Cycling is fast becoming an accessible means of commuting, exercise, and in many cases a hobby across the world. Although everyone wants to start cycling as soon as they get a decent pair of wheels, most never seem to acquaint themselves with the essentials rules of the road when. Not being clear about cycling road rules leads to one inevitability:
It is essential to understand hand signals when riding in bike lanes and busy streets to ensure your safety as a cyclist and that of vehicles. Some hand signals you will discover are the same across the world, while some have different hand gestures. We will be discussing the ones for US cyclists.
There are more than ten hand signals that cyclists should know. To kick off, I have chosen to mention the seven most important ones for all beginners riding in groups.
When on the road a left turn is indicated by fully extending the left arm out, with your palm flat facing the ground. You can also signal with a bent elbow, but the straight arm out is more popular and more visible.
To make a right turn, there are two accepted hand signals in the USA. The first gesture is by extending the right arm straight out (90-degree angle) with your palm flat facing the ground. The second signal to turn right is by raising your left arm, bending the elbow, and pointing up with the index finger.
To indicate slowing down you can use two hand signals. The first is by extending your left hand down with your palm side out. The second is by folding your arm behind your back with your hand rolled in a fist.
In the United Kingdom, slowing down in also indicated by extending the right arm out and moving it up & down slowly. the Another popular gesture is with the right arm raised up with a call of “STOPPING!”
When coming to an emergency stop you can immediately indicate to other cyclists and vehicles by quickly raising your left arm up.
To indicate hurdles like potholes, damaged road, rough surfaces, etc. the cyclist hand signal in the US is by extending your arm (left or right, whichever side the hurdle is) down and with a finger pointing towards the road. You can also move your arm in circles to put more emphasis on your single. While doing the gesture, you can also call out “GLASS!”
In case there is debris, rocks, or gravel on the road, you should immediately indicate to the cyclists behind you. Signaling to cyclists behind you can save them from an unfortunate crash.The ideal hand signal is by extending your arm out at a 45-degree angle (halfway up), with your palm open, then move your hand back and forth.
The lead cyclist in a group is mainly responsible for blocking the wind for others behind them. But, as can as one can be it’s quite impossible for one person to ride against the wind. This hand gesture requires the group leader to pull off (also called pulling through).
When you want to pull through, keep your hands on the handlebar then move your left/right elbow out (so it points away from the body). The elbow (left or right) that you move out indicates which side you will pull off too. Another rider from that side then takes the lead position.
When a driver or pedestrian has given you way its always nice to thank them for it, but may not seem possible at high speed. Simply raise either of your hands and wave at them as a gesture of thanks.
This hand signal is primarily for careless or amateur cyclists who move too close to others. Drifting in other cyclists area can cause tires to touch and eventually cause several riders to collide. This universal hand signal is indicated by, moving your right hand behind the back and tapping your hip. This gesture is universal, and it is necessary to memorize especially if you ride in a group.
Hope you found my essential road signs guide informative and will practice using them. If I missed any other important hand signals while cycling simply leave it in the comments section below. Remember to follow road rules, and use important gestures to indicate to other cyclists when there is danger on the road.
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