How Should I Brake While Signaling?

Q:  What's the secret to braking while signaling a right turn? It's unsettling to use the front brake with only one hand on the handlebar. Is there a special technique for right turns? -- Jonathan H.

COACH FRED:  I understand your problem with using the left brake lever (front brake) while using your right hand to signal a right turn. If you're very careful, you can do that when you're riding in a straight line and the pavement isn't bumpy. One-hand front braking is never recommended while actually turning!

I think the best tactic is to signal with your right hand well in advance of the turn, put both hands back on the bar to brake to turning speed, then signal right again (if necessary) during the 20-30 feet before making the turn. This way, drivers have at least one and maybe two chances to see your intent. But it avoids braking while holding the bar with one hand.

You can use the same procedure for turning left. The difference is that braking with the right hand (rear brake) while signaling with the left hand is less likely to cause bike-handling problems because the front wheel remains free to roll.

On city streets, keep your speed moderate to give yourself time to signal, brake and turn without any risk to bike control. With anticipation, you may be able to soft pedal and sit up to reduce speed for turns, then signal, and never need to brake at all.

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