Bicycle Hand Signals

Importance of hand signals in better and secure biking

Hand signals are the specific gestures of a bicyclist that help in safe riding. We need some safety measures to make a bicycle ride memorable and adventurous. Hand signals play an essential role in making this happen. Here, we will explain the biking hand signals, their types, and their importance in better and safe riding.

Why do bicyclists need hand signals?

Bicyclists need hand signals to indicate their following action during biking. A bicyclist can use these signals to communicate with others on the same road. He can show his next move with a specific gesture. In this way, he can be predictable, would be less likely to be hit by a nearby vehicle, and would remain safe.

Tips for using hand signals

To make a hand signal effective, we need to do it properly. Here are some tips for a better hand signal:

Use a hand signal at least 100 feet before actually following it. To help the nearby drivers predict your following action and prepare to act accordingly.
Hold the signal for at least 3 seconds to make it adequately visible to other riders and drivers behind you.
While holding the signal, turn around, make eye contact with the people behind you, and ensure they have seen your sign.

Types of hand signals

We can divide hand signals into different types according to their functional purpose. There are four types of hand signals that are commonly used all over the world. These types are used in both situations when a person is either riding alone or in a group. In addition, some hand signal types are used explicitly in group riding and performed by the leading rider of the group. We will explain them after the general ones.

  1. Turning left :
  • In the UK

During riding a bicycle, if you want to turn left, you have to signal this by outstretching your left arm. You can extend either your fingers or just the index finger to point out.

  • In the USA

The hand signal for turning left in the USA, outstretch your left arm horizontally in the left direction. You can also extend either all or just the index finger in that direction.

2. Turning right

  • In the UK

To indicate your right turn, outstretch your right arm in the right direction. You can also extend this by pointing out either all or the index finger in the right direction.

  • In the USA

You can use either the right or the left arm to signal this in the USA. In the first case, use the right arm outstretched in the right direction with extended fingers or the index finger. Use your left arm horizontally in the second case by holding it upward with a 90-degree angle at the elbow joint.

3. Slowing

  • In the UK

To indicate that you will slow down, outstretch your right arm with the palm facing down. Then, move your hand at the wrist in the up and down direction for few times.

  • In the USA

To indicate your slowing in the USA, use your left arm. Horizontal left arm bent downward with a 90-degree angle at the elbow joint. 

4. Stopping

  • In the UK

If you want to stop riding in the UK, signal this by using the right arm. Outstretch your right arm with your palm facing forward.

  • In the USA

In the USA, the same hand signal indicates both slowing and stopping. Use the left arm bent downward.

  • All the types mentioned above of hand signals are used in general bicycle riding. However, some signs are only helpful for riding in the form of a bicyclist group. The leading rider uses these signals to communicate with all the cyclists behind him. Some of these types are as follows:
Bicycle Hand Signals

5. Pothole

If the leading rider sees a pothole on the road, he can use this signal to warn the other cyclists to avoid accidents. In this signal, use your arm, either left or right, depending upon the side of the pothole. Then, outstretch the arm and point towards the floor with the index finger. Then circularly move the index finger.

6. Hazard

This signal indicates the direction to follow in case of an upcoming hazard. For example, this signal helps when a rider sees danger on his left side, like parking cars, etc., and the leading rider points out to move in the right direction. In this signal, you need to turn your left arm behind your back and use your index finger to point out in the right direction. 

7. Come through

This signal helps when the leading rider wants the nearby riders to pass by him and come forward. In this signal, the cyclist can use the arm according to the side he wants the other riders to go through. Then, move your elbow slightly in that direction and make room for them so they can quickly come around.

8. Acknowledgment

To truly appreciate someone on the road, you can use a sign of thanks. For example, a driver slows down to let your group pass by or let you pass first through a narrow corner. In this gesture of thanksgiving, we can use the right hand with thumbs-up.


Do cyclists have to use hand signals? 

To avoid accidents, cyclists have to use these hand signals.

How to signal on a bike without falling?

To signal without falling from the cycle, you just have to use one arm, either right or left.

Bike hand signals in the UK.

Use the right arm to point right turn and the left arm for turning left. Use your right arm to indicate you’re stopping/slowing and palm faced forward for stopping while facing down and moving at wrist for slowing.

Bike hand signals in the USA/Canada/ ICBC/ bc/Nova Scotia/California.

In the USA, use your left arm outstretched for pointing your left turn, moved upward with a 90-degree angle at the elbow joint to point right turn, and inverse i.e. moved down to indicate stopping/slowing.

Bike hand signals in the Netherlands.

Extend your arm in the horizontal position in accordance with the direction you want to turn. Use the right arm to indicate a right turn and the left for a left turn.

IBike Rally Team

IBike Rally Team

IBike Rally Team is a team of passionate bike experts led by Daniyal Ali Channa. We have been reviewing bikes related products since 2005. Our aim is to educate people about bikes through IBIKE Rally. So they can choose the best as per their choice.

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