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Proper Hand Signals(44 posts)

Proper Hand Signalspitt83
Jul 31, 2003 4:54 AM
OK, had a discussion on a group ride about this yesterday.

My method: Use only your left arm. Hand up for a right turn, hand out straight for a left turn, hand down to brake with the bend at the elbow for all. This method comes from the drivers ed manual when cars didn't have electric turn signals. Think about it: If you're in a car, you must do everything with your left arm only. I've used this my whole cycling life.

Buddy's method: Point in the direction you're turning with the same hand. Right arm for a right turn; left arm for a left turn; braking-Left hand behind your back but only used with other cyclists since cars won't see or understand it.

His contention is: Drivers don't understand my method and you're trying to show intention, not necessarily follow the letter of the law.

Who's right? Which do you use?
re: Proper Hand Signalsgregario
Jul 31, 2003 5:13 AM
I agree with your friend. I think you're overestimating the intelligence of other people. Point in the direction you're turning. Don't use the left arm, hand up for a right turn because they either won't know what you're doing or don't remember the driver's ed class. They'll think you're waving or something. I should qualify that statement though, if I think the driver in question cannot see the arm I am using I will revert to the left arm up for a right turn. I only use the hand down signal for slowing/stopping when riding with other bikers. For the record, I'm 41 and it could be a generational thing.
I agree. Make it as simple as possible for drivers. nmDave Hickey
Jul 31, 2003 5:34 AM
I highly disagree.Steve_0
Jul 31, 2003 5:49 AM
Regardless of what Driver's ed or instructional manual's state; the law CLEARLY defines the handsignals to be used.

Using an improper signal is not only illegal (thereby opening yourself to liability should an accident happen), but it is confusing in itself.

You're friends logic is illogical; Implying one should make illegal turns in case a fully licencsed driver isn't familiar with the rules of the road.
Jul 31, 2003 5:54 AM
so follow the law and confuse stupid people? Doesn't sound like common sense to me. follow the KISS method. keep it simple. i challenge you to take a poll and ask folks what the left hand bent up at 90 degrees means.
Jul 31, 2003 6:02 AM
yes; making up your OWN signals is far less confusing.

I'll decline your challenge because I disagree most drivers are so stupid that they dont undestand basic signaling.

I challenge you to go take your little poll.
I just asked 8 people in my office the proper signalDave Hickey
Jul 31, 2003 6:05 AM
for a right hand turn. One person knew the answer............. I'll stick with my method
you beat me to it.gregario
Jul 31, 2003 6:09 AM
I was going to take a similar poll as Steve wanted. As I said before, you're overestimating the intelligence of average folks.
...or you're assuming your colleagues are 'average'. nm.Steve_0
Jul 31, 2003 6:53 AM
Old fashioned hand-signalsjtolleson
Jul 31, 2003 8:16 AM
are an anachronism now. Yes, my dad collected antique cars and so I sometimes drove a vehicle with no turn signals. But for most, they've never heard of such a thing. And I'd bet that most young drivers are truly confused by the upward pointing "one way jesus" gesture as a sign of an impending right turn.

Pointing where you're turning works, with little risk of confusion. I find it safer and clearer.
Jul 31, 2003 6:08 AM
making up my own signal? pointing right arm extended to indicate a right turn is confusing? to who, engineers? I can't believe anyone would argue with this.
Ask your typical driver the proper signal for a right turnDave Hickey
Jul 31, 2003 5:56 AM
and they won't have a clue....... It might be illegal but IMHO, it's safer to use your right hand.
...again, disagree.Steve_0
Jul 31, 2003 6:00 AM
I see proper hand signals all the time. I'm one driver of many.

Just because the people on this bored (apparently) dont recognize and use proper signals, doesnt mean the 'typical' driver doesnt.
I highly disagree.Creaky Carnivore
Jul 31, 2003 6:24 AM
Use the lawful signals that everyone should have some exposure to at some time (ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law). That way if you are involved in an "accident" you can argue that your intent was clearly signaled by gestures that are recognized by all motor vehicle codes. A NO BRAINER!
Check your local statuteskermit
Jul 31, 2003 7:01 AM
The laws in some states and provinces explcitly state that pointing with your right hand is a legal and acceptable method of signalling a right turn.

I've seen riders who point in the direction of their turn with one finger extended and kind of shake their wrist as if they are scolding someone. Their intention to turn (left or right) was very obvious and the motion catches your attention.

