Cyclists are encouraged to indicate when they’re about to turn or change lanes so that other motorists know what they’re doing and to keep traffic flowing smoothly.
However, we generally don’t have lights or blinkers so we have to go with a more rudimentary tool: the arm.
Different cyclists have interpreted the indicator in different ways, some quirkier than others.
So sit up, engage your core and pick the right signal for you.
Sticking the arm out
A classic. People stick their arm out in varying fashions – some straight, some with pointed fingers, some at an angle.
Sheepishly putting the arm out
Like sticking your arm out but with a little less gusto. A go-to for the timid or the tired.
If The Fonz were a cyclist, this would be his signature. It comes in two guises: sticking the arm out and pointing and a cheeky point from the hip.
Thumbs up guy
Everybody’s favourite. They’ll put their arm out, make their move and give the motorist a thumbs up once they’ve cleared.
Cyclists with rhythm will opt for a jazz hand. If you’re not familiar, this action involves putting the arm out (sheepishly or with feeling), splaying the fingers in a star shape and shaking the hand, tambourine-style.
The head tilter
It’s a good idea to give precise indications when you can, but sometimes you just have to use your arms to brake and/or steer. This cyclist takes it to a new level, literally going head first.
A tricky one to read, this cyclist might veer off the road unannounced, leaving you to figure out what on earth they’re doing.
Can you get indicators for bikes?
Yes you can. Many indicators started life on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, but you’ll need to shell out a fair wad of cash to get them.
WingLights, as seen on Dragon’s Den, fit into the hollows on the ends of many handlebars. When you turn, you bop on the direction you want to go in and the light comes on. It’ll switch off automatically after 45 seconds to save battery. Better hope you’re not trapped in that box junction for too long!
You can get a pair of fixed lights for £26.99 and a pair of magnetic lights for £37.99. If you want something a little cheaper, there’s a range of indicator lights and brake lights on Amazon.
Those who want to keep toasty in the winter can opt for indicator gloves. Zackees do cushy-looking bike gloves which let road users know when you’re about to make a turn. They’re available on Amazon for a rather hefty £84.99.
Sometimes it pays to use your head when it comes to road safety. The Lumos bike helmet has white LED lights in the front and red LEDs in the back which are activated by a remote which you stick on your handlebars. It even senses when you’re slowing down and puts on backlights for the benefit of road users behind you.
Hopefully you won’t need to get this helmet replaced in a hurry as it costs a substantial £159.99. It does come in five colours though, so there’s that.
Sending mixed (hand) signals
Of course, cyclists do far more than turning corners or changing lane. Over time we’ve established methods of keeping other road users in the know with hand signals.
Some of these are in the Highway Code, others not so much. How many do you recognise and, better yet, how many do you actually use on the road?
A right inconvenience for cyclists is that we don’t have brake lights to let others know we’re slowing down, which can cause problems when a seemingly phantom pedestrian appears on a crossing.
To deal with this, stretch your arm out, palm facing down and slightly behind you, and wave it up and down.
Sometimes you have to stop altogether. In this case you stick your hand straight above your head.
It’s worth shouting ‘stopping!’ as well if you have to brake abruptly.
Group cycling is all about swift action and subtlety, perfectly reflected in the come through hand gesture.
Invite fellow cyclists through by flicking your elbow away from you. Easing off the pedals will help cement the message.
London cyclists will be familiar with all kinds of road hazards. As you come up to the hazard, take the arm on the side of the hazard and point it across your back in the direction that cyclists would need to move in to dodge it.
Potholes are slightly different. On the approach to one of the blighters, stretch your arm out and point towards it. Circle your hand if you can.
We all know that there’s a touch of animosity between cyclists and motorists, so let’s try and keep things sweet on the road.
If a driver or another cyclist gives way to you, raise your hand to about chest level as a mark of thanks. It might also help to take a leaf from thumbs up guy – there’s a reason why they’re so popular.
So, which indicator are you? Have you spotted any of the others when you’ve been out cycling or are there others we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.