Friday, December 3, 2010

Making your Intentions Known

A crucial aspect of cycling is to make your intentions known to motorists as well as pedestrians and other cyclists. This along with predictability helps to ensure safe and smooth traffic flow. It is all the same reasons why automobile drivers learn to use turn signals, and to follow the rules of the road.
Using turn signals is also very important for cyclists. Most of us know the standard signals, though they have changed somewhat. It used to be left hand out for left turn and left hand raised up for a right turn. Riders are being encouraged to use their right hand outstretched for a right turn. This is simple and leaves no room for ambiguity. The other day I saw a cyclist making the old right turn signal, and I couldn’t be sure whether they were turning or waving to someone in the car next to them.
As well as signaling, make sure you do a shoulder check before signaling, then once again after the signal. Never compromise control of your bike by removing your hand from the handlebar if it is unsafe to do so. The act of turning your head to look beside and behind, often indicates to drivers that you might be planning to make a move.
Having made your intentions known, it is prudent to confirm that the drivers have seen you. Eye contact is an effective way of doing this. Don’t assume that just because someone is looking in your direction that they see you. Communicate your intentions clearly and drivers will appreciate it and respect your right to be sharing the road with them.

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