Bike Hand Signals That You Need to Know [Guide 2021]

bike hand signals

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If you want to stay safe on the road, you need to know your bike hand signals. They will allow you to stay safe on the road while being courteous to your fellow cyclists. There are many bicycle hand signals out there and they all have important uses.

Do you know your biking hand signals? If not, then you’ve come to the right place. Here we’ll look at the most important bike hand signals and how to do them. Let’s get started. 

Why Are Bike Hand Signals Important?

One of the main reasons to use bike signals is to prevent injuries from happening while cycling. In 2019, more than 800 cyclists died on the road in the US, while many others suffered injuries. Many of these injuries and deaths occurred between the cyclist and motorist because of misunderstandings.

You reduce the risk of injury from a car using cyclist hand signals. The likeliness of becoming part of an accident is less when signaling your intentions. Just as motorists need to learn the road rules, you need to know your bicycle hand signals for safety.

Also Read: Biking Vs Running

Cycling hand signals also help when cycling in a group to warn others you plan to slow down, turn, or stop. Cyclist signals allow others to react appropriately.

5 Bike Hand Signals That You Need to Know:

Below you can find the primary bike hand signals to use. When using these signals, make sure to look back and making eye contact with another person on the road, if possible. Doing this allows you to know what is happening in your surroundings and helps increase others noticing your signals.

Try to start signaling at least 100 feet before you plan to stop or turn. The motorist will get an idea to react and allow you enough time to place your hands back on your handlebars. You can then signal again just before a stop or turn.

Left Turn:

For signaling a left turn, extend your left arm out to the side and make sure you do this 100 feet before making your turn. Doing this alerts others what your intention is, allowing you to return your arm to your bike.

Right Turn:

When it comes to the right turn, you have two methods of doing it. First, a frequently used bike hand signal extends your right arm to your side the same as the left turn. However, check with your state first, as some do not allow it. The other technique extends your left arm to the side and turns your arm up to a 90° angle.


Cyclists need to use the stop signal, as many bikes do not have a brake light. To help inform motorists, you plan to stop or slow down, extend your left arm out and bend it down to 90° with the hand open. As with all the bike hand signals, make sure to do this in plenty of time.

Slowing Down:

As necessary as informing motorists you are stopping, they also need to know when you are slowing down. To do this, point your left arm down and to the side, keeping your palm parallel to the ground. Next, start moving your palm up/down while keeping it parallel to the ground, indicating you are slowing down.

Dodging An Obstacle:

On any road, when cycling you find obstacles in your way such as potholes, bumps, rough roads, remnants, and more. These obstacles appear suddenly when riding and sometimes are hard to see posing a threat to you.

For this reason, you need to inform oncoming traffic that there are obstacles on the road. You do this by pointing your index finger down and away from the body towards the obstacles when passing by.

If it is only debris and not a pothole, you can inform others by pointing downwards and waving your hand back/forth or give it a shake in a circular motion from your wrist.           

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do bicycles have to use hand signals?

Yes, as it is compulsory in the United States to let others know what you plan to do. While bicycle hand signals are rarely enforced, it is crucial and alerts motorists what you intend to do.

When should signals be used?

At all times when you plan to turn left/right, slow down, stop, or want to inform oncoming traffic of obstacles in the road.

What hand should you use to do the bike hand signals?

Most of the time with cycling hand signals, you use your left arm and hand to signal except when you plan to turn right, depending on the state laws.

Can you buy tail light signals for bikes?

Yes, you can. But these days you can find many bicycles with a standard turn signal present in the tail light that are California State and DOT legal. These tail lights help indicate that you plan to turn right/left, but we recommend using your hand signals as added safety if these lights fail.

How do you indicate there is a hazard in the road?

You can raise your hand above the head, indicating that you expect an upcoming hazard passing the bike and pointing directly to the road.

How do you let cars know it’s safe to overtake?

For motorists to safely overtake, you can flick your elbow on the side you want them to pass through. Then, ease off your pedals slightly for them to get the message.

Final Verdict:

Bike hand signals are not universal around the world. Most of them, however, are fairly self-explanatory. Cyclists and motorists alike recognize the majority of these bicycle hand signals.

For your safety and others, learn bike hand signals start using them when on the road. They allow you to communicate with others about your actions, from turning left/right, stopping, slowing down, to unseen hazards on the road.

Practice your bike hand signals today and share them with your other fellow cyclists to improve the safety on the road while cycling alone or in a group.

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