Understanding Bicycle Hand Signals

Bicycle Couple

Cycling is a fun, engaging, and healthy means of transportation that can be enjoyed by all members of the family. Before you or your loved ones take to the streets on your bikes, it is essential to be informed about the rules of the road for bicycles and other motor vehicles. Since bicycles are considered vehicles and their riders considered drivers, most of the fundamental laws that govern motorists also apply to cyclists. Obeying stop signs and traffic signals, riding with the flow of traffic, and ensuring your bicycle is equipped with lights at night are a few of the rules of the road that cyclists must follow. Other laws vary by state, but all states agree that by adhering to the same standards as motorists, bikers will be safer overall and will be better prepared to handle hazardous traffic situations.

One law that keeps cyclists and motorists aware and informed of other drivers’ intentions while on the road is the use of signaling to communicate the vehicle’s intended actions. In a car, truck or on a motorcycle turn signals and brake lights communicate the vehicle’s intentions. For those riding a bicycle on a highway or city street, this communication is equally and sometimes even more critical. Of course, most bikes aren’t equipped with electric turn signals and brake lights. Instead, cyclists use an internationally recognized set of hand gestures to indicate and communicate their intentions on the road. In the U.S., these hand signals are required by law.

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides the following descriptions of the three required hand signals:

  • Left Turn
    Extend your left arm out sideways with all fingers extended or use your index finger to point left.
  • Right Turn
    Extend your left arm out sideways bent at a 90-degree angle at the elbow joint, hand pointing upward and the palm of the hand facing forward. Alternative Right Turn: Extend your right arm out straight with all fingers extended or use your index finger to point right.
  • Stopping or Slowing
    Extend your left arm or right arm sideways and bend your arm at a 90-degree angle at the elbow joint, hand pointing downwards and the palm of your hand facing backward.

Since there is no barrier between a cyclist and the road, they are far more vulnerable if involved in a traffic accident. By using the required hand signals, cyclists keep themselves and others on the road safe and minimize the likelihood of an accident. For motorists, having a clear understanding of the cyclist hand signals can prevent deadly accidents from occurring.

If you, or someone you know, has been injured while riding a bicycle, contact a Personal Injury Lawyer. The Personal Injury Lawyers at The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP can inform you of legal options you may not know you have.

The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP is a full-service law firm serving Bakersfield, California and all of Kern County. Our firm is recognized as a leader in the community, and we offer and extensive and wide variety of legal services including, but not limited to water law, personal injury, business law, employment and labor law, estate planning, real estate, and much more. Please reach out today to talk to a member of our team.