Which way are you going?

I’ve recently noticed a growing trend for rather casual hand-signalling by cyclists. Although generally I do more mileage a week by bicycle than I do by motor, its during my daily short commute to work and back in the car, that I’ve been observing these lazy left and right indications.

I’ve always believed an appropriate hand-signal for a cyclist to alert other road users of their intention to turn left or right, or change lane, is an outstretched arm, with a flat palm, at right angles to the body at 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock. The current fashion for one limp finger at hip level pointing at 5 o’clock or 7 o’clock, in my humble opinion, does not communicate clearly a change of direction to a driver. To a cyclist, the hand gesture is much more likely to suggest a possible pothole in the road.

I’m not sure if the lack lustre communication I’ve witnessed is unique to London or cities. Perhaps some urban cyclists are weary and feel that it’s not worth signalling ‘properly’ as nobody pays any attention anyway. I’ve certainly been less aware of weak signalling, when I’ve been out in the country, but then I’m usually on a bike myself.

The Geordie, he’s the Mechanic’s cycling mate, has the most spectacular hand–signalling. On a recent ride in the relative quiet roads of Surrey I was delighted to be cycling behind the Geordie and witness a right-hand turn. He thrust his arm into the air, at a 2 o’clock angle rather than 3, with great intention, and repeated the action with vigour three times, much to my amusement.

When we stopped for coffee, I could not help but enquire about the enthusiastic signalling; the Geordie explained that he had been inspired by Father Ted meeting the Chinese. This didn’t really make things clearer to me until I watched the clip later, take a look for yourself – Father Ted meets the Chinese

Although I’m certainly not going to advocate that we all cycle around doing Hitler salutes, it did make me giggle, just the once….or twice.


6 thoughts on “Which way are you going?

  1. LOL! That Father Ted sketch says it all! We have the same issue in the U.S. Most cyclists don’t indicate direction ever – even on the bike tour I did last Sunday, most people never showed directional signals. However, I was pleased when a group of cyclists did the left-arm-right-angle-I’m-turning-right hand gesture I haven’t seen since I was a kid. I simply raise my right arm perpendicular to my body to signal a right turn – same for a left turn. The other rule that needs to be followed is when you’re passing another cyclist, let them know which side you’re passing (i.e. in the U.S. you say, “To your left,” so the other cyclist knows you’re passing.) Once too many times I’ve been startled by someone passing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ha! Next time I am out riding on the streets I am going to think of Father Ted! Cyclists in Minneapolis generally don’t signal at all for the benefit of cars unless they are making left turns in traffic. They do seem to be much better at communicating with other cyclists even to the point of indicating road hazards. I am so paranoid riding in traffic I fling my arms out to signal repeatedly well before the tun!


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