Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > General Cycling Discussion
Reload this Page >

Cycling and hand signals

Notices
General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

Cycling and hand signals

Old 08-01-21, 04:17 PM
  #1  
Biketiger
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Albuquerque
Posts: 172

Bikes: Track bike: 1978 Speedwell titanium Road bike: 2001 Independent Fabrication

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 74 Post(s)
Liked 51 Times in 41 Posts
Cycling and hand signals

I am biking along a paved multi-use trail today and I see a rider coming towards me in the opposite lane. About 10 yards away he raises his right arm skyward. Clearly he is signaling a turn but I am confused as to which way. I'm thinking maybe he wants to go left which would cross my path but still at a safe distance. He turns to his right.
I appreciate his use of signals (most people don't) but I was really confused about the straight up arm. If he wanted to go right, why not just stick his arm out to the right? A signal anyone could accurately interpret.
It took me a minute to consider that while driving an automobile without a turn signal, the driver could stick out their left arm signaling a left hand turn but you can't point to the right so the raised arm is used instead.
But on a bike?
I did a little research and the League of American Bicylists recommends either method. From their site:
"Right Turn: Fully extend your right arm out to the side or bend your left arm up at a right angle with your hand flat."
That advice makes no sense to me. If I am making a left hand turn in front of you (assuming a safe distance) I will point left.
If I am going to the right, I'll point right. This straight up business defines ambiguity.
What do you think?
Biketiger is offline  
Likes For Biketiger:
Old 08-01-21, 04:26 PM
  #2  
genejockey 
Klaatu..Verata..Necktie?
 
genejockey's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 10,624

Bikes: Canyon Endurace, 105; Battaglin MAX, Chorus; Bianchi 928 Veloce; Ritchey Road Logic, Dura Ace; Cannondale R500 RX100; Schwinn Circuit, Sante; Lotus Supreme, Dura Ace

Mentioned: 34 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5749 Post(s)
Liked 5,967 Times in 3,066 Posts
This all goes back to the early days of automobiles. You signal with your left arm (in America) because it you were in a car with a top, that's the only arm other drives could see.

I signal right turns by pointing right, which I think is pretty unambiguous. But I see people using the 'left arm out, hand up' signal for right turns, too.
__________________
"Don't take life so serious-it ain't nohow permanent."

"Everybody's gotta be somewhere." - Eccles
genejockey is offline  
Old 08-01-21, 04:36 PM
  #3  
Ghazmh
Senior Member
 
Ghazmh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: The banks of the River Charles
Posts: 1,828

Bikes: 2022 Salsa Beargrease, 2020 Seven Evergreen, 2019 Honey Allroads Ti, 2018 Seven Redsky XX, 2017 Trek Boon 7, 2014 Trek 520

Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 610 Post(s)
Liked 691 Times in 386 Posts
I signal by positioning my right forearm parallel to the marching surface with my left hand extending skywards.
Ghazmh is offline  
Old 08-01-21, 04:45 PM
  #4  
Biketiger
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Albuquerque
Posts: 172

Bikes: Track bike: 1978 Speedwell titanium Road bike: 2001 Independent Fabrication

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 74 Post(s)
Liked 51 Times in 41 Posts
There you go. Or maybe we should all adopt the signals that aircraft marshals use :

Biketiger is offline  
Likes For Biketiger:
Old 08-01-21, 05:22 PM
  #5  
genejockey 
Klaatu..Verata..Necktie?
 
genejockey's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 10,624

Bikes: Canyon Endurace, 105; Battaglin MAX, Chorus; Bianchi 928 Veloce; Ritchey Road Logic, Dura Ace; Cannondale R500 RX100; Schwinn Circuit, Sante; Lotus Supreme, Dura Ace

Mentioned: 34 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5749 Post(s)
Liked 5,967 Times in 3,066 Posts
Originally Posted by Biketiger View Post
There you go. Or maybe we should all adopt the signals that aircraft marshals use :

Isn't that 'roughing the passer'?
__________________
"Don't take life so serious-it ain't nohow permanent."

"Everybody's gotta be somewhere." - Eccles
genejockey is offline  
Old 08-01-21, 05:26 PM
  #6  
unterhausen
Randomhead
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Happy Valley, Pennsylvania
Posts: 22,592
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked 2,153 Times in 1,533 Posts
I saw someone in a car using hand signals and had no idea what they were doing until they turned. I remember the last cyclist I saw using his left hand to signal a right turn, it was probably a decade ago. And he did a remarkably poor job of it
unterhausen is offline  
Old 08-01-21, 05:30 PM
  #7  
ThermionicScott 
working on my sandal tan
 
ThermionicScott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: CID
Posts: 21,909

Bikes: 1991 Bianchi Eros, 1964 Armstrong, 1988 Diamondback Ascent, 1988 Bianchi Premio, 1987 Bianchi Sport SX, 1980s Raleigh mixte (hers), All-City Space Horse (hers)

Mentioned: 95 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3555 Post(s)
Liked 1,949 Times in 1,245 Posts
Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
This all goes back to the early days of automobiles. You signal with your left arm (in America) because it you were in a car with a top, that's the only arm other drives could see.

