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Hand Turn Signals for Bicyclists

Hand Turn Signals for Bicyclists
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Posted by Lisa Caterbone
February 28, 2017

Do you know the proper way to signal when riding in traffic?

This is something we would teach in our Bike 101 classes.  Knowing how to properly interact with vehicle traffic is necessary for you to stay as safe as possible while riding.  Our roadways are dangerous enough, but without giving automobiles the visual commands of where you want to go on the road, something horrible can happen!  Take a look at this video of a cyclist in Singapore who actually gets hit by a cab.  There’s a few things I’ll discuss once you take a look.

OK… let’s talk about this video:

    1. It’s in Singapore so I am not sure why he’s riding in a center lane of traffic.
    2. He’s giving an alternate right turn signal.  This is acceptable by law.  (See turn signals illustration below).
    3. This is the kicker here…. HE’S NOT LOOKING BACK!!!  He just puts his hand out to say to the vehicles ‘hey, I’m moving over’… but he DOES NOT LOOK BACK!

Moral of the story is:  No matter what, you must always look back (behind) you when you are trying to move across lanes on a road.  By not looking back, he actually got hit by a taxi.

Side note: The video did not give the condition of the rider. I hope he is OK and on the mend, as this was a pretty bad hit.


Here are the proper ways to signal vehicle traffic around you. And, of course, always make sure you also look all directions before making a turn.

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  1. In my experience, the “right turn” signal (as opposed to the alternate right turn signal) is totally foreign to modern automobile drivers. If you’d go in a room of people an ask what that signal represents, I think you’d get crickets! SO, I always use the “alternate” so that there’s NO misinterpretation. AND of course, I’m looking in my rearview for traffic. It’s crazy enough out there….

    • Phyllis… I, too, use the ‘alternate’ method. I found when I used the traditional right turn signal, most drivers thought I was either waving to them or asking them to stop. It’s confusing for drivers.

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