Just like drivers, cyclists are required to familiarize themselves with road rules. In addition to this, they also need to know the proper use of hand signals to help them communicate with motorists. Fortunately, bike hand signals are pretty master to use and remember.
Importance of Bike Hand Signals
Cyclists are vulnerable road users, and crashes involving them have a high fatality chance. Statistics released in 2015 showed that more than 1,000 bicyclists lost their lives in road accidents, while another 467,000 were injured.
Cyclists’ accidents may be caused by poor road conditions, lack of bike lanes, or distracted drivers. Additionally, crashes may be caused by a misunderstanding between motorists and cyclists.
Sadly, cyclists are treated as second-class road users, placing them at a greater risk than other motorists. Therefore, it is crucial for them to communicate with other road users to reduce the number of cyclist fatalities.
Hand signals bridge the gap between cyclists and motorists. They notify drivers when you want to slow down, stop, or turn. Using this signal enables them to react appropriately, uiltimately reducing the accident risks.
Bike Hand Signals Everyone Should Know
Here are some tips for using bike hand signals:
- Give the signals early enough, about 100 meters before your intended turn or stop, to notify other road users in time. Similarly, check your surroundings to get an idea of the activities around you.
- Hold a signal for about three seconds before returning both hands to the handlebars as you stop or turn. Do not make any turns with only one hand at the handlebar. Three seconds is long enough for motorists to notice and anticipate your actions.
With that in mind, below are the three basic bike hand signals every rider should know:
This signal is significant as bikes do not have brake lights to notify drivers that you are about to stop. To signify stopping or slowing down, make a downward 90-degree angle at your elbows with your hand open.
2. Left Turn
When you are about to make a left turn, extend your left arm out to the side. Remember that this should be done 100 meters before your turning point so that you can return your arm to the handlebar while making the turn.
3. Right Turn
A right turn signal can be done in two ways. You can extend your right arm as you would in a left turn. Again ensure you do this before the turning point.
However, some states prohibit this turn signal and instead advise you to use your left arm extended out and turned up at a 90 degree angle. Check your state requirements before using the right turn hand signal.
Additional Tips for Cyclists
- Avoid making sudden swerves or turns
- Wear the right biking gear
- Make yourself visible
- Use the bike lane if available
- Avoid distracted riding activities
Wrapping It Up
Bike hand signals are a crucial communication tool for cyclists and motorists. Since bicycles lack signals, they use these signals to notify drivers of turns and stops. This, in turn, prepares them for the cyclists’ actions.
Before using the hand signs, check your surrounding. Use these signs 100 meters before you turn or stop. Also, hold your hand out for about three seconds, as motorists might miss it if you remove it too quickly.