I signal right turns by pointing right, which I think is pretty unambiguous. But I see people using the 'left arm out, hand up' signal for right turns, too.
I checked the League of American Bicyclists website just now, and was pleased to see that they've stepped into the current century at some point and now embrace the "point right to turn right" signal.

As much as I love archaic things, I don't want to trust my life to signals that require a history lesson to understand!

__________________
Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
Originally Posted by noglider
People in this forum are not typical.
RUSA #7498
ThermionicScott is online now  
Old 08-01-21, 05:37 PM
  #8  
genejockey 
Klaatu..Verata..Necktie?
 
genejockey's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 10,624

Bikes: Canyon Endurace, 105; Battaglin MAX, Chorus; Bianchi 928 Veloce; Ritchey Road Logic, Dura Ace; Cannondale R500 RX100; Schwinn Circuit, Sante; Lotus Supreme, Dura Ace

Mentioned: 34 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5749 Post(s)
Liked 5,967 Times in 3,066 Posts
Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
I checked the League of American Bicyclists website just now, and was pleased to see that they've stepped into the current century at some point and now embrace the "point right to turn right" signal.

As much as I love archaic things, I don't want to trust my life to signals that require a history lesson to understand!

Yeah, I signal my stops, because where I ride, there are 1) a lot of deputies lying in wait at T-intersections, and 2) a lot of cyclists blissfully unaware of 1), so I signal to prevent getting rolled over.
__________________
"Don't take life so serious-it ain't nohow permanent."

"Everybody's gotta be somewhere." - Eccles
genejockey is offline  
Likes For genejockey:
Old 08-01-21, 05:42 PM
  #9  
Biketiger
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Albuquerque
Posts: 172

Bikes: Track bike: 1978 Speedwell titanium Road bike: 2001 Independent Fabrication

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 74 Post(s)
Liked 51 Times in 41 Posts
The signal method from the league I referenced above is from their current site. They even include a nice video where they point out that the left arm signal held at a 90 degree angle is suggested to comply with some state laws.
https://bikeleague.org/content/signaling
Biketiger is offline  
Likes For Biketiger:
Old 08-01-21, 06:01 PM
  #10  
ThermionicScott 
working on my sandal tan
 
ThermionicScott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: CID
Posts: 21,909

Bikes: 1991 Bianchi Eros, 1964 Armstrong, 1988 Diamondback Ascent, 1988 Bianchi Premio, 1987 Bianchi Sport SX, 1980s Raleigh mixte (hers), All-City Space Horse (hers)

Mentioned: 95 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3555 Post(s)
Liked 1,949 Times in 1,245 Posts
Originally Posted by Biketiger View Post
The signal method from the league I referenced above is from their current site. They even include a nice video where they point out that the left arm signal held at a 90 degree angle is suggested to comply with some state laws.
https://bikeleague.org/content/signaling
D'oh, you're right, that was in your OP! I guess I still have leftover feelings about LAB pushing the bent-arm turn signal for so long.
__________________
Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
Originally Posted by noglider
People in this forum are not typical.
RUSA #7498
ThermionicScott is online now  
Old 08-01-21, 06:29 PM
  #11  
Rick
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 924
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 387 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 250 Times in 162 Posts
The signal with right arm extended for a right turn has ben in the UVC for over several decades. I have found it in the vehicle code or laws that govern the use in all states that I have lived in. I was confronted by an indigent deputy in Florida and told to do it the car way. He showed me his cheat sheet and the part which says a bicyclist may extend the right arm out was was missing from it. It took his supervisor and nearly an hour and a half for him to shut up and let me and my 10 year old son leave the seen of the crime.
Rick is offline  
Likes For Rick:
Old 08-01-21, 07:49 PM
  #12  
Korina
Happy banana slug
 
Korina's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Arcata, California, U.S., North America, Earth, Saggitarius Arm, Milky Way
Posts: 2,884

Bikes: 1984 Araya MB 261, 1992 Specialized Rockhopper Sport, 1993 Hard Rock Ultra, 1994 Trek Multitrack 750, 1995 Trek Singletrack 930

Mentioned: 24 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1119 Post(s)
Liked 890 Times in 570 Posts
I learned left arm up when I was a kid in the '70s. Right arm out makes more sense, especially with idiot younger drivers, so that's what I use.
Korina is online now  
Old 08-01-21, 08:10 PM
  #13  
TrailDogger
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 20
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
See Ohio Revised Code Section 4511.40 for hand signals.
TrailDogger is offline  
Old 08-01-21, 08:12 PM
  #14  
Bigbus
Very Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Always on the Run
Posts: 1,211

