How to Signal on a Bike

Cycling in a group or solo is fun but you must be aware of some of the basic hand signals. Understanding what another rider is trying to convey is an art and a language that you must master with time. It is important to predict the move other riders are going to make and be aware of your presence on the road.

While it is tempting to speed on a straight road, any turns or upward biking makes it essential to use hand signals because of the absence of blinkers that motor vehicles have. Pedestrians may face inconvenience due to this, as you need to caution them when they are walking or crossing a bicycle lane.

Why is it important to signal on a Bike?

  • To Create Awareness: As you ride past a lane and want to cross over to the other side of the street, you have to let other vehicles and pedestrians know what you are going to do on the road to avoid major accidents
  • To Avoid Traffic Accidents: Traffic on the roads can often scare you and make you feel insecure. However, knowing the basic 8 hand signals such as stop, left turn, right turn, etc. are some of the important hand signals that all motorists understand. These simple signals will help you to stay safe on the road and prevent you from being knocked off.
  • To Not Speed: Speed thrills. Yet, riding a bike without a helmet or not knowing hand signals is equal to inviting trouble onto yourselves.
  • To Ride Safe at Night: Wearing brightly colored and reflective clothing will help you ride safely during the night time since visibility is poor then. Moreover, with no proper lighting system on your bike, hand signaling is a preventive measure that must be practiced to alert others on the road.
  • For a Safe Ride: As per best practices, ride on the right side of the road. If the roads are curved or have many bends, then you must slow down and wait for other heavy vehicles to pass. Ringing the bell and then cycling forward is always advised. Another practice is to slow down near a bend and then hand signal the other vehicle to stop and let you pass through the turning or near narrow lanes.
Young Businesswoman Showing Turn On Bicycle

Hand Signals for Riding a Bike

Learn the basic hand signals and practice them in a lane with no or less traffic in order to learn how to act while riding in a congested and heavy traffic road. Following traffic rules is necessary and understanding shorter routes to work in order to avoid traffic are the best ways to zoom past and enjoy your ride.

Here is a list of the basic hand signals that you must learn if you are riding a bike.

Right Turn and Alternative Right Turn: Extend and Bend your left arm in a 90-degree angle with your elbow facing upward for the other rider to know that you are turning right. Many simply use the right arm horizontally, as it is simpler to recognize. You may learn and use both these signals as a part of the Uniform Vehicle Code.

Left Turn: Show your left arm by extending it horizontally with all the fingers pointing out. The index finger pointing to the left makes it easy for other motorists to understand that you are going to take the left turn.

Moving Over: Riding on the cycling lane is often frustrating, as other cyclists may not pay attention and you have to concentrate more on the road. You may want to move over to the other side but for this you must first signal them using your left arm, with all the fingers pointing downward except for the index finger so that the rider behind you is aware and will not hit you from behind.

Slowing and Stopping: Extend your left arm downward at a 90-degree angle and with all the fingers pointing down. Continue to keep swinging the arm in and out and hold your head back for other riders to understand that you are slowing down and that you are going to stop soon.

Slowing and Stopping: Alternatively, you can put your left arm on your back with the palm open and fingers pointing out for others to understand that you are slowing down. This will prevent them from crashing into you as you stop.

Always be alert when riding in traffic. A new biker needs to pay a lot of attention and learn the rules and hand signals while riding solo or as a group. While riding as a group, make sure that other riders too follow safety rules. Maintain eye contact with the drivers while trying to maneuver. Keep calm in situations where other motorists compromise on your safety. Shouting will only tense the situation and make you feel lethargic to ride again.

Man on bicycle presses on brake

Points to Remember:

  • Often while riding we tend to ride very fast. However, maintain at least one-meter distance between other bikes and vehicles. This will prevent any sudden accidents.
  • Never ride on the left side of the road. It is a punishable offense and increases the chances of collision.
  • Always give time and warning on your arrival. Do not assume that others are aware of your presence. Instead use hand signals effectively and leave no room for other drivers to be unsure about where you are heading.
  • If you are caught up in traffic and want to take a left turn, then signal properly and move slowly.
  • Do not plug your ear phones or listen to anything on high volume while riding in traffic. This leads to distractions and causes accidents, which can even kill you and fellow drivers.


Bike riding has a lot to do with etiquettes, as it involves ample one-way communication about your next move onto the other side of the road or while taking a turn. Take time and practice riding on roads with lesser traffic to be well versed with hand signals and then try out daily bike rides.