Toronto Mike

Bike Hand Signals: The Lost Art

Biking Signals: The Lost Art

When I first started writing 5 Toronto Biking Tips, it was titled "10 Toronto Biking Tips and Observations", but I decided to cap it at five in an effort to make it more digestable.  That meant leaving a few key tips on the cutting room floor.  It's time to remedy that. We'll consider this #6.

While biking this afternoon, I started thinking about my old friend Ed.  Ed and I met at St. Pius X primary school and became good friends by the time we went off to different high schools.

When I first started biking all over the city, it was because of Ed.  I was about 14 and we both had new mountain bikes.  Although Ed was only six weeks older than me, he grew up without a father and seemed far more savvy and independent.  He's the reason I applied for a job at the CNE.  He also helped me with bike repairs, mapped out new routes to explore and, in his Air Cadets way, made sure we followed the rules of the road.

One of the first things Ed taught me about biking was to always signal.  I've been doing so ever since.  It's become a subconscious action.  I not only signal when I'm turning right or left, but when I'm slowing down or stopping.  This seems to be a lost art.

Here's a quick reminder with images scanned from the 1977 owners manual for a Sears bicycle.

Turning Left

Extend left arm straight out in the direction of the turn, horizontally.


Turning Right

Extend your left upper-arm out to the left, horizontally and angle your forearm vertically upward.


Stopping / Braking

Extend your left upper arm out to the left, horizontally and angle your forearm vertically downward.


Signal always!  And Ed, if you're out there, thanks!

If you get hit by a car you may want to hire this bicycle accident lawyer.

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