All over the world, cyclists have to use signals to let others know where they will go. Though this law about bike hand signals is rarely enforced, it is essential for all bicyclists to use hand signals as a way to be aware of their intended movements.
Knowing basic bike hand signals can help you avoid danger and reduce the chance of a bike crash.
When you apply for a license, you usually need to pass a test demonstrating that you know the road rules. Among the most important is signaling your intentions when turning or changing lanes.
The key to remaining safe on the road and ensuring that you predict when riding is knowing the top bike hand signals. Below, we outline the signals you should know to keep you safe.
Table of Contents
- 1 Importance of Bike Hand Signals
- 2 Types of Hand Signals
- 3 Group Riding Etiquette
- 4 Safety Tips for New Cyclists
- 4.1 Practice in a Quiet Area or Road.
- 4.2 Make Sure You Always Look Over Your Shoulders.
- 4.3 Stay Away From Trucks And Buses.
- 4.4 Be Familiar with Hand Signals.
- 4.5 Inspect Your Bike To Make Sure It’s Working Properly.
- 4.6 Get A Bright Set Of Lights To Keep Them With You.
- 4.7 Keep Away From The Kerb.
- 4.8 Stay Away From Parked Cars.
- 4.9 Watch Out For Pedestrians.
- 4.10 Adapt To Obstructions
- 4.11 Keep Eye Contact If You Can
- 4.12 Make Sure Not To Break Red Lights And Not To Cycle On Footpaths.
- 5 Conclusion
Importance of Bike Hand Signals
There have been many bicycle accidents over the years that have resulted in the deaths of cyclists. Although potholes and poor road conditions are common causes for these accidents, many crashes are caused by misunderstandings between motorists and cyclists.
Bikers can signal their intentions to reduce the risk of being hit by a car while out on their bikes. Even though one can still be hit if a motor vehicle drives carelessly and hits you on the bike, signaling their intentions reduces this chance.
Bicyclists must be able to understand signals for their own safety as well as that of other motorists. Use hand signals to let others know if you’re going to stop, slow down, or turn if you’re part of a group riding with a peloton or simply in an area with many cyclists. This gives them enough time to react accordingly.
Types of Hand Signals
Hand signals should become a regular part of your riding routine; they are a vivid indicator of your plans to others to enhance courage and evade probable dangers. In case you’re riding in a group, you may want to repeat the signals to other riders.
Remember to thank a motorist or rider for their kindness. That’s one of the most effective signals.
Here are the types of hand signals.
Debris / pothole
Give riders behind you an early warning by pointing out hazards as you approach them and continuing to point as you pass them. Riders behind you might not see clearly what’s being done up ahead and might not see debris or potholes.
Then you can extend your arm to the side of your bike so that the hazard will pass by and point to the floor. In some situations, a circling motion will accompany this.
Cyclists can only legally signal a turn or change of lanes to their right. Riders are also encouraged to indicate a left turn to avoid potentially offending following cyclists and other road users.
Whenever you’re moving right, make sure that you check your head first, and then signal.
Here is how to do left and right turns.
In a left turn, grasp your left arm horizontally and extend it out in front of you. To signal a left turn, do not simply signal the turn as you make it, but do so in advance as well.
In the past, cyclists extended the left arm out and up at the elbow to indicate a right turn. This practice has been replaced with a straight right hand held straight out horizontally. State traffic laws generally conform to the UVC, but there are exceptions. The Uniform Traffic Code in the US recognizes both approaches, but it recommends using the right-arm-out approach.
It would be best if you practice swinging your left arm behind the small of your back whenever you come close to a parked vehicle that you have to get around. Before pulling out to maneuver around an obstacle, take care to check your back for anything that could be coming up behind you.
It’s not unusual for riders to follow very closely, and bicycles can stop abruptly, so always use this signal. While slowing down or preparing to stop, extend your right hand back and spread your fingers in a sweeping motion towards the following rider.
Sometimes, it’s vital to let other riders overtake you. In such a scenario, utilize your right forearm and hand to make a sweeping motion with your palm facing forward. Repeat it a few times. If possible, shift to the left while signaling to facilitate easy passing.
Passing on the Right
As cyclists are usually moving faster than traffic in dense areas, it is important to stay within about a meter of the kerb or well within the bike lanes when applicable. Always keep an eye out for traffic, whether you are passing or not. It could still be argued in a courtroom. Always be vigilant when driving along the right shoulder or with the right turn signal, as the truth is that drivers may not see you. Walking or riding on the wrong side of the road increases your risk of a collision.
Take A Lane
Make sure you signal and get into a lane in advance if you are traveling at the same speed as traffic or will need to make a left turn soon. This will place you in the right position to navigate the intersection with the rest of the traffic safely.
It would be best if you always gave plenty of warning for any action you take in traffic, but using hand signals during your commute and staying alert will ensure your safety. Avoid listening to headphones while riding.
Group Riding Etiquette
Sometimes, you may find yourself riding alongside other cyclists. In such a situation, it’s vital to be courteous throughout. Here are the group riding etiquette
- Avoid Sudden Movements and Ride Predictably.
