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September 26, 2006 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Why do the motorcycle cops leading up a motorcade wave (both hands) when they go around a corner? What are they signaling?

In D.C. this weekend I saw a motorcade (non-presidential) that was led by at least 3 motorcycles. As they turned off Constitution Ave and onto 15th St. the officer would take both of his hands off the handlebars and raise them up beside his head. On one hand [pun intended] it looked like they were just waving at the blocked traffic, but on the other, they each did this at the same point in the road and it really wasn't a wave, it seemed more like a signal of some kind.
posted by clgregor to Law & Government (8 answers total)
The one I saw (this morning, on Rock Creek) had the motorcycle cops waving people over to stop at the side of the road. Even after it was obvious that everyone was stopped, the motorcycle cops kept waving. It may or may not be the same thing you saw -- just a reminder to the motorists, "ha ha, you can't go".
posted by inigo2 at 9:32 AM on September 26, 2006

I didn't see what you saw, so I can't be sure. But there's definitely a signal for right turn that looks like a cross between a wave and a hand-raised-to-the-side-of-the-head. It's only done with the left hand. I assume that this is something that cops do when leading a motorcade because they can't use the bike's turn signals (their turn signals are on "hazard" / "full cop lights" and therefore cant be used to signal for a turn).

Why a motorcyclist would remove both his hands from the bars at the same time is beyond me. That's dangerous. And besides, if your right hand is not on the throttle, then most bikes "spring back" to a neutral position for safety... So I think it was an optical illusion that both hands were raised (perhaps you saw three cops doing the signal but confused some of the arms?). If it's true that it's a one handed signal, then that bolsters the right turn signal above. If it's really a two handed signal of some sort, then I'm stumped.
posted by zpousman at 10:16 AM on September 26, 2006

Do they look like this?

posted by blue_beetle at 10:38 AM on September 26, 2006

two right turns!
posted by clgregor at 10:53 AM on September 26, 2006

Yes, sorry it looked just like the right turn signal, but they used both hands, which we found very odd.
posted by clgregor at 10:54 AM on September 26, 2006

I could be wrong, as I haven't actually tried this on my motorcycle and have no intention to, but I don't think it's even possible to initiate or maintain a turn without one hand on the handlebars. The bike wants to gyro upright at higher speeds, or fall over at low speeds, and it takes pressure on the handlebar to make it do otherwise. Plus, as zpousman said, the right hand controls the throttle. Without witnessing it myself, I'd have to bet a case of beer that you saw an overlap of multiple riders signaling a right turn with their left hands.
posted by Tubes at 1:54 PM on September 26, 2006

We talked more about this and there were definitely two hands up, and it was just before they began the physical turn around the corner. They put their hands back on teh bike to make the turn. If only I had a picture...
posted by clgregor at 9:47 AM on September 27, 2006

Well, then at least they weren't defying physics, but I dunno what the reason for that gesture could be. Weird.
posted by Tubes at 1:10 PM on September 28, 2006

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