Bikes: Giant Quasar & Fuji Roubaix

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 413 Post(s)
Liked 341 Times in 242 Posts
On a motorcycle it's still all left arm here in the states.
Bigbus is offline  
Old 08-01-21, 08:55 PM
  #15  
extecher
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2021
Posts: 9
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Whether I'm on my bike or running with my stroller, I use my left arm. If I was in a car, I'm not always certain I would see a right hand while I'll always see the left. Also, my security strap for the stroller is on the right arm, so that makes pointing difficult.
extecher is offline  
Old 08-01-21, 08:56 PM
  #16  
ThermionicScott 
working on my sandal tan
 
ThermionicScott's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: CID
Posts: 21,909

Bikes: 1991 Bianchi Eros, 1964 Armstrong, 1988 Diamondback Ascent, 1988 Bianchi Premio, 1987 Bianchi Sport SX, 1980s Raleigh mixte (hers), All-City Space Horse (hers)

Mentioned: 95 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3555 Post(s)
Liked 1,949 Times in 1,245 Posts
Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
On a motorcycle it's still all left arm here in the states.
Motorcycles have been required to have turn signals in the US since 1973, so this falls into the category of irrelevant history lessons. I can honestly say I've never seen a motorcyclist signal a turn with their hands, in any fashion. Sorry.
__________________
Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
Originally Posted by noglider
People in this forum are not typical.
RUSA #7498
ThermionicScott is online now  
Likes For ThermionicScott:
Old 08-01-21, 09:45 PM
  #17  
Rick
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 924
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 387 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 250 Times in 162 Posts
Whether I'm on my bike or running with my stroller, I use my left arm. If I was in a car, I'm not always certain I would see a right hand while I'll always see the left. Also, my security strap for the stroller is on the right arm, so that makes pointing difficult.

Cars have turn signals and on a bicycle someone following you can see the extended arm easier than that funky left arm do all thing. The only reason to continue the left arm do all thing would be you are in fear of the little men in the white coats.
Rick is offline  
Likes For Rick:
Old 08-01-21, 10:16 PM
  #18  
canklecat
Me duelen las nalgas
 
canklecat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Texas
Posts: 13,221

Bikes: Centurion Ironman, Trek 5900, Univega Via Carisma, Globe Carmel

Mentioned: 195 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4386 Post(s)
Liked 2,419 Times in 1,569 Posts
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
The signal with right arm extended for a right turn has ben in the UVC for over several decades. I have found it in the vehicle code or laws that govern the use in all states that I have lived in. I was confronted by an indigent deputy in Florida and told to do it the car way. He showed me his cheat sheet and the part which says a bicyclist may extend the right arm out was was missing from it. It took his supervisor and nearly an hour and a half for him to shut up and let me and my 10 year old son leave the seen of the crime.
After decades of driving across most of the US, and bicycling in a few states, I'm no longer surprised by the annoying and sometimes dangerous combination of ignorance and enthusiasm with some young and/or new cops.

Several years ago while delivering a Mercedes between one dealership and another (we just drove the cars when we didn't have enough to load on a trailer) I had to drive through New Mexico. A young highway patrolman stopped me because he didn't know what dealer tags were. Took about 15 minutes on the radio to get clarification so I could go.
canklecat is offline  
Old 08-01-21, 10:23 PM
  #19  
extecher
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2021
Posts: 9
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
Cars have turn signals and on a bicycle someone following you can see the extended arm easier than that funky left arm do all thing. The only reason to continue the left arm do all thing would be you are in fear of the little men in the white coats.
I agree that the left-arm-does-all-thing is a bit funky; when I started back running with a stroller in neighbourhoods I realized I should use arm signals and going into right turns I was having mental fits trying to remember whether I was telling the person I was turning right or telling them I was stopping.

Having said all that, it's probably for naught because the drivers probably don't even notice arm flapping much less the intricacies of what the left arm signal means beyond turning left.
extecher is offline  
Old 08-01-21, 10:32 PM
  #20  
chaadster
Thread Killer
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 11,462

Bikes: '15 Kinesis Racelight 4S, '76 Motebecane Gran Jubilée, '17 Dedacciai Gladiatore2, '12 Breezer Venturi, '09 Dahon Mariner, '12 Mercier Nano, '95 DeKerf Team SL, '19 Tern Rally, ‘21 Breezer Doppler Cafe+, ‘19 T-Lab X3

Mentioned: 23 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2047 Post(s)
Liked 1,110 Times in 677 Posts
Pointing right to turn right is dumb AF. The American road code for all vehicular traffic is left arm bent 90° and I see no sane reason bikes should be exempt or different.