- Whenever there is a technical problem, you may need to stop an awkward spot, pull over completely, and exit the road.
- Do not immediately assume that you can join a group of clearly known riders and ride together; ask politely.
- When braking, look forward and determine where you’ll need to slow down. If necessary, raise your seat and increase your wind resistance; you’ll often achieve the desired effect that way.
- When possible, take turns being the draftee; don’t always ride last.
Cycling is legal if you do not ride within 1.5 meters of your mate, but common sense suggests that it is sometimes inappropriate. You may be driving on an unsafe route (for example, around a blind corner or over a crest of a hill), or you might be blocking traffic. Just use your judgment and be considerate of other road users.
Safety Tips for New Cyclists
If you’re cycling for the first time, here are the safety tips.
Practice in a Quiet Area or Road.
If it’s your first time cycling or you have not been on a bike for a while, try practicing on a quiet street.
Make Sure You Always Look Over Your Shoulders.
A proper shoulder check, mainly on your right-wing, is necessary for safe cycling, whether on the road or busy off-road routes. This check is especially crucial when changing lanes, changing directions in time to reach an obstacle, or just generally being aware of what is around you.
Keep An Eye Out At Junctions.
It would be best if you drove responsibly at junctions of all types, including crossroads, roundabouts, private driveways, and entrances. Cars often do stupid things at junctions, as do pedestrians and cyclists. In most cases, it is safer to stay back and wait for the left turn instead of trying to drive through. Moreover, other drivers will likely try to pass you, even when they are close to the intersection.
Stay Away From Trucks And Buses.
In all vehicles, there are blind spots in which the driver cannot see objects close to their car, van, or truck. With trucks, there can be large blind spots in which the driver cannot see objects. If you can’t see the driver looking at you, they will likely not see you. Observe where truck drivers are turning or may turn. Keep a safe distance behind them and never approach undertaking trucks. Be aware that large trucks may turn partially right before turning left.
Be Familiar with Hand Signals.
Using hand signals is an essential skill, and you should practice before setting out and be able to do so without wobbling if you are cycling on the road. In addition to telling motorists your intentions, hand signals notify pedestrians and cyclists of yours as well. They should be used when changing lanes, turning on or off roads, stopping, and overtaking another vehicle or object in the road or cycle track.
Inspect Your Bike To Make Sure It’s Working Properly.
If you need brake repairs, don’t worry about those who think you should be able to do it yourself. Most bicycle travelers will do exactly what most car owners do – take their bike to a trusted shop for assistance.
Get A Bright Set Of Lights To Keep Them With You.
Good lighting is far more vital and effective than high-vis, which requires headlights to shine on the reflective strips to light up. Lighting can be seen from many distances and around corners. Think about purchasing a secondary set of lights if you are cycling in dark or dull conditions. They can be less powerful and smaller.
Keep Away From The Kerb.
Keeping out of the kerb allows you to avoid potholes and people stepping off footpaths without looking. It may be instinctual to cycle close to the kerb, but this is not the safest option. When cycling on multi-lane highways and streets, stay away from the lane markings; instead, position yourself in the middle of the lane. It is safer.
Stay Away From Parked Cars.
When cycling over parked cars, keep a door-length distance from them. If no cycle lanes are marked next to parked cars, do this, as well. “Dooring” describes situations in which people exit parked cars without looking, and people on bicycles get hit.
Watch Out For Pedestrians.
Be alert to pedestrians during times of heavy traffic, especially in city centers and town centers, and always assume that a person may be crossing the road while the traffic is slow or stopped. It would be best if you were on the lookout for people walking off footpaths without noticing. Jaywalking pedestrians shouldn’t be let off the hook since they don’t see bikes as a risk. Watch out and practice safety.
Adapt To Obstructions
The shoulder check is pivotal when maneuvering around parked or stopped vehicles. If you cannot see where a vehicle is parked or stopped, you will need to look behind you.
In cases of buses at bus stops, you should generally avoid looming behind them. If it’s clear to do so, move out and around before passing it.
Keep Eye Contact If You Can
It is presumptuous to assume that motorists can see you except when you have made eye contact with them, and even then, cyclists should be cautious. Motorists tend to underestimate bicycle speed or are distracted by other things on the road.
Make Sure Not To Break Red Lights And Not To Cycle On Footpaths.
Don’t break red lights, and don’t ride on footpaths. Both are illegal. If you feel the need to leave a road with no off-road cycle path, you should also dismount. Also, park or dismount where there is a sidewalk or pedestrian movement.
Road safety is important to cyclists as well as motorcycle riders. Although the roadway is not a minefield, there are hazards due to the unpredictable behavior of pedestrians and other drivers. There may also be hazards that may arise in some particular situations.
You should learn your hand signs, use your voice if necessary, and make sure your group of riders also understands them. You can adjust the signals that suit your group and agree upon certain signals if some are difficult to see or understand.
Stay safe and have fun riding!