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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: Do you signal stops while riding in traffic?
Frequently or Always 7 13.21%
Sometimes 16 30.19%
Infrequently or Never 30 56.60%
Voters: 53. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-10-08, 11:46 AM   #1
JohnBrooking
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Signal stops riding on street?

Just curious. I'm talking transportational riding on roads, not group rides. I think it would be useful to cars behind me if I did, but my hands are usually too busy braking. I read on Sheldon Brown's site that he has experimented with switching brakes so that the front is operated by his right hand, leaving his left more free to signal, but concluded that it was probably more dangerous to people who might borrow his bike and not expect it.
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Old 01-10-08, 11:52 AM   #2
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I do only if it is really needed. In those cases I can do it before I start slowing hard and in those cases I 'bring' the following vehicle to a slow stop instead of me stopping quickly and relying on them to stop quickly behind me.

For example if a stop is ahead, am traveling at 20mph, I see a car approaching who would get to me just before my stop if I continued at 20mph and slowed hard for it. Instead I will begin slowing to 10-15mph and then when car reaches me I give slow signal as they get to me with room ahead to slowly decelerate into stop.

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Old 01-10-08, 12:05 PM   #3
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you should ask helmet head, it sounds like he's always waving his hands around in traffic in attempts to communicate with the motorists behind him. (well, when and if he's actually riding, that is. its not a daily, ingrained behavior for him I'd imagine. Those of us that are seasoned, grizzled transportational bicyclists might have a more accurate read on actual traffic bicycling dynamics)

I don't have a problem throwing a brake hand signal out while braking with the right, then regrabbling the bars and braking hard with both hands if needed. And I live in quite the hilly city.

I suggest a more aggressive, hand slapping backwards "BACK OFF" signal rather than politely holding your arm out and down for 200 feet.

Just wave 'em off with the "BACK OFF" hand signal.

Last edited by Bekologist; 01-10-08 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 01-10-08, 12:10 PM   #4
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After taking the LAB BikeEd course, I started signaling a stop more often then not, and always when I know there's a car behind me (unless I really need both hands to brake, then I'll try to signal early, and then hit the brakes).

My perception is that it "signals" to the following car that:
  • you really know what you're doing
  • that you're actually preparing to stop at a stop sign
  • (and that you know that you're taking up the whole lane )
The number of cars honking and/or yelling at me dropped significantly.

I hold the hand out there for as long as possible.

On the flip side, I now get completely infuriated when a car then proceeds to try and pass me after I've taken the lane and am signaling the stop. This usually ends up with me in the middle of the lane at the stop sign, and the car in the oncoming lane, stopped at the intersection with me yelling, "What do you think you're doing?!?!"
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Old 01-10-08, 12:21 PM   #5
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funny how that works, isn't it, gazer? You can ride in a LAB approved vehicular manner, and some motorists will STILL disrespect you on the road.

I mention that repeatedly in this forum. now we have a report from a bonifide LAB trained vehicular bicyclist that despite your most vehicular operation, some motorists are out their violating your right of way REGARDLESS of lane position or signals, etc. sounds like it happens often.

do you see that, helemt head? one of your contemporaries experiences the same boorish behavior from motorists I describe on this forum repeatedly.
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Old 01-10-08, 12:30 PM   #6
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I think signaling a stop does help sometimes. This morning I had a car driver behind me flash his lights as we approached a stop sign. I guess he thought this would make me move over to allow him to pass, even though we were less than a hundred feet or so from the intersection. I looked back, signaled a stop, and stayed centered in the lane. This way there was no confusion about what I was going to do. I find the slow /stop signal useful for when I want THEM to slow or stay back, like when approaching a blind curve.

I see little reason to swap levers. The rear brake alone is good enough for normal traffic stops if I'm planning on using a left arm signal. I'm not stopping quickly in front of cars if I can avoid it.

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Old 01-10-08, 12:30 PM   #7
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I don't bother, because at lights/stop signs I stop very slowly (such that a car isn't going to rear-end me). At turns, I signal well in advance, and also try to take the turn with some speed so that any cars behind me don't underestimate my braking.

