Whether you’re out bicycling often or you are the occasional cycler, knowing basic hand signals will not only aid you in terms of safety and security, they will also increase your chances of having a smooth and disruption-free session.
Hand Signals for cyclers have been made mandatory in many states of America, and if you haven’t been using them, now is the perfect time to start.
The use of hand signals while biking can keep you and those around you safe. It reduces the chances of you getting into an accident with a car driver since you will have used the appropriate hand signals to inform them of your intentions.
There may always exist a chance of errors or accidents when out on the road but the use of hand signals greatly reduces that probability.
Even if you’re not out on the road, hand signals are essential for the safety of other cyclers as it allows them to have adequate time to respond when you plan to turn, stop or slow down.
So, when out with a group of friends or in an area where there are other cyclers, be sure to use the hand signals demonstrated below.
Some Common Rules While Biking
Given ahead are the basic hand signals that you should use when cycling. Indeed, you will notice they are the most widely understood signals to show a biker’s intentions. They are understood by bikers and car drivers alike and will help you in demonstrating your intentions to others.
Before you go through them, note the following rules of signaling.
The 100 Meter Rule
Signal about 100 meters before you plan on stopping or turning. If possible, retain the position for about 5-7 seconds.
This allows for a clear and concise demonstration of your plans. Moreover, allows you to put both your hands back on the handlebar before you make the turn or stop.
Whenever possible, turn your head a little and make eye contact with the person you wish to inform about your movements.
This allows the person to know the action is intended for them. It also allows you to have a better idea of the road.
The Use of Proper Hand Signals When Biking
The moment we take our bikes outdoors we become part of the traffic and these hand signals will allow you to have a safe and hassle-free ride, whether for pleasure or commute. It will also decrease your chances of getting into accidents based on misconceptions between you and a driver.
The basic hand signals to follow when out on the road are as follows
The Left Turn Signal
An essential hand indication sign is to inform the passing by drivers, both cyclists, and car drivers, of your intentions to turn left. Before you wish to turn left, make sure you have your left arm outstretched to your side (horizontally) and your hand facing down.
Since you will be on the right side of the traffic, make sure you have adequate space to turn before crossing the whole road to the left side.
If you’re ahead of a heavy vehicle, you may raise your hand a little to make sure they have seen your indication of turning.
The Right Turn Signal
Similar to the left-hand turn, the right-hand turn signal only requires you to extend your right hand facing down in an outstretched position (horizontally) to inform the people of your intentions to turn right.
You should make the action 100 meters before the turn is due to be made so that the drivers can react accordingly.
Since in some areas, you may be on the right side of the road, drivers may only be able to see your left side, so in places like those, stretch your left arm out and turn it, from your elbow, up at a 90-degree angle in a manner that your hand faces the sky.
You may use both methods in some areas. You can also take a quick turn to see whether the people have seen your indication.
The most important hand signal in biking is the stop sign. This is because, unlike cars, bikes don’t have brake lights, which makes it harder for the people behind the biker to understand his intentions and plan accordingly.
Even though this may not be an offense if not used (in some states), using this signal whenever you intend to stop is a sure-shot way of reducing the probability of someone hitting you when you’re stopping.
Before stopping, take a look around to see that the distance between you and the driver is adequate for them to not hit you, and then, extend your left arm out and turn it at a 90-degree angle, in a manner that your hand faces the ground.
Another way to indicate your intention to stop is to raise your hand, left or right, straight up and make your palm flat, as done by the traffic personnel when instructing a stop. But, If you do not have time for this, you must shout the word stop.
Slowing Down Signal
This action is mostly made when you are traveling with a group of other cyclists as it shows the intention of slowing down, which is easily doable when on the side of a road. The problem exists when other cyclers are matching your pace yet are behind you.
This could cause serious accidents if not used. With an outstretched hand and make movements up and down.
With either hand laid out in a sloping manner, extend your palm to the ground making movement up and downs. Wait for 3-5 seconds before slowing down so that the cyclist behind you gets a clear idea of your intentions.
In case of times when you cannot react fast enough, or there isn’t enough time, shout, clearly and concisely, “Slowing”, which will give the people behind you an additional boost of stimulus and make them react faster.
Point Out an Obstacle Signal
If you are riding in a group and you see an obstacle you should warn the other cyclist behind you. The way to signal them is with the extended arm pointing towards the obstacle.
If the obstacle is to the right you aim using the right hand and the extended index. The same if you find the obstacle to the left you should aim with the left hand. In this way, they will be attentive to what happens in front.
Bike Hand Signals may seem unnecessary and like the invention of an overprotective parent but they’re of the utmost importance when it comes to the safety and security of both the drivers and fellow bikers, along with yourself, and they’re the law, so.
Stay safe and ride responsibly, knowing that staying safe on the road is your duty as much as someone else’s. And, if you have any questions or comments please do so in the comment area below.