When cycling, you become a part of the road traffic and you have to take part in creating a safe and conducive situation for everyone, whether it’s when you ride alone or in a group. With other traffic users, communication is key when you are maneuvering your ways on the road. That is why you can learn to use hand signals to alert other road users. In this article, we will be explaining basic hand signals. Let’s get down to it!
How to Check Your Surroundings
The most important rule of maneuvering your ways on the road is to make sure the lane is clear. Car drivers will use their mirrors to check. Unfortunately, we do not have that on our bikes. But, you can replace this with checking over your shoulder. Look towards the back and make sure the areas are clear, signal your maneuver, and then make your move.
Now that you know how to check your surroundings, you are ready to learn the hand signals!
When you are signaling for a turn, you have to do it way before the actual turn you are about to do. So, from a few distance away, check over your shoulder to make sure the road is clear. Then, fully extend either your left or right arm, depending on which turn you want to take. Keep signaling, while you check over your shoulder again to see if the lane really is clear and no one is about to overtake you. If it is clear, make your way towards the correct lane, and then turn. When you reach the junction, try to stay in the middle of your lane for easier turning.
Slowing Down or Stopping
During your cycling, you can come across an obstacle or a road situation where you need to slow down or even come to a full stop. To avoid other road users bumping your back, you can signal for them to do the same. For slowing down, you can put your arm out to the side and then give signals move hand up and down.
For stopping, this can come in handy whether you are solo riding or group riding. You can communicate your stopping by putting your arm straight up. This gesture will work best if you are in a big group ride, so that everyone can see what you are doing. On the other hand, if you are only cycling with a small group of friends or even alone, you can put your hand behind you instead. If you need to come to an emergency stop and use both hands to brake properly, you can always shout “STOPPING” to alert other road users. It is the most ideal way for your last resort.
Pointing Out Hazards
When you are cycling in a group, it is always helpful for your friends when you point out hazards ahead. All you have to do is point out your arm and finger towards the obstacles or holes. It helps them to avoid the hazards instead of crashing onto it. But, if you can not use your hands, you can always say “hole to the right” or “obstacle to the left”.
Overtaking Parked Cars or Obstacles
Sometimes during your ride, you can come across a parked car you have to overtake, or an obstacle that you have to ride your way around it. To signal this, you can move your arm towards the back and point in the direction you are going to maneuver to. If you want to move to the right, you can use your left arm then point your finger towards the right, and vice versa.
Pass On The Signal
This hand signal is most important when you are riding in a group. It is to transfer the signal to all the members of the group so everyone knows what is happening up on the front. So, if you see riders in front of you giving a signal, you should copy the signal so the one behind you can do it as well. This way, everyone will know where they are going and what they are facing, to keep everyone comfortable and safe during the ride.
Oh, and a nice thumbs up to say “thank you” to other road users when they are waiting behind you or giving you clear lanes is very much appreciated!
And that wraps up the basic hand signals you need to know for cycling! To increase your safety, make sure you are also wearing complete gears such as helmets, gloves, and glasses. You can also use lights to make yourself more noticeable towards other road users.
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