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Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

View Poll Results: How often do you use the "slow" hand signal"
I use a mirror and I often use the "slow" hand signal. 13 24.07%
I don't use a mirror but I often use the "slow" hand signal. 10 18.52%
I use a mirror but I rarely if ever use the "slow" hand signal. 10 18.52%
I don't use a mirror and I rarely if ever use the "slow" hand signal. 21 38.89%
Voters: 54. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-28-06, 07:37 PM   #1
Helmet Head
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the importance of the "slow" hand-signal

[tt]
...
I have come to rely on making a "slow" hand-signal as my
most important safety device for drivers approaching from behind. The
unsymmetrical movement seems to catch the attention of most inattentive
ones; and the added width helps inform them that a safe passing distance is
not by my shoulder.

I use the standard signal taught in Drivers Ed (upper arm 90' straight out,
lower arm 90' straight down) because it's what drivers are taught to
recognize, and because it makes me a little bit wider than an arm-down 45'
style.

How many of you also use this? What is your experience with it? If you
don't use it, please try it and let us all know if it makes a difference.



Thank you for your thought and consideration. And thank you for bicycling!
DancesWithCars at CycleMedia.org

"Half of all car/bike crashes are the cyclists' fault; half are motorists'. So
cycling as a responsible, law-abiding adult is 50% safer. But by learning to
compensate for common motorist errors as well, we've become 80% safer.

Just as drivers of big-rigs, buses and motorcycles take extra classes to learn
predictable mistakes, collisions, and their prevention, we've taken in-depth
adult cycling classes that taught us common mistakes and how to compensate for
them.

This Advanced Traffic-Bicycling (sm) serves us everywhere we go, on every road,
bikelane or not. It works so well that our cycling becomes a dance of mutual
cooperation with drivers."

from Dancing-With-Cars (sm): An Introduction to Advanced Traffic-Bicycling (sm)
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Old 06-28-06, 07:45 PM   #2
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I can remark that issuing the "slow" signal while simultaneously freezing your pedal stroke may help cue the observer better. I was coming over a sharp rise and found traffic unexpectedly stalled, and tried to issue the frozen-pedal-stroke-and-STOP-signal thing to the motorists coming up the rise behind me, but it just goes to show, nothing works 100% of the time. They caught on real fast when they topped the rise, however

As I mentioned recently over in Commuting, if you are slowing using hand brakes while you have just one hand on the bars, sometimes it helps if you lay your knee against the top tube to triangulate your contact with your bike. I do this if I'm signalling a RH lane change while going 30mph downhill into downtown across bumps, and some other situations where I need a little extra stabilization. For my frame size & leg length, stopping the pedals at 6 o'clock & 12 o'clock puts my 12 o'clock knee right at top-tube height.
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Old 06-28-06, 07:54 PM   #3
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Depends on the bike I ride... one has a mirror, the other does not. I do use the hand signal and find it generally works. It may not work for the first motorist, but generally I get a response. I don't do the 90 degree bend at the elbow, but I do stick my arm out and downward with the hand well outstretched in much the same manner as one might see a traffic cop indicating a stop.

I also wear red gloves (have done this for years) to make my hand more visible and to grab attention.

On the plus side I have gotten fast reactions from some motorists, so that encouraged me to use the signal when and where needed.

On the negative side, if the motorists were going fast or did not themselves perceive a need to stop or slow, the hand signal would go unheeded, but this was rare.

The best reactions have been with motorists trying to right hook me, or moving into a position that might lead to a right hook... the motorist must be looking at me to see how they can pass, and they were close, so my signal was pretty obvious to them at that point.
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Old 06-28-06, 08:03 PM   #4
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Oh, and for the poll... well, if I'm simply stopping and neither changing lanes nor turning, I often don't signal slow/stop because I'm using both hands to brake. And in my city environment, it is generally well-DUH obvious that I'm going to be stopping, rather than plow a line of cars at a stoplight, or similar other stuff. Oh, and I use a mirror.

If I'm making a turn signal, then (1) I think that it's sort of implicit that I'm slowing down, so I usually just keep signalling the turn; and (2) with just my rear brake available, my slowing-down is rather gradual. I can freeze my pedal stroke as a body-language indication that I'm slowing down, too.

If I'm signalling a lane change, then most of the time I'm accelerating or holding a steady speed. If I'm changing lanes and also decelerating, I may try to mix in a SLOW/STOP arm signal along with the left or right signal. But again, I think an observer can figure out that if I'm merging into a lane that contains a line of stopped or slower people in cars, that I'm going to be slowing down. The directional signal takes top priority over the slowing signal if I have to choose, especially since it takes time to flip from a L right-turn signal to an inverted L slow/stop signal. I'd rather have them see one recognizable signal than have them think I'm trying to make some sort of gangsta gestures

Last edited by mechBgon; 06-28-06 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 06-28-06, 08:19 PM   #5
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I've just started doing something similar. I stretch out my left arm, downward to signal I'm slowing and/or stopping, as well as sitting up straight. When I'm at my turn, I move my arm up and signal the turn.

