Cycling Hand Signals – why aren’t these in the Highway Code?

These are the signals only understood (as far as I know) by trained club cyclists. I have never seen them in any basic bike books. I am not sure if they are in the cycling proficiency test as I never took one.

I only discovered that there are special ‘cycling’ hand signals in Cycling Active (April’s edition).

and here are a few of them:

1) I am Slowing Down – extended hand moving up and down as if pushing towards the ground.

2) Point Out Potholes – extended hand pointing towards pothole – handy if there is someone close behind you.

3) Large hazard – hand waved broadly across the ground or sometimes waved front to back like a brush stroke.

4) SUGGEST MOVE OUT (lycra lingo ‘4 OUT’)- suggests action to avoid a hazard on the inside such as a parked car (arm behind back, and two fingers pointed in a pistol position flat against back towards OUT direction (not at the stupid driver!)

5) SUGGEST MOVE IN (lycra lingo ‘5 IN’- hand placed round back, as above, but hand towards the pavement (not to be used of there is a pile of glass there).

I tend to use the SLOW one a lot and generally shout P O T H O L E !

I never knew any of the other signals as I suppose we commuters aren’t acquainted with them. I don’t suppose people know them even on Cycle Fridays and at Critical Mass unless they are proper ‘roadies’. I never even came across them on my London to Paris bike ride either and we weren’t even given a sheet of them at the beginning of the ride or even at the London to Brighton Bike. And I encounted a massive pothole on that ride too, which was quite scary, right at the tend. Hand signals like these should be for all cyclists, not just for ‘secret society’ club cyclists.

Cyclist Boris Johnson rabbits on about road safety etc but surely cyclists need to know about these useful signals. Does Boris know them himself?

I think most bike commuters are more familiar with the left/right hand signals, the ‘slow down one’, the ‘thumbs up’ and the ‘London ‘V’ sign.

Perhaps if more cyclists used hand signals then it would be safer and there would be a better sense of community. Maybe there could be a sign warning cyclists of Lorries? ie ie junctions? ie KEEP CLEAR or I AM WAITING TILL LORRY GOES

I also think that the Highway Code should have a special section for cyclists’ road safety signs, they have them for horse riders. Also motorists, when they get their Halfords bike out of the shed once a year, will be a little more educated too.

Or is it just me to things such weirdy ‘female logic’ thoughts? I just can’t believe the leisure and commuter brigade aren’t made aware of these.

I will try and use them when out with my bf, well, that’s when I can stop him being a lazy sod and using the tube from Leytonstone to Leyton:-)

I think also it is great for cyclists who are hard of hearing and my bf is a bit deaf.


2 responses to “Cycling Hand Signals – why aren’t these in the Highway Code?

  1. A nice summary, but there are other conventions, too – particularly when riding in a group. Holding a hand at shoulder height palm forward often denotes ‘stop’ or you can do the ‘slow down’ but with the palm facing the rider behind. I’ve seen German cyclists raise one finger as an instruction to a group to get into single file to pass an obstacle. British cyclists might also shout the name of the obstacle, particularly if they need to keep hands on bars to get round it – eg, “Holes!”, “Badger!” and so on. If you want a cyclist behind you to pass, flick your elbow. In a group, shouting “Car up!” denotes a car approaching from behind; “Car down!” is one approaching from in front. I’m sure there are more…

  2. jackgreen88

    I know the obvious ones of pointing to Potholes and I often give this if on a Critical Mass or if a Cyclists is behind me and I want to warn them to be careful. Also the Hand waving up and down to slow down from my Car Driving Days in 1987, but the Fingers behind the back to keep in or out I did not know about. Or the finger in the Air to go in single File.

    There is also the signal when coming to a Junction on the left and you want to warn Cars behind that you want to go straight ahead and do not cut me off by going around that Corner in front of me,so you put your Arm to the right to warn them you are going straight ahead.

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