Signal Sensibly

Photo: SFBike on Flickr
10 Secrets to Cycling with Traffic: A 10 part series by Biking TO - Part 5

Today we continue a series of 10 posts about cycling with car traffic. These are things we have learned from years of riding in downtown Toronto. Some of these tips you may have seen before in other places, and some will be new.This is not meant to be a complete list... there are more secrets out there... but here are 10 that you'll find very useful.

NOTE: These are geared towards downtown cycling, since that's what I'm most familiar with. These all assume that you already know about proper lighting and safety (i.e. helmets are useful, stopping at red lights is advised, etc.) precautions, and know that riding on sidewalks is one of the most unsafe things you can do, for both pedestrians and yourself.Past tips are found at the bottom of this post.

Tip 5: Signal Sensibly

Drivers are trained to look for signals. Stoplights, stop signs, turn signals, brake lights all of these things catch the attention of a driver. It is what they look for to make sure they don't hit anyone.

Letting them know that you're planning on turning, or coming out into the road more to pass a parked car is just courteous and polite. Traditional hand-signals are traditionally confusing... pointing up means turning right? Pointing left means you're going straight? That's confusing, especially for drivers who don't know about cycling. They may have learned these signals back when they were 16 and getting their driver's license, but they've long since forgotten them.

A far more sensible way to signal (and it's perfectly legal) is to point in the direction you're going. It keeps everyone on the same page. Do it well ahead of any turns, so that drivers know that youíre planning to turn, and they can act accordingly to avoid you.

Stay Tuned: We're posting another tip on Monday!Past Posts in this Series:

Tip 1: Drivers Donít Want to Kill You
Tip 2: Ride in a Straight Line
Tip 3: Play by the Rules
Tip 4: Avoid the "Stoplight Squeeze"

10 
secrets to cycling with traffic