I really think the sitting upright, even if temporary, catches their attention. Even the old guy in the pickup behind me today (I know him from around town and he is very impatient and cantankerous) slowed and stayed behind me until I made my turn. I travel on a light traffic roadway and I've only used this a few times, but so far, it really seems to work. Last week, a cement truck driver seemed undecided about what to do, stay behind me or go around, until I sat upright and signaled that I was slowing. I knew he understood when I heard him downshift and slow back down.
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Old 06-28-06, 08:31 PM   #6
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I find signalling problematic because I usually have to hold on to my handle bars during the trickier moments. Nevertheless, the only signals that seem to work well for me are the ones I give to people while I'm looking them in the eye.
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Old 06-28-06, 11:12 PM   #7
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i'm pointing and waving my hands like Mancini. i don't use some static, arm position #1,2 or 3, out of an armchair bicycling manual, nor do i consistantly hand waggle OR use a mirror.

I also signal with fanny raises, steely eyed glances, and mental telepathy. And exorcise my notions. or is it 'exercise?'
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Old 06-29-06, 02:12 AM   #8
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I think some of the rednecks I encounter would use any type of out-of-the ordinary
hand signal as an excuse to long honk or something aggressive and childish, especially
where I used to live. I live by my mirrior but have found that turning my head a little
to make it appear you are looking right at them (even if you are still focusing ahead)
makes it less likely for an act of agression. People like anonimity when they do bad stuff
to other people. Making it appear they are going to have to do thier bad stuff while
someone is looking at them makes it less likely they will follow through.
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Old 06-29-06, 07:09 AM   #9
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I think regardless of signalling not all drivers will be happy. I was nearly hit by someone passing me after I signalled left from just right of the double yellow line and started turning. He turned onto the road after I had changed position from right to left in the lane. THankfully he took the turn with me. Started to yell at me an this old lady who saw the whole thing chewed him up one side and down the other for speeding and not paying attention. I just left with her yelling at him.
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Old 06-29-06, 08:19 AM   #10
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I use the 45° slow signal if I hear that a car is about to pass me approaching a 4way stop or a roundabout. Generally it works pretty well. I haven't been hooked or squeezed in a while.
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Old 06-29-06, 08:24 AM   #11
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Quote:
I find signalling problematic because I usually have to hold on to my handle bars during the trickier moments. Nevertheless, the only signals that seem to work well for me are the ones I give to people while I'm looking them in the eye.
sbhikes,

Do you think people don't notice you because of your low position? Your avatar makes your ride look very low-profile.
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Old 06-29-06, 08:43 AM   #12
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I could be wrong, and although I do use it occasionally, I wonder how effective it is. When approaching a stop, drivers expect you to decelerate, at least gradually. In addition, they know your are slower then they are when cruising, so they expect to have to brake, or pass.

The time I think the "slow" signal is more important is when motorists are not expecting you to slow down, or at least, the less experienced ones don't. This is when a motorist is following you down a hill when you are closer to top speed, then you hit another hill going up and your speed drops rapidly. But I never use it there, I'm keeping my hands more in control.

Still, I like the idea of communicating with motorists and making my intentions clear.
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Old 06-29-06, 08:51 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mel_bikes
Started to yell at me an this old lady who saw the whole thing chewed him up one side and down the other for speeding and not paying attention. I just left with her yelling at him.
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Old 06-29-06, 09:10 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genec
Depends on the bike I ride... one has a mirror, the other does not. I do use the hand signal and find it generally works. It may not work for the first motorist, but generally I get a response.
Hmm. I don't think I ever use the "slow" hand signal except when someone is right behind me. In that case, if the first motorist does not respond, I'm dead.

What's the purpose of issuing the slow hand signal when you're off to the side anyway?
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Old 06-29-06, 09:14 AM   #15
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I started using the Slow sign when riding with a bunch of new riders who might not realize I stop at more stop signs than most.
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Old 06-29-06, 09:23 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Hmm. I don't think I ever use the "slow" hand signal except when someone is right behind me. In that case, if the first motorist does not respond, I'm dead.

What's the purpose of issuing the slow hand signal when you're off to the side anyway?


interesting.......and unrealistic.

the 'slow signal' can come into play in full command of a traffic lane, wide outside lane, unstriped gravel roadway or velo transit lane.

Drivers behind you can still ignore any redumacating or notion dispelling that is trying to be done, and the end result is not instant death if a driver ignores your slow/stop signals.

Your wildly unrealistic "they get it or i'm dead" comment makes me wonder how much you actually ride your bike, helmet head.