Shake your wrist and point.Fredrico
Jul 31, 2003 10:28 AM
Yeah, that's always worked for me. Traffic policeman do the same thing, shake their hand emphatically and point where they want you to go. State laws recognise that technique, as an alternative to the left hand being raised for a right turn, which people seldom see these days, therefore might misinterpret. The idea is take no chances, make no assumptions, except that those you are sharing the road with are simple-minded, which often they are.
I also agree with your friend...biknben
Jul 31, 2003 5:47 AM
I used to do the left arm only thing. Too many clueless people just don't understand that. You'd better hope they were paying attention in Driver's Ed. Now, I just point in the direction I am turning (right with right arm). I also point with just one finger extended. If people can't figure that one out then I'll be happy to explain when my head is poking through their windshield.

Just to heighten the debate:
I have a riding friend who also rides a motorcycle. He insists that a motorcycle rider is instructed to use their right arm to signal turns (says it's in the rider instruction handbook). This is because the left hand controls the front brake. So a right turn is signaled with the right arm bent upwards and a left turn signal is made by extending the right arm out straight. Completely bass ackwards if you ask me.
Although it may be approapriate on a motorcycle, my friend also insists on using this method while on a bicycle. Whether he is right or wrong does not concern me. I just think he is being nieve in believing that it is everyone else's responsibility to know what his signals mean.
(also states right arm in the state statutes).Steve_0
Jul 31, 2003 5:53 AM
I'm glad I dont live in whichever state you people do; hand signling is well understood in the midlantic region. I see 'em (and use em) every day on motorcycles.
(duh - left arm- see this IS confusing)Steve_0
Jul 31, 2003 5:53 AM
For any interested, here's what FL law says:94Nole
Jul 31, 2003 6:19 AM
Signaling turns
(Sub-sections 316.155(2) and 316.157(2), F.S.)

A signal of intention to turn must be given during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning. If a bicyclist needs both hands for control, the signal need not be given continuously.

A cyclist signals intent to turn left by extending the left arm horizontally. A bicyclist may signal intent to turn right either by extending the left hand and arm upward or by extending the right hand and arm horizontally to the right side of the bicycle.
So, it's my decisionpitt83
Jul 31, 2003 6:23 AM
But you guys still haven't figured out how to use the voting booth, so no surprise there!
Actually, only Palm Beach County. No dimpled, hanging,....(nm)94Nole
Jul 31, 2003 7:11 AM
TX law also expressly permits right arm extended for cyclists nmKEN2
Jul 31, 2003 6:46 AM
Pennsylvania law is very similar...JL
Jul 31, 2003 7:00 AM
Almost the same wording. I would check with your states DOT webpage. I bet your language is very similar from state to state.

Happy riding.

btw - unless your friend lives in the UKSteve_0
Jul 31, 2003 5:59 AM
he has it all wrong.

accelleration and decellearation are controlled on the RIGHT side of the bike.

Gearing is on the left.

Signals are with the left arm.
Motorcycle controlsMisJG
Jul 31, 2003 6:05 AM
What kind of motorcycle is your friend riding? Here's the rundown on motorcycle controls:
Left Hand: Clutch & Turn Signals (electric)
Right Hand: Throttle & Front Brake & Horn & Kill Switch (on my motorcycle. not sure if kill switch is there on all bikes)
Not that you asked but:
Left Foot: Gear Shifter
Right Foot: Rear Brake

I don't think I would want to be around a motorcyclist who routinely took their right hand off the controls. Too much loss of control there, IMO.
You friend must not live in the USA?lemmy999
Jul 31, 2003 6:08 AM
I have been riding motorcycles for more than 25 years and on all of the bikes in the USA the right hand controls brakes and the accelerator. The left hand controls the clutch. So you definitely would NOT want to use the right hand to signal turns. The left hand is what you would use.
I also agree with your friend...PaulNYC
Jul 31, 2003 8:10 AM
Biknben wrote:
"Just to heighten the debate:
I have a riding friend who also rides a motorcycle. He insists that a motorcycle rider is instructed to use their right arm to signal turns (says it's in the rider instruction handbook). This is because the left hand controls the front brake. So a right turn is signaled with the right arm bent upwards and a left turn signal is made by extending the right arm out straight. Completely bass ackwards if you ask me.
Although it may be approapriate on a motorcycle, my friend also insists on using this method while on a bicycle. Whether he is right or wrong does not concern me. I just think he is being nieve in believing that it is everyone else's responsibility to know what his signals mean."