Last edited by cb400bill; 08-02-21 at 09:15 AM.
chaadster is offline  
Likes For chaadster:
Old 08-02-21, 01:19 AM
  #21  
bowwow
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2021
Location: Michigan
Posts: 113

Bikes: Miyata, Bridgestone, Trek

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 68 Post(s)
Liked 16 Times in 13 Posts
I think that many drivers/cyclists are confused by hand signals because so few cyclists bother to use them. If cyclists would use proper signals on a regular basis, drivers and riders would know the proper signals. One very good reason for the left arm indicating a right turn is the natural tendency to lean right when turning right. Extending your right arm while trying to lean into your turn is not only awkward but possibly dangerous as well. I usually use the right arm for the right turn but there are times when that left arm indicating a right turn is quite useful.

Maybe it's an age thing but I find it surprising that ppl who cycle on a regular basis would not know the four hand signals.
bowwow is offline  
Likes For bowwow:
Old 08-02-21, 06:56 AM
  #22  
rumrunn6
Senior Member
 
rumrunn6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 25 miles northwest of Boston
Posts: 27,320

Bikes: Bottecchia Sprint, GT Timberline 29r, Trek FX Alpha 7.0

Mentioned: 107 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4537 Post(s)
Liked 2,171 Times in 1,481 Posts
Originally Posted by Biketiger View Post
I am biking along a paved multi-use trail today and I see a rider coming towards me in the opposite lane. About 10 yards away he raises his right arm skyward. Clearly he is signaling a turn but I am confused as to which way. I'm thinking maybe he wants to go left which would cross my path but still at a safe distance. He turns to his right.
I appreciate his use of signals (most people don't) but I was really confused about the straight up arm. If he wanted to go right, why not just stick his arm out to the right? A signal anyone could accurately interpret.
It took me a minute to consider that while driving an automobile without a turn signal, the driver could stick out their left arm signaling a left hand turn but you can't point to the right so the raised arm is used instead.
But on a bike?
I did a little research and the League of American Bicylists recommends either method. From their site:
"Right Turn: Fully extend your right arm out to the side or bend your left arm up at a right angle with your hand flat."
That advice makes no sense to me. If I am making a left hand turn in front of you (assuming a safe distance) I will point left.
If I am going to the right, I'll point right. This straight up business defines ambiguity.
What do you think?
I agree with you & since I'm not in a car, when I turn right I stick my right arm out straight, left turn left arm out straight. sounds like that one person had good intentions ...
rumrunn6 is offline  
Old 08-02-21, 06:58 AM
  #23  
rumrunn6
Senior Member
 
rumrunn6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 25 miles northwest of Boston
Posts: 27,320

Bikes: Bottecchia Sprint, GT Timberline 29r, Trek FX Alpha 7.0

Mentioned: 107 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4537 Post(s)
Liked 2,171 Times in 1,481 Posts
Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
Pointing right to turn right is dumb AF. The American road code for all vehicular traffic is left arm bent 90° and I see no sane reason bikes should be exempt or different.
the reason is both arms are free. we're not sitting in a car with our right arm invisible
rumrunn6 is offline  
Likes For rumrunn6:
Old 08-02-21, 07:02 AM
  #24  
Milton Keynes
Senior Member
 
Milton Keynes's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 3,674

Bikes: Trek 1100 road bike, Roadmaster gravel/commuter/beater mountain bike

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2101 Post(s)
Liked 1,419 Times in 776 Posts
I always use right arm pointed right to signal a right turn. If I raise my left hand up to signal a right turn, people will likely think I'm waving at them or someone else. It's hard enough to get people to understand what pointing left or right means in the first place. I don't think they teach that much in driver's ed.
Milton Keynes is offline  
Likes For Milton Keynes:
Old 08-02-21, 07:15 AM
  #25  
chaadster
Thread Killer
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Posts: 11,462

Bikes: '15 Kinesis Racelight 4S, '76 Motebecane Gran Jubilée, '17 Dedacciai Gladiatore2, '12 Breezer Venturi, '09 Dahon Mariner, '12 Mercier Nano, '95 DeKerf Team SL, '19 Tern Rally, ‘21 Breezer Doppler Cafe+, ‘19 T-Lab X3

Mentioned: 23 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2047 Post(s)
Liked 1,110 Times in 677 Posts
Originally Posted by Milton Keynes View Post
I always use right arm pointed right to signal a right turn. If I raise my left hand up to signal a right turn, people will likely think I'm waving at them or someone else. It's hard enough to get people to understand what pointing left or right means in the first place. I don't think they teach that much in driver's ed.
You’re not supposed to be waving or pointing; the signals are static position with all fingers extended.
chaadster is offline  
Likes For chaadster:

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.