Low-Speed Lane Changes
Imagine yourself riding near the curb on a multi-lane highway in heavy traffic. You see ahead a lot of cars flashing for a right turn, and you suspect that it is a slow right tur that is holding up traffic. Naturally you want to move from near the curb into that line of traffic before you reach the point where they turn across your path. If possible, you would like to get into the next lane over, where traffic moves steadily instead of in starts and stops.
You can't just move left - there is a solid line of cars backed up. So you must persuade some motorist to let you in. You ride about 2 feet from the line of cars at their speed, and position yourself next to the gap between two of them. As you ride, you must watch the car ahead. If the car moves right, or moves right and slows down to park, you must avoid it.
Start alternating your glance from the back of the car ahead to the front of the car behind. Turn your head quickly and look to its driver, then back to the car ahead, then back to the driver behind you. That driver has seen you, all right - the distance between your faces is no more than 8 feet - and your position, speed, and questioning look have told him that you want to get in front.
You have now asked the question "will you let me in?" Notice that you have obeyed the spirit of the vehicle code while disregarding its specific requirement to make the left-arm signal. You have notified the only driver you affect by moving to the proper starting position and looking at him. There are two reasons why this way is better than using the arm signal
. First, looking behind puts you in the position to receive an answer, whereas the arm signal makes looking harder. Getting the answer is what will save your life, not making the signal. Second, the traffic situation might suddenly require both hands on the handlebars and brakes, which makes you discontinue a hand signal even though you still want to move left. Even though you may resume the signal, you have conveyed the undesired message of irresolution and incompetence, when you wanted to convince the driver that you know what you want to do and how to do it, and that you will do it in an expert manner.