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  1. #1
    Senior Member RomSpaceKnight's Avatar
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    Hand signals and keeping up

    I have a tendency to indicate my right turns by extending my right arm not the proper way by bending left arm at elbow. Any one else even bother to signal? The left turn signal cutting across to the turn lane is a no brainer, right?

    Commuting to work by bike not recommended unless you can keep up with flow of traffic, or so I have heard. No way I can do more tha 25 mph commuting ususally do 16 mph (on mtb). I figure means being able to cut across lanes to get in position to make safe and legal turn without holding up traffic. I see people who look like they are commuting yet cannot get across a lane and into the left turn lane without a whole lot of wobbles, and half hearted aborted attempts. I so love my barend rear view mirror. I can see behind me better than on my motorcycle (rice burner crotch rocket). Gives me huge confidence to attempt crossing lanes. Even just being able to see cars coming from behind is awesome.

  2. #2
    the commutor / tourer mcavana's Avatar
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    you don't use that crap (left arm bent signaling right turn) when on a bike. You should point the way you wish to turn with the coresponding hand (ie. turn right, point with right hand. turn left point with left hand)

    That bending elbow on left arm to signal right turn crap is only for cagers... They obviously can't stick there right hand out the passanger window to signal....

    My general rule, if there is a car anywhere near you, signal. It is a common courtesy.


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    For left turns on busy streets I watch in my mirror for traffic gaps created by the traffic lights and then get to the middle of the road, even if this may be more than 100 yards before the turning. Cars passing on my right dont seem to be bothered by me.

  4. #4
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RomSpaceKnight
    I have a tendency to indicate my right turns by extending my right arm not the proper way by bending left arm at elbow. Any one else even bother to signal? The left turn signal cutting across to the turn lane is a no brainer, right?
    In my state (Pa - USA) they both are legal. I used to use the bent left arm but most of the cagers don't get it. They think I'm waving 'Hi'.

    Sometimes they don't understand any hand signal. Iíve started to simulate the blink of a signal by opening and closing my hand, or rotating my wrist to swing my palm up and down. Anything to get the point across.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  5. #5
    Weapons grade stupidity wneumann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcavana
    That bending elbow on left arm to signal right turn crap is only for cagers...
    Except that depending on their position relative to yours (and/or the strength their powers of observation), a driver won't necessarily be able to see you extending your right arm (or figure out what it is that you're doing). Granted, it's probably a minimal danger, but it's something to be aware of.

    And yeah... I pretty much always signal unless I know there are no cars nearby (and even then I often signal, out of habit).
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    I guess I really should start signaling, I never do.

  7. #7
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    I rarely signal - mainly because if I'm making a left I've already checked to see that it's clear.

    Occasionally, if I'm going to be making a right, and people are waiting for me to pass to pull out from that side road, I'll signal as a courtesy. I always end up feeling stupid though because to date noone seems to understand the signal. At least noone has actually pulled out. If nothing else, it's a good sign that they're noticing me.

    ----

    As far as speed... the faster I'm going, the safer I feel. It reduces closing speeds and seems to make the drivers less twitchy when passing. Lately I've been on a MTB with slicks. Speeds range from 16mph uphill to mid 30's down, with a flat cruising speed around 20-21. I'd like to pickup some more speed (meaning a different bike), but my roads aren't favorable and I'd probably be sacrificing some durability to do it. I'll eventually build a dedicated commuter once I figure out exactly what it is that i want.

    I would definitely suggest trying out some different tires if you can.. They should easily buy you a few MPH. Regardless, I think you're still probably at an acceptable speed.

  8. #8
    Yabba-Dabba-Doo! AlmostTrick's Avatar
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    Almost two out of three BF respondents preferred using the right arm for right turn signals.

    Which right turn signal do you use?

    As for speed, I agree that it can help in many situations. I feel safer when I'm riding closer to traffic speed.
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  9. #9
    Sneetch Glottus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffS
    Lately I've been on a MTB with slicks. Speeds range from 16mph uphill to mid 30's down, with a flat cruising speed around 20-21. I'd like to pickup some more speed


    's pretty good already.

