How to Use Bicycle Hand Signals

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Using turn signals when driving a car not only makes for safer roads, but each driver gets to his destination faster. Bicyclists can do the same. Use directional turn signals to tell other cyclists and car drivers of your intent. You can also use warnings for other riders when cycling in a pack.

Four Common Directional Signals

  • Signal a stop by creating an upside-down right angle. Extend either arm out sideways, turning the hand down to make a 90-degree angle at the elbow with your palm facing backward. Extend a straight arm with a flat hand to signal a turn, using your right arm for a right turn and your left arm for a left turn. Keeping your hands on the handlebars, bend forward so that your elbows flex to about 90 degrees. Move one of your elbows back and forth slowly to wave a rider or driver ahead of you, asking them to pass.

Warnings to Other Riders

  • Alert riders to a pothole by pointing to the ground with one extended finger on the side of the hazard. Do the same for gravel or debris, but fan all of your fingers out. Extend an arm with a raised open palm toward a hazard on the shoulder of the road, like you're trying to give it a high-five. Then tuck that open hand behind your back and repeat. This signal can be used for parked cars, pedestrians, dogs or other cyclists. Pat your rear end to tell riders to look up or pay attention, and move over if necessary.

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