Last edited by Bekologist; 06-29-06 at 09:29 AM.
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Old 06-29-06, 09:35 AM   #17
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Bek,

I'm not following. If someone is behind you, they are either traveling slower than you, faster than you, or the same speed.

If they're not traveling faster than you, why issue the slow signal?

if they're traveling faster than you, they're behind you, you issue the slow signal, and they don't respond (to your slow signal), how do they not hit you?
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Old 06-29-06, 09:41 AM   #18
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I wear a mirror on my glasses and use the 45 degree angle "slow" signal when riding narrow 2 lane roads when there is oncoming traffic and a car approaching from behind. Some people just can't be bothered to slow down for a couple of seconds and will continue the pass in the converging traffic situation but many will take the hint and allow the oncoming traffic to clear before making the pass.
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Old 06-29-06, 09:47 AM   #19
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I'll use a "keep back" signal on rural roads. I don't signal "slowing" much, if at all. In the city, I'll briefly signal left or right when I make lane changes or turns. I'll also direct traffic a bit to create a hole for myself if I need to merge into a busy traffic stream to get to the left turn center lane.
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Old 06-29-06, 09:55 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Bek,

I'm not following.
uh, yeah, that much is abundantly clear. need help getting the armchair jumpstarted this morning?

lets see, you can signal when you are slowing for an upcoming traffic hazard. lots of drivers cross cyclists unsafely on the double yellow when they are claiming more of a lane to avoid an upcoming traffic hazard. I'm in the middle of a travel lane and drivers will barrel past across the double yellow into the face of oncoming traffic. But this never happens to mr head.

and telling me, head, that you are ALWAYS in the middle of the travel lane on a roadway and hence avoid ALL upcoming hazards is an unrealiztic responce, anyone who has ever had a driver pull out in front of them knows the presence of suddenly appearing traffic hazards.

I guess the nuance of blacktop and the macadam tarmac is lost in the pillowy comforts of the armchair cycling world.
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Old 06-29-06, 10:21 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bekologist
uh, yeah, that much is abundantly clear. need help getting the armchair jumpstarted this morning?
Perhaps. Can someone else translate this for me?


Quote:
lets see, you can signal when you are slowing for an upcoming traffic hazard.
Sure. And I do so presumably because someone is behind me gong my speed or faster. if someone is behind me going my speed, and I slow down, and they don't, how do they not hit me?


Quote:
lots of drivers cross cyclists unsafely on the double yellow when they are claiming more of a lane to avoid an upcoming traffic hazard.
What does "cross cyclists unsafely on the double yellow" mean? Do you mean "PASS cyclists unsafely by crossing the double yellow"? If that's what you mean, yes, I've experienced that, but I don't understand the relevance of having this experience to our slow signal discussion about a non-response from someone behind you who is moving faster resulting in you being hit.


Quote:
I'm in the middle of a travel lane and drivers will barrel past across the double yellow into the face of oncoming traffic. But this never happens to mr head.
What on Earth did I say that makes you think this never happens to me?


Quote:
and telling me, head, that you are ALWAYS in the middle of the travel lane on a roadway and hence avoid ALL upcoming hazards is an unrealiztic responce,
I have no idea what you're responding to here, or what you're trying to say.


Quote:
anyone who has ever had a driver pull out in front of them knows the presence of suddenly appearing traffic hazards.
What does this have to do with using the slow signal?


Quote:
I guess the nuance of blacktop and the macadam tarmac is lost in the pillowy comforts of the armchair cycling world.
Huh?
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Old 06-29-06, 10:29 AM   #22
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huh? is right? the nuance of the blacktop not seen from the black and white absolutism of your armchair perch, head?


and the phrase 'macadam tarmac' just rolls off the tounge so smoothly, doesn't it?
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Old 06-29-06, 10:38 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head

if they're traveling faster than you, they're behind you, you issue the slow signal, and they don't respond (to your slow signal), how do they not hit you?
Maybe these inattentive drivers drift to the right and hit somebody else on the sidewalk?
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Old 06-29-06, 10:47 AM   #24
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I usually dont tend to slow down unless I'm turning, in which case I make a turning signal until I turn.
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Old 06-29-06, 10:59 AM   #25
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I don't think I ever use the slow signal to indicate I'm slowing down. I use it more like when I tap the brake pedal in my car to cause the brake lights to flash to get a tailgater to back off.

Motorists are often uncertain what to do when they encounter a cyclist up ahead in their lane. Given the unpredictable behavior of many cyclists, they get nervous. A slow signal is a very useful way to quickly and efficiently communicate all of the following:
  • I know you're behind me.
  • I know what I'm doing.
  • I'm not unpredictable.
  • At least for the moment, I'm not getting out of your way.
  • When it's safe and reasonable to pass me, I'll let you know.
  • You don't need to be nervous.
  • Back off (if you're too close).

I would be oblivious to the usefulness of the ability of the slow signal to be able to accomplish all that if I did not use a mirror.
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