Your friend must have a very old motorcycle.
Since 1976 Motorcycles in the USA have had the clutch actuated by the Left hand, and the brake and throttle by the right hand. The left hand is used for signalling, as you cannot readily remove your hand from the throttle.
never saw a motorcycle with brakes on left, that's the clutch nmHedgehog
Jul 31, 2003 8:29 AM
I have a motorcycle, and...MShaw
Jul 31, 2003 9:20 AM
...just passed the written CA drivers license test. In the booklet they give you, it shows a rider using his LEFT arm to signal. The reason: the throttle is conrtolled by the right arm. No throttle = no go = bad.

Have your friend go get a copy of the drivers handbook from your local DMV and show you. Betcha he's wrong! Betcha he won't change either...

A cop was confused by the left arm methodpitt83
Jul 31, 2003 6:09 AM
I was going to drop my friends advice and stick with my method, but, this morning, I used the left arm method. A cop looked at me like, "WTF?". Not until I pointed to the road on my right did she understand what I wanted to do. That's why I'm considering going with the illegal, but somewhat logical method.
Point where you intend to goCHRoadie
Jul 31, 2003 6:38 AM
The 'left arm up at 90 degree angle' was designed for a person sitting in the driver's seat of a car, where the right arm pointing would not be visible to someone in a car behind them. You're not in a car. Point where you intend to go: left arm for left turn, right arm for right turn. Everyone will know what you mean, and that's the only thing that matters.
California codeCHRoadie
Jul 31, 2003 1:51 PM
From VC22111:

Right turn- left hand and arm extended upward beyond the side of the bicycle or right hand and arm extended horizontally to the right side of the bicycle.
re: Proper Hand Signalsovertrained
Jul 31, 2003 6:42 AM
The reason I don't use my left hand is that it's confusing for trafic that is not behind you. At a four way stop, it's much easier for drivers to understand if your pointing which direction you want to go instead of some signals that are only recongnisable from behind.
Here's instructions from the Minnesota Dept of Public SafteyScot_Gore
Jul 31, 2003 7:02 AM
Minn Dept of Public Saftey is our Highway Patrol. I'm somewhat of an old dog, so I find myself using the left arm signals I was taught years ago. I checked with the youngest person I could find in the office. She was never taught the hand signals.
Must you also dress like a phred? nmpitt83
Jul 31, 2003 7:19 AM
In Vt. we have to use BOTH hands simultaneously...(nm) ;-)Mariowannabe
Jul 31, 2003 7:07 AM
re: Proper Hand Signalsajgibbons
Jul 31, 2003 7:45 AM
I agree. It takes a little time to perfect the no-hands, lean-in turn, but simultaneous signals are clearly the best for legally informing the ignorant.

"Googling" this subject, I found nearly unanimous support for using right arm pointing, at least as a legally acceptable alternative. (again, check your own state)

Here are some examples:

Good thread!
The fact that there is debate on this is amazing....newridr
Jul 31, 2003 8:22 AM
One of the reasons that the left arm is the primary means of signaling is so that you can safely state your intentions to other motorists/bicyclists and maintain your right hand on the bars and rear brake. Try signaling a right hand turn with your right arm outstretched while going 25 mph into a turn and using the front brake only to scrub some speed.

The fact that other people in the office or out on the street are unaware of proper hand signals is merely a symptom of the overall dumbing down of society.
So there's only one correct answer?jtolleson
Jul 31, 2003 9:01 AM
and those of us who disagree are uninformed yahoos?

Try signaling a right turn at high speed? Yup, do it all the time. And I use my right arm so no one behind me understands my intentions.

The only reason the left arm is used is it is a holdover from pre-blinker auto days (no one can see a driver signal with his right arm). I don't have any illusion that hand signals were developed with bicycling braking in mind.
Can we all agree as a group...loki_1
Jul 31, 2003 9:30 AM
to just stick to left hand turns? No more right turns. Problem solved.
everybody needs to get one of these...Uprwstsdr
Jul 31, 2003 10:14 AM
"pander" to the lowest levelSpoiler
Jul 31, 2003 10:24 AM
There's some pretty stupid people out there, so I try to accommodate them. Left arm straight out with left index finger pointed straight left can pretty easily be interpreted as
"See where I'm pointing? That's where I'm going." Same for right turns.

For a stop or slowing down, racers around here I put your either hand behind your back and make a blinking sign with your hand by opening and closing all five fingers, like you got arthritis and are flexing all five digits. Even if the driver behind doesn't immediately recognize it's meaning, it gets drivers attention.

They may not be the standard stick-figure signs, but at least I'm making an effort. We have humanoids out there who can't even put forth the effort to flip the car's signal handle up or down.
Now that the Tour is over, everybody's got lots of free time..NMcrestlinefarm
Jul 31, 2003 1:00 PM