Most Common Cycling Hand Signals

Cities and towns across the nation are making their streets more bicycle friendly, giving people the opportunity to bike to work or just ride for the fun of it. Whether you’re taking advantage of the bike lane or not, it’s important to know what a cyclist’s hand signals mean in order to keep everyone safe. 

Just like a car uses lights to communicate, cyclists use a series of hand gestures to indicate turns and braking. With a high number of personal injury claims in Denver, it’s worth refreshing your knowledge to keep yourself out of liability in the event of an accident. Here are the most common cycling hand signals.

Motion to Stop

The most common signal tells other cyclists and drivers that you are preparing to come to a full and complete stop. To do this, you extend your left arm out from your torso and angle your forearm downward, making an upside-down L shape. 

This requires you to take your hand off of the brake and handlebar, which many riders prefer not to do. So, you can yell “stopping” over your shoulder when in a group of cyclists instead. On the road, however, the stop signal is ideal as drivers may not be able to hear you. 

Left Turn

This is the easiest signal to remember. When you’re getting ready to make a left, simply extend your left arm all the way out. Remember to signal in advance just like you would if you were in a vehicle, giving other drivers plenty of notice. 

Right Turn

There are two ways to signal a right turn. The first is to extend your right arm all the way out, making it a simple opposite of the left turn signal. The second is to extend your left arm and bend your elbow, sticking your forearm up into the air. 

You can use either under the Uniform Vehicle Code in the United States. Nearly all state traffic laws adhere to this code, but there are some localities that do not. If you’re unsure and want to be safe, it never hurts to check with local authorities. Again, signal ahead of time to help avoid unwanted car accidents

Signaling Lane Changes

You use the right and left turn signals to tell other drivers you are changing lanes. However, you need to be very alert when doing so. Signal ahead of time, then merge into the next line just like you would when driving. Remember, the same rules apply to bikes when traveling on the road. 

Passing on the Right

When traffic stalls, cyclists are able to move around vehicles on the road. You need to do so on the right, keeping you closer to the curb or within the bike lane. It helps to stay roughly a meter away from other cars as well as the curb when possible to give yourself room to move. 

Common accidents when passing include running into a suddenly opening car door, someone backing out of a parking space, and cars changing lanes. Having that extra room allows you to move out of the way when obstacles arise. There are no signals for this, but it’s an essential part of cycling. 

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