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Indicating turns is a rule for cyclists, just like for drivers

Effective communication can help keep everyone safe on the roads. Manufacturers of motor vehicles install brake lights and turn signals in their vehicles so that drivers can signal their intentions to each other. In a car, all you have to do is flip a switch or press on the brake to light up part of your vehicle and alert those around you of the maneuver you are about to make.

While bikes don’t typically come with turn signals, cyclists can invest in turn signal systems that light up. However, not everyone wants to install those systems on their bike. If you don’t use an LED system to notify drivers of your impending turns, you have an obligation to use hand signals instead to alert drivers of your upcoming maneuvers while you bike on public roads.

How do you indicate a turn on a bicycle?

When you intend to complete a turn, you should use your left arm to make a signal. If you intend to turn left, you hold your arm out in a straight line from your shoulder to indicate that you will soon move in that direction. If you intend to turn right, hold your arm out from your shoulder with your forearm extended upward at a 90-degree angle, making an uppercase letter L. If you need to abruptly slow down or stop while in traffic, simply perform the inverse of the right turn motion by pointing your arm toward the street instead.

Completing these motions will let attentive drivers know about your plans and lower your risk of them colliding with you.

Drivers should know and respect the signals used by cyclists

You have an obligation to warn drivers of your maneuvers, and they have an obligation to respond appropriately to your signals. Drivers should prioritize keeping cyclists and pedestrians safe. Driver’s education programs typically include instruction on bike rules as well so that drivers understand the hand signals that cyclists use and their obligation to let cyclists use the road like anyone else with a vehicle.

Learning the proper hand signals can help you stay safer as a cyclist out there on the busy California roadways.