If you commute to your work with a bike or like to ride your bike in the streets and let loose, you should learn bike hand signals. While law enforcement rarely compels you to make the signal with your hands, they can decrease the chances of a collision, its injuries, and fatalities.
Therefore, we’ll tell you why bike hand signals came to be and point out how they make your commute/joyride safer, whether you’re riding alone or in a group.
The Importance of Cycling Hand Signals
How to signal is a crucial thing that all cyclists need to learn. That’s because those hand signals can prevent numerous bike accidents that occur due to misunderstandings and miscommunications between bicyclists and car drivers.
Overall, they function in the same way that brake lights and turn indicators do in cars. So, they allow you to communicate your intended movements with the vehicles and other bikers around you.
What Are the Hand Signals for Bike Riding?
There are three basic hand signals that you must know if you’re planning on riding a bike within the streets among other vehicles and bikers. These are the left turn, right turn, and stop signals. There’s also the slowing down signal, which is a slight variation of the stop signal and another gesture used for warning other bikers from dangers on the road.
Nevertheless, always remember to make eye contact with those around you before you signal so that they see and comprehend your intentions. That way, you’ll decrease the probability of accidents happening considerably and ensure your safety on the road.
Quite simply, to gesture to the people around you that you’re about to turn left, you have to raise your left arm and extend it horizontally by your side.
Moreover, the same hand signal will be used if you’re changing lanes to the left. Just like with cars, you need to warn other drivers before changing lanes so that they’re aware of you and able to respond accordingly.
Once you’ve looked back and ensured that no cars are passing on your left, execute the left turn signal and change lanes. Still, always remember to check that no obstacles, vehicles, or potholes are in front of you before turning to look back.
Most importantly, remember to signal well before your turn/lane shift and hold the signal for a sufficient amount of time. Generally, you should make the hand signal about 100 feet before moving and hold it for approximately three seconds. As such, your left hand will be back on the handlebars as you’re turning, making for a smoother and safer turn.
When you’re signaling that you’re about to make a right turn, you have two options. First, you can extend your left arm as you would when making a left turn. Then, bend your elbow upwards to make a right angle with your hand open. Second, you can extend your right arm out horizontally.
While the first-hand signal is considered outdated and is no longer recommended for use, both of these hand signals are accepted and recognized in Georgia and most other states. So, find the most comfortable one for you and stick with it when turning right or shifting lanes.
When you need to stop for whatever reason, be it a stop sign, red traffic light, or to allow pedestrians to pass, you have to extend your left arm horizontally with your palm open. Then, bend your elbow at 90° so that your forearm is pointing downwards.
Also, this stop signal is the most common hand signal and the one that’s agreed upon in most states, including Georgia. However, there’s another signal that’s used in other parts of the United States. It consists of sticking out your left arm and pointing downwards, keeping your arm straight with the palm facing those behind you.
Even though you won’t use the second signal if you’re cycling in Georgia, you’ll still benefit from knowing it, as you’ll be able to comprehend it when other bicyclists are using it. And remember that if you don’t feel comfortable removing your hands from the handlebars, warn other cyclists by yelling “stopping”.
This signal isn’t prevalent, yet some people still use it. Like the second stop signal, you’ll fully extend your left arm straight down with the palm facing the ground. Then, you’ll move your hand upwards and downwards to let surrounding vehicles and cyclists know that you need to slow down.
This signal is mostly for the benefit of other cyclists that are following you. Its purpose is to alert them about any hazards or poor road conditions they should avoid, such as potholes, broken glass, rocks, slippery liquids, and more. Merely point in the direction of the problem as you pass it, and the other cyclists will know to pay attention to this area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Ride a Bike on the Sidewalk in the State of Georgia?
No, riding a bike on the sidewalk is prohibited if you’re thirteen years or older. Unless you’ve gotten explicit permission to ride on the sidewalk, you should only move in the specified bicycle lanes or on the street. However, if you must use the sidewalk, then walk alongside your bike.
Can You Pass Vehicles on the Right?
Passing vehicles on the right is acceptable if you’re riding in a bicycle lane or street that’s wide enough for both cars and bikes, provided that you stay 1.5-2 feet away from the curb. Still, you should always take care and closely watch for other cars turning or backing out of spots to avoid any unfortunate accidents.
Also, remember to stay off the left side of the road because riding there isn’t only illegal but also very dangerous.
All in all, communicating with others while riding your bike is necessary to protect you from getting hurt or killed on the road. And bike hand signals were invented as a method to do just that. They’re capable of alerting any driver or cyclist near you to your intentions by moving your left or right arm.
So, don’t forget to signal. And always obey traffic laws to limit the risk to yourself and clear yourself from any blame in case of an accident.