Last time I went on an urban bike trip with Natural Highways (which are extremely fun, shameless plug, please come out and participate, it's super fun!!), we had some issues with communication on the road. So, I’ve decided that we should be aware of the proper way to communicate when biking on trails, and especially on roads. While cars use blinkers, bikers will use hands.
Before trying to use these hand signals for real, practice doing them in a safe, open area. All of these hand signals require you to be able to bike with one hand momentarily.
The left turn is very simple. As you approach a turn, stick your left hand out parallel to the ground as shown in the image below:
Upon reaching the turn, you may lower your hand back to the handle to safely make a left turn.
The right turn is also pretty simple, but has two variations. You may either stick your right hand out parallel to the ground, or you may stick your left hand up in an L shape
I personally use my left hand for both turn signals, but some people prefer the right hand for making right turns. I actually might decide to make the change to using my right hand for right turns since some drivers may be confused and think that I’m stopping.
Speaking of stopping, here is how you signal that you are stopping. When signaling that you are coming to a stop, you should stick your left hand out, pointing downwards in an upside-down L shape as shown below:
When signaling that you are passing someone, you should always approach them from their left side and shout “On your left!” to signal that you are passing them. You should never attempt to pass someone from the right side as it forces them to lean away from the right side of the road which can interrupt traffic if they are caught off guard. Having a bell or horn helps too.
Remember to always practice safety when biking! Wear a helmet, dress for the weather, and be mindful of your surroundings.