Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Cycling tip du jour, Tuesday. How to stick out your hand and indicate

Bicycle indication appears to be a dying art. Yet if ever I'm driving a car, I find it incredibly useful to know if:

1) a bike's suddenly going to turn right
2) which exit they're planning on getting off the roundabout on
3) if the cyclist is planning on nipping round a slowing down bus or lorry
4) generally, any information is gold dust in terms of knowing what they're about to do

Well, I was thinking about this quite a bit today as I biked across London, and was again struck by how many cyclists don't bother. It's actually quite easy once you've practiced a bit, so a few ideas:

Looking back and signalling: Source
 - in a car we're told "mirror, signal, manoeuvre". We don't normally have the mirror bit, so I'd generally advocate: "glance back, signal, manoeuvre".
- indicate giving the maximum notice
- stick that arm out boldly and with confidence, don't do it half-heartedly
- if you're sure the car behind you has clocked you and knows what you're about to do, start your turn with confidence
- there's always a tricky bit when you start turning - this is the moment to grab both handle-bars. You DO NOT want to start your manoeuvre with only one hand!

When I'm doing a little nip around a stationary bus or something, I try to incorporate a friendly wave at the driver behind me too - though arguably this is taking things too far. But it's good to acknowledge that a driver has often slowed down to let you pull out.

I'm often also heard to mutter "thanks for not killing me" but I tend to keep that to myself.

Good luck. KC

PS there's a good site Montgomery Bicycle Class which gives some good tips on this


ian... said...

Hi Chris & nice post.

The only bit I've started doing different is not worrying whether both hands are on the handlebars - the bolt upright dutchbike I've just bought is an absolute breeze to stop/start/turn/indicate/wave/carry out 'other signals to errant motorists' single handed as no bodyweight is carried on the hands.

On the other hand I nearly wobbled off my ex-roadbike carrying a bottle of milk home from the corner shop riding one handed, so on a 'head down arse up' machine, two hands everytime :>D

ibikelondon said...

Like Ian I find signalling on my uprigh very easy (indeed, I quite often cycle with only one hand anyway - does that make me reckless?) I like to put one hand in my pocket and swap from side to side when the other one gets cold.

The only thing I'd add to your tip is signal with the palm of your hand. That is to say rather than just putting your arm out actually twist it so that the palm is facing the driver. There's something psychologically inherent about the universality of the 'stop' gesture of the palm turned out that seems to work and people always seem give me the space to move across the lanes. Works for me anyway!

Chutzpah84 said...

Your final step:

"there's always a tricky bit when you start turning - this is the moment to grab both handle-bars. You DO NOT want to start your manoeuvre with only one hand!"

...made me laugh. Purely because as I was cycling home the other night I was approaching a left turn that I needed to take. Signalled as usual, whilst keeping an eye on the pedestrian walking towards me on the pavement with his head down.

Arm out arm out arm out.... gah, need to make the turn and he still hasn't looked up as he gets to the kerb of the junction. Still he's on the opposite side of the road and I'll easily clear him before he gets even quarter of the way across.

Rather predictably though, he looks up as I begin to make the turn, and with barely one foot on the road as he crosses all I hear is "stupid CYCLISTS! Don't forget to SIGNAL!"

I carried on, deciding he wasn't worth my time.

KarmaCycle said...

Ha ha - I like that story Chutzpah84 - I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes I feel like it's not worth doing everything right - unless there's someone to see you doing it! Silly I know. The worst thing, which I'm afraid I keep banging on about on this blog - is when you're asked to "dismount". Again, you feel good about doing so, only if there's someone there to behold your virtue!

Ian - thanks for the extra comment - hadn't quite counted on bikes which are ... "easy" to ride with one hand - but of course you're right. Guess road bikes are not really designed for a baguette under the arm and a few other bits of shopping about one's person!

And Mark - thanks for the tip re the palm of the old hand, it's a good one. It does make me wonder though if gloves should be made a bit more ... garish - or possibly with lights - so in the dark cars can really see what you're up to.

Thanks all - great comments.