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Hand signals?

Old 07-20-19, 05:15 AM
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Hand signals?

So I was passing a couple - guy in front and a woman behind him. As I was coming up on her left and passing, she did what I took to be a signal - tapped her left top of her thigh then pointed downward. I just rode by. Was she telling me I could pass on the left?
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Old 07-20-19, 05:23 AM
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I've found that if a rider is pointing downward, they are pointing to something that you may want to avoid. Pothole, part of a broken branch, piece of glass, etc. No idea what it means along with tapping to top of the thigh.
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Old 07-20-19, 05:28 AM
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Yes, pointing down usually means something to go around.
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Old 07-20-19, 06:25 AM
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I've been riding for 40 yrs and I have no idea what that means. I agree that pointing down means there's something in the road to be avoided.
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Old 07-20-19, 06:34 AM
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I agree with what has already been written. She was pointing to something on the ground. I don't tap my thigh but I point to the ground and shake my hand trying to get the attention of riders behind me if I spot something on the ground.
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Old 07-20-19, 08:47 AM
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Numb hand. After you passed she probably shook it a bit.
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Old 07-20-19, 08:51 AM
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Trying to get your attention?
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Old 07-20-19, 09:48 AM
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I give up. Probably numb hands. I assumed she knew I was coming up by having a take-a-look mirror but didn't check / see it.
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Old 07-20-19, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by gios
So I was passing a couple - guy in front and a woman behind him. As I was coming up on her left and passing, she did what I took to be a signal - tapped her left top of her thigh then pointed downward. I just rode by. Was she telling me I could pass on the left?
Asking for a massage?

A level, exaggerated forward waving motion with the left hand, is the standard way of indicating " safe to go around me on the left."

Ok?
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Old 07-20-19, 10:25 AM
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I was behind a guy on a group ride once. We approached a right turn and he held up his left hand and and raised his fist to the sky. I was quite perplexed until I realized he was giving the (correct) hand signal for a right turn while driving a car. Never seen a cyclist do that, though. I think he was new.
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Old 07-20-19, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by JasonD67
I was behind a guy on a group ride once. We approached a right turn and he held up his left hand and and raised his fist to the sky. I was quite perplexed until I realized he was giving the (correct) hand signal for a right turn while driving a car. Never seen a cyclist do that, though. I think he was new.
I don't see a lot of cyclists using hand signals, but on the occasional group ride I've done, it is about 50/50, or perhaps 30/70 on using the right or left hand to do right turn signals.

Of course, some of those group rides are with the over-50 crowd.

Last edited by CliffordK; 07-20-19 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 07-20-19, 11:03 AM
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I use hand signals for turn indicators when cars are present. Today, I gave the ol' right turn signal with my left arm when I came up to an intersection where I had no stop sign and the car at that intersection did have a stop sign.

It goes back to my motorcycle days and your right hand is for the throttle and front brake. Due to motorcycles, I always move my front brake lever to the right handlebar.

Motorcycle hand signals in the webpage below.
5 Things to Keep in Mind when Motorcycle Group Riding ? Motorcycle Central
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Old 07-20-19, 11:10 AM
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I have wondered about the difference of using right vs left for right turns. Using the arm on the "road side" may be more visible to vehicles, although pointing where one is wishing to turn is very clear to everyone.

I'd use both arms, but I don't like riding without hands (an experiment gone wrong many years ago).

I usually only signal right when it would "make a difference". Cars pulling out of a road I'm turning into, cars coming up from behind, and could make the turn around me, etc.

For left turns, I usually verify the path is clear before making my move, but still am more likely to use a left signal if there are cars somewhere back there.
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Old 07-20-19, 11:18 AM
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Patting the hip, by some "serious" roadies, means go ahead and draft. Pointing down may have been her embellishment giving you permission to move up closer.

I'd have taken it to be a request to stay behind for now. But personally, when I'm not riding with your group I don't care much about your signals and I don't take direction at all - my judgment is almost always better than a random group rider's is. I'd have done the same thing you did. Just pass and quickly get clear of whatever it is that they had going on.
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Old 07-20-19, 11:26 AM
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That is the universal signal for passing gas and to avoid the area. She was doing you a huge favor.
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Old 07-20-19, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton
Patting the hip, by some "serious" roadies, means go ahead and draft. Pointing down may have been her embellishment giving you permission to move up closer.
I agree - the hip/thigh tap might have been a permission to draft signal.

