It’s smart to signal every turn, and it could save you from an accident when riding in traffic. But how can you signal when you also need to brake for the upcoming corner?
Try these tips:
—Right turn. Using the left brake lever (front brake) while using your right arm to signal a right turn can be risky. If you’re careful, you can do it when you’re riding in a straight line and the pavement isn’t bumpy. One-hand front braking is never recommended while actually turning.
There are two options. First, you can signal with your right arm well in advance of the turn, put both hands back on the bar to brake to turning speed, then signal right again during the 20-30 feet before making the turn. This way, drivers have at least one and maybe two chances to see your intent.
Second, you can use a driver’s right-turn signal by holding your left arm out with your elbow bent upward 90 degrees. This lets you brake with your right hand (rear brake), which is less likely to cause bike-handling problems because the front wheel remains free to roll.
—Left turn. This is easier because, as just described, you can brake using the rear wheel with your right hand and signal by pointing your left arm outward. Apply steadily increasing lever pressure to decelerate to cornering speed. Don’t snatch the lever, which could cause veering or lurching.
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.
Mike ondre says
Both turns should be made with the left arm. Right hand always on the rear brake hood.
Keep in mind that, I dare say, 90% of today’s motorists have NO idea what hand signals mean, so sticking your left arm out and up is a mystery. I teach taking the proper lane position, i.e., be very visible, and keep it simple: point where you wanna go.
George Straznitskas says
Absolutely agree Chris!
Zvi Wolf says
If a driver is under ~ 50 they will not know the right turn signal using the left arm. My kids, who are in their late 20s, did not learn hand signals. Signal with the turn appropriate arm.
Similarly, I don’t buy keeping my hand on the right brake. The left is more powerful and will stop you more effectively. Just keep your weight back.
Remember: This is all about communicating your intentions to all street users, motorized or otherwise, so signal visibly and emphatically. The wimpy finger or wrist waggle is not only invisible (especially to someone whose vision is obscured by a windshield), it communicates nothing intelligible. Stick that arm out!
Robert Hunter says
I ride a motorcycle too so I switched my brakes and have the front on the right where it belongs. Signal well before the turn, change lane position..a little weave to wake drivers up and never assume that they see you and will do the right thing, the social contract is long gone. Take 100% responsibility for your life.. make them work at it if they’re going to kill you.
Bruce Miller says
If you need both hands on the brakes, sticking a leg out is an option (traffic permitting).
Neisen Luks says
I usually put right arm out for right turn in advance of intersection. i also sort of wave and wiggle it to attempt to get some attention. Same on left.
Question, is there a meaningful hand signal for going straight thru an intersection. With my club rides, I usually just put my arm up, a la Statue of Liberty. What makes sense for traffic??
Peter Leiss says
Signalling your intent to other road users is always a good idea. Ride like you are driving a vehicle. I have commuted through a major City Toronto since 1971 and can attest that if you indicate your intentions 99% of other road users get it. The rest never will.