop beyond the potentially disabled vehicle. If they are legit, I can walk back and assist and don’t have to swing around them to get back onto the roadway. If they are not legit my path to bug out is clear...

    Best,
    DG
    DGerber
    1983 R80ST — 1984 R80 G/S-PD — 2004 K1200GT w/Hannigan S/C — 2010 K1300GT — 2018 R1200GS
    BMWMOA#52184, AMA#271542, IBA#138

  6. #6
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider View Post
    Helmet on ground behind bike as a distress signal .
    That's how I remember it.
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  7. #7
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PGlaves View Post
    Sometime many years ago I learned that placing a helmet on the ground near the edge of the pavement was a recognized sign asking for help.
    Don't place it too close to the road, texters will run over it
    Lee
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by GotFog View Post
    Through osmosis, I figured out that if a motorcyclist stops, and/or dismounts on the side of a road, that most other motorcyclists will slow or stop, waiting for a signal that either all is good, or all is bad. I learned that a simple ‘thumbs up’ alerts the approaching drivers that all is ok. That seems to work well.

    However, I stopped recently, and with back to traffic, and ear plugs in, I failed to notice an approaching car. I did not give the Thumbs-Up. The driver of the car was apparently a motorcyclist, and in good faith he stopped behind me. When I noticed him, he pulled along side, with window down, and asked if all was ok. It was, and I thanked him for his concern, and apologized for his unnecessary stop.

    Here is the rub. He was somewhat perturbed in that I did not properly alert him. He mentioned something about putting my helmet on the ground, or some such thing. I was not aware of this technique, and don’t remember reading about this. I cannot recall any such advice in the past.

    So, from the more experienced riders out there, is there some type of universal signal, other than the standard thumbs up, that “all is ok, and I am just stopping to smell the roses?” A signal that does not require my active participation?

    always learning something new,
    John
    Geesh, people don't even know to flash their lights anymore at oncoming traffic to warn of hazard or LEO. How can anyone expect people would know these more advanced concepts?

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  9. #9
    MOA #24991 Pauls1150's Avatar
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    We old pharts all know that the helmet on the ground behind the bike means "Please help".
    Add this to the mass of things we need to pass on to the newer riders.

    To answer the original question (how to passively signal "I am OK") - not that I've ever heard of or seen.

    Variations of a "live" OK may be one or two thumbs up, a wave-on (which may be vague, and confused with "please pull over"), holding up your camera ("I'm just taking a picture"), miming taking a drink... depends on the situation.

    "LEO" warning is a quick left forefinger tap to the side of the head...

  10. #10
    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat Omega Man's Avatar
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    I have never heard of this concept. While always willing to help, the last time I did a circle back to check on someone, it was kind if "iffy". There was no plate on the bike and the operators story sounded fishy.
    I don't know what to say other than "go with your gut".
    OM
    "You can do good or you can do well. Sooner or later they make you choose." MI5
    Mod Squad
    2009 F800GS 1994 TW200

  11. #11
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
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    Have always used the helmet on traffic side of road as a distress signal, since no antenna to tie my hanky on or a hood to lift we were taught as well

    Also thought the tap on top of helmet was the signal for a decaled or stealth car. A point to the helmet side was THINK about what you are doing or did

    I'll typically slow and try to make eye contact with a lifted palm up move if they look confused and typically get a wave or a thumbs up.Sometimes they are just taking a break.
    If I see someone kneeled over with a head in the engine or tire ,I'll stop almost everytime to ask if help needed regardless of brand...cause I have been that guy at least once.Never have been concerned about a hijack...who wants a BMW?
    Steve Henson-Mod Team and SABMWRA Prez

    Be decisive, right or wrong.The road of life is paved with
    flat squirrels who couldn't make a decision~unknown

  12. #12
    Well here is a universal sign that you can't confuse, and one I've used ! monkey flipping the bird.jpg
    Gail Thorne
    2017 F700GS

  13. #13
    IBA# 5819 61996's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee View Post
    That's how I remember it.
    That is correct.
    On the ground to the left of the rear wheel.

    Except for old timers, no one would know anyway.
    So flailing your arms over your head should get someones attention.
    “Fate whispers to the warrior, 'You can not withstand the storm.'
    The warrior whispers back, 'I am the storm.'

  14. #14
    IBA# 5819 61996's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shortythorne View Post
    Well here is a universal sign that you can't confuse, and one I've used ! monkey flipping the bird.jpg
    ...nice.
    “Fate whispers to the warrior, 'You can not withstand the storm.'
    The warrior whispers back, 'I am the storm.'

  15. #15
    Registered User GTRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shortythorne View Post
    Well here is a universal sign that you can't confuse, and one I've used ! monkey flipping the bird.jpg
    Do you get a lot of roadside assistance by deploying that signal??


    Best,
    DG
    DGerber
    1983 R80ST — 1984 R80 G/S-PD — 2004 K1200GT w/Hannigan S/C — 2010 K1300GT — 2018 R1200GS
    BMWMOA#52184, AMA#271542, IBA#138

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