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On The Blogs: How To Signal Right Turns

Why I Signal Right Turns With My Left ArmNot only is it a great post about signaling right turns with your left arm (instead of your right), but Duncan’s post on why he signals with his left has also spurred a great little discussion in the comments about the reasons why each method can be useful:

It can be easy to forget or simply not use hand signals when cycling. Streetcar tracks, potholes, bike lanes in door zones and other obstacles can have you focusing on keeping both hands on your handlebars. Yet, when it comes to communicating with other road users there is no better way than with hand signals.

Recently, I’ve noticed a lot of debate about how to signal a right turn. In North America, both extending your left arm then angling your forearm up and simply extending your right arm to point in the direction you’re about to go are acceptable. I’ve used both styles, but my default is to use my left arm.

Read the blog post and the comments on Duncan’s City Ride

  • Mr Ornot

    I find it confusing to have a different position to signal the same turn depending on which hand you’re using. To simplify, use the straight arm for the left turn and the bent-up arm for the right turn regardless of which hand you use. This allows for consistent and clear messages to other riders/drivers, while not discriminating against left-handed versus right-handed riders.

  • ron

    The guy in that picturing is indicating that he is stopping.

    Arm bent, open hand: right turn, arm bent, fist: stop.

  • duncan

    ron: I’m curious as to where you learned that a right turn and stop are differentiated by an open hand and a fist? I’ve never come across this as a hand signal and it does not appear to be taught in North America this way.

  • I’m with Duncan – I’ve never seen any differentiation between open/closed hand and have seen both used to signal a right turn.

    If it *is* a valid signal somewhere (it isn’t here according to MTO’s cycling guide: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/pubs/cycling-guide/section2.0.shtml), it seems a bit impractical. That’s a relatively small detail to take in from a distance and/or at traffic speeds.

  • @Bikeroo Ah yes, that was from the pamphlet handed out to mounted soldiers just before declaration of the war on the car, yes? ;-)

  • Rob

    Isn’t stop an arm that’s bent down?

  • duncan

    That’s correct, Rob.

  • Bill Talbot

    I just point with the arm that gives the clearest indication of where I am going. Most drivers are even more confused then us when it come to all the various “correct” methods of signalling.


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