    I try to signal as often as possible (left arm bent for right-hand turns), but I have a few spots on my regular route where I don't feel as in-control among the cages when I don't have both hands on the bars, so I rely a bit more on body-language/position/faith to get my message across 'bout what I'm aiming to do. And that's even at my regular speeds of about 18-22 mph. (I'm in town with a lotta stop signs & such, VERY few straight-aways where I feel I can actually get a good rollin' goin'.)

    [EDIT] One thing I DO wish is that more bike glove makers would include some better reflectivity to the backs of their wares. Just today I was biking home wishing I had the sewing skillz to add some durable reflective tape to the backs of my gloves in arrow shapes, the stem starting at the wrist and the point at the base of my middle finger. That way, when signaling at night with my preferred hand position (sort of a karate chop), there'd be a nice shiny arrow helpin' the cagers make sense of my ways ('cept, of course, those confused by my intention to go up, what with my left arm pointing skyward). Guess that'd only work for the folks coming up behind me. That and it always seems to me that pretty much all manufacturers of all gear skimp on the reflective piping/tape. What I wouldn't give to have some decent gear with LOTS of reflective area and nice bright colors everywhere else. I don't WANNA be a ninja biker... [/EDIT]
    Last edited by Glottus; 10-26-06 at 09:21 PM.
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  10. #10
    Full-Time Commuter
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    Usually I signal when going left, arm out, but I try to time my lane changes to coincide with traffic breaks, so I'm normally signalling for my own piece of mind.
    2006 GT Avalanche Disc 3.0 /// 198x? Miyata One Ten
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  11. #11
    Commuter First newbojeff's Avatar
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    I use the bent left arm to signal right most of the time, especially when I'm riding towards the right in traffic. I also use it when I'm temporarily holding up traffic with a single finger extended (the pointer finger, not the middle!) to indicate both a rightward move and, "I know you're there, hold on one second and I'll be out of your way." When I'm anywhere there could be traffic on my right and I want to move right, like in a rotary, I signal right with my right arm.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glottus
    so I rely a bit more on body-language/position/faith to get my message across 'bout what I'm aiming to do.
    That's what I try to do most of the time.

  13. #13
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    When I'm turning or moving laterally in traffic, what I'm most concerned about is someone busting a move to pass me just as I make my move. If I'm moving right, I want people on my right to know, so I signal with my right hand.

    Agreed that speed helps in negotiating traffic.
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  14. #14
    BF's Level 12 Wizard SingingSabre's Avatar
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    I use my left hand for all signals...been doing it since I was a cub scout. Right hand works and is legal, though.
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  15. #15
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    i use my left hand to point behind my back to signal right sometimes, just to keep things lively.

    -Glottus, get yourself to an industrial safety supply store for good quality reflective gloves and gear. that's what most serious commuters wind up doing. there's some GREAT reflective gloves out there for traffic safety applications....
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  16. #16
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeR
    In my state (Pa - USA) they both are legal. I used to use the bent left arm but most of the cagers don't get it. They think I'm waving 'Hi'.
    It is still always worth signalling. Once, I didn't signal on a rural highway when I was 11. A speeding motorcyclist who did not anticipate my turn made a valiant effort to avoid me. In the resulting 60mph crash, I only received some burns and minor scarring. He, on the other hand, lost control of the bike, flipped it end over end several times after leaving the road and wound up severely injured. His first words when he regained consciousness were to inquire about the kid he thought he hit. I'll never forget Pat (the guy who hit me almost 30 years ago) or to signal properly.

  17. #17
    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    Hand signals, for the most part, are an anachronism since the law required autos to have turn signals. Consequently, it's unrealistic to assume any driver knows them. Pointing (using a clear gesture that can't be mistaken for something else) is hard to misinterpret. For slowing, stopping, or don't-pass-now, I use my left hand with something similar to the official hand signal, but with fingers spread.... sort of the universal "stay back" sign.

  18. #18
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I'm waving my hands around like ground crew parking jets at the airport sometimes...

    both hands off the bars, hands chopping my desired direction "I'm going THATAWAY"

    Even subtle hand signals get understood by pedestrians or a driver thats looking. once you make eye contact with a driver or a ped, you can actually point if you're going ahead or behind them, where you're going in a five way stop scenario and other nuances.

