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Hand Signals for Cyclists

By Sarah Bonner

Signals-StopGood communication on the road between cyclists and other traffic is essential for safe cycling, especially when you’re riding in a group. Hand signals are often the quickest and easiest way to indicate potential dangers and actions and are meant to be passed down by each cyclist from the first cyclist to the last.

In the Group

Attention: The most used, multipurpose hand signal is a simple pointed finger or a flat palm alerting the rider behind you of an obstacle, be it a pothole, street furniture or debris, used on the side of the obstacle itself. Sometimes riders may add a finger snap or slap the side of their leg to draw more attention.

Signals-Tuck-inOncoming Obstacle/Tuck In: To indicate an oncoming obstacle, usually traffic, or an area where the group needs to be single file, a flat hand and arm motion telling riders to “tuck in” behind you will keep everyone safe.

In Traffic

Turn signals: Predictable cyclists are safe cyclists in traffic. Always signal whether you are going left, right or even straight in some cases. A simple extended arm with a pointed finger indicating where you plan to go does the trick.

Slow down/Stop: Useful for cyclists and cars behind you, a downward facing palm at the side of your leg with a patting motion will let others know you are slowing down or stopping.

In the Race

Signals-RotateRotate: A downward pointed finger and whirlpool motion of the wrist indicates that you want riders to rotate through to share the workload on the front in an organized fashion.

Roll Through: When you’re working hard on the front and you want the next rider to roll through, a flick of your elbow will let them know you are rolling off and that it is their turn to work.


Sarah Bonner the author of two e-articles, How To Use A Foam Roller: An Illustrated Guide for Cyclists and The Clean Girl’s Guide to Cycling: How to Clean Everything from Bar Tape to Sports Bras, has lived and cycled in Canada, Africa, and Europe. Currently, she splits her time between the Netherlands and South Africa where she trains and competes at an amateur level. With a Masters in English and a Diploma in Sports Management, Sarah combines her love of writing and passion for cycling to share honest advice and inspiring stories. Follow her at sarahkimbonner.wordpress.com


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