I've never quite understood Sheldon's argument there. On a bike there's absolutely no point in doing all your signalling left-handed as there is in a car since you're not, well, in a car. I think drivers are much more likely to understand an outstretched right hand.
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Old 01-10-08, 12:41 PM   #8
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funny how that works, isn't it, gazer? You can ride in a LAB approved vehicular manner, and some motorists will STILL disrespect you on the road.

I mention that repeatedly in this forum. now we have a report from a bonifide LAB trained vehicular bicyclist that despite your most vehicular operation, some motorists are out their violating your right of way REGARDLESS of lane position or signals, etc. sounds like it happens often.

do you see that, helemt head? one of your contemporaries experiences the same boorish behavior from motorists I describe on this forum repeatedly.
Bek the same thing happens to me, and yes I too am LAB trained (took one class with HH).

And to be frank with you... it is one thing that really irritates me... there I am doing everything right and some knuckle dragging driver does everything wrong... apparently simply because I am on a bike.

Yeah, the LAB classes are not a pass to only deal with smart drivers.

BTW I have never had a motorist do this to me while driving, even though I drive like an old man. (I coast to stops... rather than gunning to the light and slamming on the brakes... as I see so many other drivers do... )
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Old 01-10-08, 12:49 PM   #9
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I'm sure it happens to ALL of us, genec- even helemt head -although you'd never see him admit it in here! his propagandistic spiel compells him to misinform to perpetuate vehicular bicycling.
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Old 01-10-08, 01:03 PM   #10
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I'll usually only do it when taking the lane and in cases where my stop isn't already obvious, or when I'm feeling like I need to be even more by-the-book than usual.
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Old 01-10-08, 02:41 PM   #11
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If I do signal for a stop or a turn, I do so before actually braking. While braking hard or simply on a descent, I want both hands on the bars, even if I am using only the front (left) brake. I find slow/stop hand signals useful in a group ride, although sometimes it's easier just to announce one's intent vocally.

As for signalling a right turn, I emphatically prefer an outstretched right arm over the left arm pointing toward the sky.
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Old 01-10-08, 03:02 PM   #12
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As cyclists are to stick to the side of the road in VA, I only take the lane when no one is around. I very seriously and sadly doubt any noticeable portion of drivers around here know what the "stop" signal means. I was taught and advocate riding as if no one can see you, but I do signal turns. I also ride a fixed-gear with one brake, so signaling a stop seems somewhat hazardous.
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Old 01-10-08, 03:14 PM   #13
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I signal stops sometimes, but really I like to brake with both hands. My front brake pads work too well, and if I'm not very careful it locks up the front tire, so I try and slow down with the rear and dab at the front.
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Old 01-10-08, 05:09 PM   #14
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I try not to stop, so no I don't signal stops. I try to time my riding to avoid slowing down as much as possible. When I do stop, its at a very obvious place, like a stop light or (rarely) a stop sign, where cars already expect you to stop.

Occasionally, I will signal a stop if there is something unexpected in traffic ahead that I have to slow for, but I do it mostly to warn drivers in back of whats ahead.

The only situation I could see signalling a stop is if I were making a left turn and I had to wait for oncoming traffic to clear before making the turn. Even in that situation, I would just signal a left hand turn. Instead of signalling a stop for no apparent reason, if you signal left, drivers in back of you will then know why you are stopping in the middle of the street.
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Old 01-10-08, 06:44 PM   #15
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As cyclists are to stick to the side of the road in VA, I only take the lane when no one is around. I very seriously and sadly doubt any noticeable portion of drivers around here know what the "stop" signal means. I was taught and advocate riding as if no one can see you, but I do signal turns. I also ride a fixed-gear with one brake, so signaling a stop seems somewhat hazardous.
No state has a law requiring cyclists to stick to the side of the road at all times. I can't find Virginia's vehicle code (I didn't try too hard either so maybe later I will) but I'm certain that the wording allows a cyclist to use a full lane when necessary.

As to the topic of this thread, I don't think I've ever signalled that I'm braking. I'm always slowing at obvious spots (red lights, stops signs) or signalling a turn or going so slow that it doesn't matter if the guy behind realizes immediately that I'm slowing.

