View Full Version : signaling a turn or lane change - are you a wrist-flicker or a bird wing?

10-24-2007, 01:27 PM
With the two recent deaths of cyclists, I've been paying a lot more attention to my visibility on the road.

One of the things I've noticed about other cyclists are the remarkably subtle hand-signals they give to indicate they are turning or switching lane...I've been calling it the wrist-flick.

I'm not sure if it is a cool factor or what, but most cyclists signals consist of a crook of the wrist and a pointed finger to indicate the intent to turn.

Even on a bicycle I barely notice the signal. If I were in my car...I'm even less likely to notice it. I guess the wrist flick has become an annoying cycling affectation to me when balanced against my concern about safety and visibility.

Me, personally, I flap my arms like a bird (well, not really). But my arm sticks straight out from my body. Nothing subtle about it. A big movement will be more noticed than a small movement. And, when a driver makes eye contact or otherwise acknowledges my presence, I take the lane and give the driver a thumbs-up.

Anyways, I encourage more riders to stay visible and make a better effort to ensure your arm-signals are a lot more visible. My two-cents. Ride safe.

10-24-2007, 02:24 PM
When I'm commuting, I wear GloGlovs, day or night. If I'm trying to get to where I can turn left across SW Walker Rd, you can be darn sure my arm is out and my hand is flapping.

I figure this isn't the place to be subtle.

10-24-2007, 06:52 PM
The wrist flick is pretty useful downtown when keeping up with traffic and I'm just changing lanes. Visibility isn't a huge issue then, more of a curtesy and I don't need them to think I am making a turn and try to blow past me.

Other than that (or very slick streets, 2 hands!) its probably best to be very visible.

10-24-2007, 10:26 PM
Arms straight out and up and down point with hand flicking at wrist similar to the frequency of a car turn signal. Lynnef's GloGlovs sound like a good idea, though they sound like some kind of fancy cycling gear I haven't seen. They probably glow at night...good idea. I've been using some of those bright yellow fuzzy fabric work gloves. They don't look as cool as cycling gloves, but they're visible, warm and cheap.

If I'm negotiating an intersection regulated by stop signs, I even point straight ahead if that's my intended direction. It helps to eliminate any question on the part of drivers about your understanding of a given situation and what you're going to do. Eye contact is good, and I see drivers looking for and appreciating it from me when I ride, but a lot of the time, the glare on window glass makes it hard for me to be sure that they've seen me glance over to them. So I figure that additional directional specific hand signaling is probably helpful.

10-25-2007, 07:28 AM
... I notice I care a lot less about being cool and pay more attention to staying alive. Also, on finding the law states 100 feet of continuous signal, I experimented with what that is like in practice.
It feels stupid to signal for that long for one thing, and in most of PDX, a 100 feet covers a lot of places to turn. I think signalling that long confuses the car drivers on where I plan to turn. In my opinion the law was written by people who had no clue the practical aspects of it.
I try for real strong, clear signals, but there are times where it seems like a waste or is impractical. If there is nobody close enough to be affected or I need to control the bike, then I will do the 'wrist flick'.
On a humorous side note, I am amazed at how many people will 'wave back' at my traditional right turn signal, thinking that I am waving to them. At least, I know they saw me.

10-25-2007, 08:22 AM
I stick my arm straight out and point in the direction I'm going to turn and I take the lane I need to be in for the turn I'm going to make. I also try to make eye contact with anyone approaching. Seems simple but in some circumstances is quite difficult but doable.
And for all those on wheels who have no idea what they're doing, I give them the little finger wave as a thanks for the little regard, respect, or responsibility they have as operators of a vehicle.

10-25-2007, 11:07 AM
I find I don't extend my arm very far when negotiating downtown. I like to keep my body mass as tucked in as possible. I ride a short-wheelbase road bike with skinny 700cs most day and low-speed stability isn't really its thing.

Oh, I'm a right-arm right-signal guy, too. With a smart little wrist snap.

10-25-2007, 11:22 AM
Full arm extension straight out on the left-turn signaling; I'll add a finger flick like a car turn signal for style and additional visibility.

For right turns, it's the ol' left arm bent at the elbow pointing at the sky, sometimes with fingers curled in, sometimes with all fingers extended up. Mostly with the curled-in fingers though, so people don't think I'm waving.

I totally want thos GoGloves for Christmas.... they sound awesome. Think they'll "go" with my 100% reflective illumiNite jacket? :)

The "flick of the fingers" just off the handlebars (or not even off the handlebars) is for saying howdy to other cyclists, along with a head bob.

10-25-2007, 11:41 AM
I've noticed my signal visibility is dependent on what's going on around me. More often than not, I'm not signalling at all, because nobody is there to see it. when I do signal, I've also noticed it depends on which direction I'm turning. If it's left I signal straight out, but if right, then I think my visibility is may appear more like scratching my helmet than indicating an intent to turn. Something about an awkwardness with left hand up.

I'll work on doing better.

BTW are the Glo-gloves wind resistant?

10-25-2007, 12:03 PM
GloGlovs go over whatever gloves I'm wearing. And they are VERY inexpensive.

Go here: (http://www.glogloves.com/)

You can get them here: (http://www.shop.pedigreen.com/category.sc?categoryId=13)

I've got the original model.

11-09-2007, 11:13 AM
I usually will do the full arm extension if the situation allows it.. like non slick streets and enough time before the turn.... but If I'm in a pinch a nice attention getting hand flicker does the trick...

11-12-2007, 08:53 AM
I full-arm point in the direction I'm turning. For lane changes, or coming out of the bike lane, I'll do a less vigorous point, but more than a wrist flick. Wrist flicks are for signaling other bikes.

I think the glo-gloves are a good idea. I've noticed that while driving at night, it's very hard to see cyclists' hand signals. Case in point: at a 4 way stop with 2-3 cyclists facing me, their lights were so bright I couldn't see that one of them was signaling a left turn. Don't assume cars can see your hand signals at night.