The pointing might have been a standard road hazard signal. If I'm just riding along on some road and see another cyclist not too far back, I start pointing out hazards and gravel - because 1) I care about my fellow cyclists, and 2) it shows that I'm aware of their presence and 'serious' enough that they can choose to pass, or draft, without worrying that I'm going to erratically move off my line.

People I ride with signal - a lot. Then again, we have a lot of hazards, and we also like to demonstrate that the vast majority of cyclists are law-abiding citizens who follow the rules of the road.
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Old 07-20-19, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonD67
I was behind a guy on a group ride once. We approached a right turn and he held up his left hand and and raised his fist to the sky. I was quite perplexed until I realized he was giving the (correct) hand signal for a right turn while driving a car. Never seen a cyclist do that, though. I think he was new.
Damn. You must be as old as me. You remember hand signals for cars? Wow.
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Old 07-20-19, 12:50 PM
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I've always just pointed with the arm on that side to which I'm turning. I don't think 98% of drivers or other cyclists have any idea that a raised left arm means a right turn.
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Old 07-20-19, 01:18 PM
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MN Bike handbook hand signal page:
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Hand sig.pdf (1.74 MB, 26 views)
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Old 07-20-19, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonD67
I've always just pointed with the arm on that side to which I'm turning. I don't think 98% of drivers or other cyclists have any idea that a raised left arm means a right turn.
Even if they do know a raised 90deg bend left arm means turn right- it's an unnecessary signal for cyclists.
Drivers needed to do it because their left arm was the only one available to stick out a window for signal visibility.
A cyclist doesnt have that issue.


I ride with a youth mentor program where there are 35 teens and a couple dozen adults. We teach hand signals each year at the start and officially teach that either a left arm up or a right arm pointed right is acceptable. I silently pout each year though. Left arm up for cycling is unnecessary.
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Old 07-20-19, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonD67
I was behind a guy on a group ride once. We approached a right turn and he held up his left hand and and raised his fist to the sky. I was quite perplexed until I re

alized he was giving the (correct) hand signal for a right turn while driving a car. Never seen a cyclist do that, though. I think he was new.

Was he wearing a helmet and was his bike wearing a kickstand?
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Old 07-20-19, 11:47 PM
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You should have just asked her what she meant.
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Old 07-21-19, 02:36 AM
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Originally Posted by JasonD67
I've always just pointed with the arm on that side to which I'm turning. I don't think 98% of drivers or other cyclists have any idea that a raised left arm means a right turn.
Originally Posted by mstateglfr
Even if they do know a raised 90deg bend left arm means turn right- it's an unnecessary signal for cyclists.
Drivers needed to do it because their left arm was the only one available to stick out a window for signal visibility.
A cyclist doesnt have that issue.


I ride with a youth mentor program where there are 35 teens and a couple dozen adults. We teach hand signals each year at the start and officially teach that either a left arm up or a right arm pointed right is acceptable. I silently pout each year though. Left arm up for cycling is unnecessary.
Wouldn't be surprised if many drivers have no idea what a "left hand raised" means since many haven't a clue about proper driving. POINTING pretty much is self explanatory.

TAPPING BUTT can also mean the same as flicking fingers or flicking arm = I'm done pulling. POINTING after the tap could indicate to pass on this side.
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Old 07-21-19, 03:41 AM
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Originally Posted by JasonD67
I was behind a guy on a group ride once. We approached a right turn and he held up his left hand and and raised his fist to the sky. I was quite perplexed until I realized he was giving the (correct) hand signal for a right turn while driving a car. Never seen a cyclist do that, though. I think he was new.
That's how I was taught, and that's how I've done it for decades until fairly recently. Now I might do that, or I might do the pointing thing.
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Old 07-21-19, 04:00 AM
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I believe it is perfectly acceptable to just point in the direction you are turning with the arm/hand on the side in the direction you are turning. I also move the arm, from the elbow, up and down as approaching. I find that a lot of motorists wil nod or wave in thanks for signaling your intentions. I do it for myself and for the motorist. I do no signaling if there is no traffic.
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