I have given a "back-off" signal to tailgaters though, a sort of pushing back hand motion. It usually works.
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Old 01-10-08, 06:54 PM   #16
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At times I do, if I am stopped waiting to turn left I will signal constantly because from a fast approaching cars point of view, it can't tell if or how fast I am moving.

If I am going to stop at an unlikely place or if I have judged a person incompetant by watching them in my mirror I will signal alot.

But most of the time, I am turning and not stopping, so I use turn signals.
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Old 01-10-08, 06:55 PM   #17
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As cyclists are to stick to the side of the road in VA, I only take the lane when no one is around. I very seriously and sadly doubt any noticeable portion of drivers around here know what the "stop" signal means. I was taught and advocate riding as if no one can see you, but I do signal turns. I also ride a fixed-gear with one brake, so signaling a stop seems somewhat hazardous.
I've ridden in Alexandria, Va. alot, rode aggressively, took the lane alot, and had no trouble at all.
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Old 01-10-08, 08:30 PM   #18
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If the situation dictates, I signal that I am stopping or slowing. It's just plain good manners in some cases...might save your butt in others, worthless as teats on a boar hawg in others.
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Old 01-10-08, 08:50 PM   #19
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If the situation dictates, I signal that I am stopping or slowing. It's just plain good manners in some cases...might save your butt in others, worthless as teats on a boar hawg in others.
'Bout covers it.
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Old 01-10-08, 08:53 PM   #20
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I don't signal for a stops, maybe I should, but I do slow down at a reasonable speed while controlling the lane. My main concern lately is not being hit from the rear, but has been motorists crossing intersections in front of me and left hooks. Just tonight I had one of each occur on my commute, and I definitely needed both hands on the brakes. I did give the left hook motorist my backhand high five signal, since I feel he deserved more than one finger.
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Old 01-11-08, 06:38 AM   #21
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After taking the LAB BikeEd course, I started signaling a stop more often then not, and always when I know there's a car behind me (unless I really need both hands to brake, then I'll try to signal early, and then hit the brakes).

My perception is that it "signals" to the following car that:
  • you really know what you're doing
  • that you're actually preparing to stop at a stop sign
  • (and that you know that you're taking up the whole lane )
The number of cars honking and/or yelling at me dropped significantly.

I hold the hand out there for as long as possible.

On the flip side, I now get completely infuriated when a car then proceeds to try and pass me after I've taken the lane and am signaling the stop. This usually ends up with me in the middle of the lane at the stop sign, and the car in the oncoming lane, stopped at the intersection with me yelling, "What do you think you're doing?!?!"
Why on earth would you insist on taking the lane if you are going to stop? Pull to the right curb and stop, period. Let the car do whatever it will.

Surely you can safely share the road while you are standing still, yes?

If you are bone-headed enough to insist on sitting out in the middle of the lane, cars should not try to pass you at a stop, but it sounds to me as though you are inviting confrontation.

I don't remember ever having signaled a stop. I think stop signals are for traffic moving in close formation where sudden stops might be necessary - not something the ordinary bike rider needs to do very often.

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Old 01-11-08, 06:53 AM   #22
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If I'm on a high speed roaad where cars are doing around 40-50mph, and I wanna stop at the sidewalk, then I'll signal my intention.
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Old 01-11-08, 10:53 AM   #23
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Why on earth would you insist on taking the lane if you are going to stop? Pull to the right curb and stop, period. Let the car do whatever it will.
  • Tracey Sparling
  • Brett Jarolimek

That was just from one month in one city.

If you let the car do whatever it will, it will run over you.
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Old 01-11-08, 11:17 AM   #24
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On a bike there's absolutely no point in doing all your signalling left-handed as there is in a car since you're not, well, in a car. I think drivers are much more likely to understand an outstretched right hand.

Your left hand is in the driver's line of sight. Using your right hand to signal (at least in the U.S.) would basically mean your telling parked cars and pedestrians what you're doing.
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Old 01-11-08, 11:37 AM   #25
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  • Tracey Sparling
  • Brett Jarolimek

That was just from one month in one city.

If you let the car do whatever it will, it will run over you.
Is that the bottom line of what you learned in the LAB BikeEd course?
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