    I also combine a 'ticklefingers' motion with 'the finger of yield' when I need lane clearance from overtaking traffic.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  19. #19
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    Like Bekologist, I look like a traffic cop out there. Also, I don't wear sunglasses because I always try to make eye contact with drivers. Another trick I've learned is to slightly move my fingers and hand when my arms are extended...movement attracts attention.

  20. #20
    Senior Member kylecrispin's Avatar
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    On the official San Francisco Bike Map it has diagrams of the proper signals to use and I was suprised to find that the bent arm for a right turn was not listed. Turning left point left, turning right point right. When I am out and about I just point where I am going to turn. I sit up a bit and point with a nice straight arm for a good long while. Remember that in a car your signal is only legal if it starts at a certain distance before the turn. I see people signaling while they are turning on both bikes and cars.

  21. #21
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    I try to always signal and I use the right arm extended for right turns. I'm a pessimist when it comes to the intelligence of the average person, so I believe using a left arm to signal a right turn is likely to confuse them. At least with using your right arm you are pointing in the direction you are intending to go. Ofcourse I've had several drivers behind me ignore my left turn indications and pull out to pass me on my left as I am trying to turn left.
    It is easier to deal with traffic and changing lanes to turn left if you are traveling at a speed closer to the other vehicles but it is not necessary. On faster multi-lane roads I will often turn right onto a side street, do a U turn and then cross the larger road instead of trying to cross lanes and make a left turn. I do this quite often on one intersection on my commute as the road is a 4 lane 35mph road and I would have to sit in the left lane before I can make the turn. I will usually make the left turn on clear days, but if its raining or after dark I take a right then wait for traffic to clear before crossing the road.
    Craig

  22. #22
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glottus
    [EDIT] One thing I DO wish is that more bike glove makers would include some better reflectivity to the backs of their wares. Just today I was biking home wishing I had the sewing skillz to add some durable reflective tape to the backs of my gloves in arrow shapes, the stem starting at the wrist and the point at the base of my middle finger. That way, when signaling at night with my preferred hand position (sort of a karate chop), there'd be a nice shiny arrow helpin' the cagers make sense of my ways ('cept, of course, those confused by my intention to go up, what with my left arm pointing skyward). Guess that'd only work for the folks coming up behind me. That and it always seems to me that pretty much all manufacturers of all gear skimp on the reflective piping/tape. What I wouldn't give to have some decent gear with LOTS of reflective area and nice bright colors everywhere else. I don't WANNA be a ninja biker... [/EDIT]
    I wear a helmet light when I ride at night. When I make a turn, I use the light to illuminate my hand as I signal. My hand lights up but the beam of the light also signals the drivers behind me that something is up and they pay attention.
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  23. #23
    ...addicted... rocks in head's Avatar
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    I signal with left arm bent for right turns. my grandfather taught me that stuff when about 9 so I've been using it ever since. Kind of outdated, but whatever. I do get funny looks when signalling a right. I hold out my arm when I move from the right 1/4 of the lane to the center, just so nobody tries to pass me until I get back over.

    When you've got heavy traffic and it's moving fast, it's very helpful to be able to keep up. I ride in mostly sparse traffic, and the one time I have to get across 2 lanes to the turn lane I usually have a clear road behind me. I sometimes signal, sometimes not when I know there are no cars behind me. I'm only going 15 at that point (after a killer hill) and the cars are usually going 35-40. (but most slow when they see me)
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  24. #24
    Electrical Hazard
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    I signal with my left arm only. It makes sense for me since my brake lever is on the right grip. Most of the drivers around here seem to get it, and if they don't .. well, I guess they're just used to cyclists not signalling.

  25. #25
    domestique squeakywheel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RomSpaceKnight
    I have a tendency to indicate my right turns by extending my right arm not the proper way by bending left arm at elbow.
    ...
    I do the same as you. Only do it when I can see someone is yielding assuming I'm going straight. Otherwise, I don't bother. If they're nice enought to wait, I'll be nice enough to let them know they don't have to because I'm turning. I just point right with my right arm. If I held up my bent left arm, they'd probably just assume I was waving at them and wonder where they knew me from.

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