Did you know that bicycle accidents in America have been on the rise since 2010?
The only thing worse than a bike accident is one that could have been avoided with simple communication. Often, bike crashes are caused by riders failing to indicate something to others, leading to confusion or collisions.
But even though bikes don’t have horns or blinkers, there are some easy ways to let others know where you’re moving. By using some commonly known hand signals and looking for what other riders signal, you can help prevent needless accidents.
Hand signals can also help protect you from being found liable for an accident, especially if a dashcam or security camera can show you doing so.
Below, we’ve gathered some of the most basic bicycle hand signals that you can practice next time you head out on the road.
5 Important Bicycle Hand Signals
The easiest way to stay safe on a bike is to be alert and communicate. With these basic hand signals, you’ll be able to quickly and indicate your intentions.
While some more expensive bikes may have brake lights, most don’t. Without signs to indicate that you’re coming to a stop, you could end up in a collision with a vehicle or another bike.
To let others know you’re going to stop, raise one of your hands above your head so that anyone around can see it.
If you have to come to a sudden stop that requires your hands on both brakes, calling out “stop” is your next best option.
While you may notice a hazard in the road, others behind you may not.
Loose gravel, metal, sand, ice, and large puddles are all common road obstacles that could endanger even a skilled bike rider.
To point out potential dangers to others, extend your arm and either wave your hand from side to side or wiggle your fingers around. Always be sure to extend the arm that’s on the same side of the road as the loose debris.
After you’ve checked to make sure that it’s absolutely safe to make a lefthand turn, extend your left arm straight out so that it’s parallel to the ground.
Remember that you’ll likely need both hands to safely complete the turn, so you should use this signal about 100 feet before you turn.
Depending on where you live, your right turn signal may mirror the left-handed version. To do this, simply extend your right arm fully so that it’s parallel to the ground. This version of the signal is actually prohibited in some states, so there’s a second right signal you can use.
To use the second signal, extend your left arm out and bend it up at the elbow to make a 90-degree angle. This will leave your left arm looking a bit like a capital “L.” For either method, you’ll want to leave your arm extended for at least three seconds.
Both versions are legal under Florida biking laws.
It could be easy to overlook this simple gesture, but waving shouldn’t be underestimated.
After a minor misunderstanding, a little wave is a good way to lessen tension or apologize for a mistake.
When the road gets tense, sending a wave of appreciation or friendliness can help keep the experience of bike riding safe and fun for everyone. So if someone lets you pass or give you the right of way without needing to, send them a wave of thanks!
Potholes are different than other types of road hazards, so it’s important cyclists know about them so they can prepare to avoid them. If you see a pothole, you can let other riders know with this quick signal.
Extend your arm on the side of the road the pothole is on, and point your finger down. If you can, move your arm in a circular motion to bring extra attention to the hole.
If a hole looks especially deep or dangerous, you may want to call out “hole” as well.
Hand signals are an important part of staying safe on the road, but combining them with calls can provide extra protection against accidents. If your fellow cyclers don’t see your signal or don’t understand it, a call provides an auditory warning for those in earshot.
Pair any of the signals above with a call like “left turn!” or “stopping!” to ensure as many people understand what you’re doing as possible. Many riders will also call “On your left!” or “On your right!” when passing by a fellow cyclist or pedestrian.
Listening for and giving calls while riding a bike is another simple way to protect yourself from a bike crash.
Help Prevent a Bike Crash With These Hand Signals
Biking is one of the best ways to save fuel, stay fit, and enjoy the outdoors of Southern Florida.
But because bikes don’t have lights or horns, staying safe while on a bike requires a few extra steps. By signaling with your arms or calling aloud, you can alert others to hazards and let them know where you’re going.
While these steps may not eliminate bike accidents, they are an easy way to help keep everyone safe on the road. Be sure to keep these basic bicycle hand signals in mind the next time you head out for a ride.
Have you been injured in a bicycle accident? Do you need legal help in Southern Florida? We’re here to fight for you.