Cyclists who ride on or near public roads are often acutely aware of their risks. Even when a cyclist is incredibly careful, negligent drivers create constant dangers on the road.
The average driver doesn’t think enough about their obligation to share the road with cyclists. They may look right past a bicycle next to them or across the intersection from their vehicle.
As a cyclist, you want to protect yourself with defensive cycling practices. You also need to think about visibility and how effectively you communicate with drivers near you on the road. Properly signaling your intentions when you stop at an intersection or plan a maneuver can reduce your risk of getting hit by a driver. How do cyclists signal?
California traffic laws include rules for signaling turns and stops
The average car has lights to tell others nearby about a driver’s upcoming turn or their braking. A cyclist must use their body to accomplish the same thing.
A cyclist who intends to turn left must hold their left arm out in a straight line from their shoulder as they approach the turn. Drivers intending to turn to the right should do so with their right arm, a 90-degree angle at the elbow, with the fingers pointing toward the sky. Those intending to brake must hold their left arm out at a 90-degree angle with the fingers pointing down.
Taking your hand off of the handlebars may make you nervous. It’s also possible that drivers may not notice or misunderstand hand signals. Many cyclists invest in illuminated LED turn signals to install on their bikes. Just like the turn signals in a vehicle, flipping a switch on the handlebar will light up the small turn signals, advising vehicles to the front and back of your bike about your intended maneuver.
Drivers may try to blame you for their negligence
The sad truth for cyclists is that you pay the price when drivers make bad decisions. Consistently following traffic rules and investing in after-market upgrades, like LED turn signals, can reduce your risk of a crash and of getting blamed for one if it occurs.
When traffic cameras or other drivers back up your claim that you appropriately announced your intent to turn or stop to other vehicles nearby, you will have an easier time holding in negligent driver responsible for hitting you.
Complying with traffic laws and thinking about your risk can reduce the chances of a major cycling crash during your next ride.