This means I’m turning!

Before I get to the main point of this post, let me mention that I was thwarted from riding my bike today.  Last night a severe storm knocked out power for about 18 hours.  No electricity meant my garage door opener would not work and my bike was trapped inside (a detached garage).  That’s something I never considered before.  I guess there’s some sort of mechanical opener on the inside, but figuring all that out early in the morning was beyond me.  So I took the L train instead.  Boo.

And now for something completely different.

Bike Snob recently mentioned (which means made fun of)  a Kickstarter project for creating a turning signal bike glove.  While the idea of a bike turning signal is…interesting, I prefer to use old fashioned hand signals that no one understands.  When I feel like increasing visibility, lately I’ve been using this slap bracelet that came in my bike-to-work week goodie bag.

That’s right – slap bracelet.  Remember those?

Makes me think of Smurfs and Fruity Pebbles.

When I’m not wearing the slap bracelet, I keep it slapped on the handle of my pannier.  I’m not really big on neon, but this thing is so easy and increases my false sense of security, so I haven’t found a reason not to carry it.

Do you do anything to make your turning intentions more visible?

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24 thoughts on “This means I’m turning!

  1. RobW says:

    Well, I run with dual headlights so I “flash” the turn signal by covering and uncovering the appropriate front bulb. This doesnt help the poor person behind me, so I do the traditional arm signals as well. The frustrating moment comes when the “too nice” oncoming driver decides to totally yeild to me, when I’m expecting them to go ahead leaving me standing dead center of the intersection to turn left. This is usually followed by the dual false start, and nosedive of both car and bike. Its nice that they are nice, but dangerous when they arent predictable. I have yet to see a license plate, or lamp that says “you first” :-)

  2. Dave says:

    Flail wildly :)

  3. Lynn says:

    Drivers rarely react when I signal that I need to merge/turn left, but then when I turn my head to check the lane they seem to get the idea that I’m going to do something other than ride in a straight line and either slow down to let me turn or zoom past as if slowness were contagious. So for me, it’s the signal + head turn that works best. I’m not sure if that’s because turning my head somehow communicates intent better, or because I used to teach middle school students and I’ve got the “You know what you’re supposed to be doing!” state down pat.

    • Steve A says:

      Lynn’s experience is one reason that we teach cycling students to scan, then, signal, then scan once more before moving. The initial scan serves both to let you know what the situation and signal timing might be, and it also really grabs the attention of most motorists.

  4. omg, slap bracelets!! i actually made a bracelet with reflective tape on it. it was a little d.i.y. thing i did back them but it works!! pointing too with lots of eye contact and sometimes communicating, only if i feel like drivers, pedestrians, etc aren’t paying any attention to me. i like the slap bracelet better, i’m sure you could start making them a trend for cycling.

    • BikeBike says:

      The one thing I try to do that works everytime is to make eye contact with the motorists following while I am signalling my intentions.

  5. Sigrid says:

    “old fashioned hand signals that no one understands”, I had to chuckle at this with a tinge of sadness. I once put my arm straight out to turn left, went left and at the next intersection the lady in the car behind me and I were parallel. She was all upset with me and mimicked my signal asking what it meant in an angry tone and I told her “that I was turning left” and she said dumbfounded, “oh”. Yes, sorry lady, my hand signal was not a personal assault. Yikes. I remember the days when me and my peers not only learned to ride bicycles, but were taught the proper hand signals to communicate our intentions on the road we share with drivers. Am I turning into my grandfather thinking the world is going to hell in a handbasket – maybe. I continue to go the old fashioned route and quickly snap out my arm and make it distinct, not halfway signals, it is either straight to the left or a 90 degree angle to the right.

  6. Eli says:

    I know very few people around here who bother with the traditional hand signals. Left hand points left for a left turn; right hand points right for a right turn.

    I have a friend who does this wild thing with his arm when he’s getting ready to turn: he takes the directional hand off the handlebar and makes a circle across his body and over his head, ending with the finger pointing in the direction he’s turning. Then he does it again. It’s almost like a turn signal flashing. It looks goofy, but it’s certainly noticeable.

    Our power went out in a storm a few weeks ago, and my bike were trapped inside for almost a week. I was quite grumpy and put out; here’s hoping you get yours back sooner.

  7. Lauren says:

    i don’t use the traditional hand signals because, like you said, no one really knows what they mean. i just stick out whichever arm & point haha. eye contact is the best, though! it takes a real asshole to cut you off after you’ve looked him/her dead in the eye :)

    i like your neon bracelet!

  8. Parker says:

    I like your “slap bracelet”. When visibility is low (night, fog, rain), I use these:

    http://www.gloglov.com

    They were invented by the wife of a police officer, to use while directing traffic; I use the bicyclist version. They have a few disadvantages I should mention: they’re lightly made and prone to unravel (easily mended), and the “padding” on the palm is just for grip, not padding. Nonetheless, they make my signals clearly visible. Thanks!

  9. Tiny Homestead says:

    yep, I use the slap bracelets too. Mine are orange. From the local health department.

  10. Julia says:

    I have several reflective velcro bands, for holding my pants legs in so they don’t rub on the chain. I usually get them at the MEC but I am sure regular bicycle stores sell similar objects.

    http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCTprd_id=845524442241251&FOLDERfolder_id=2534374302693017

  11. anniebikes says:

    I’ve almost but given up using the traditional right turn signal (bent elbow, raised left arm) because it seems that no one understands this anymore. It’s scary for the cyclist and because we are the vulnerable ones we are forced to adapt to be visible to the drivers. The odd part is gripping the left front brake while sticking out the right arm…I don’t want to go over the handlebars.

    Thanks for the wonderful hint about the orange slap bracelets. My kids used to get those as prizes from the dentist. Maybe I should ask and dig in the goody basket the next time my teeth are cleaned. I’m always amazed at the simple solutions. Thank you.

    • Anonymous says:

      People around here mostly do the point with the right arm thing, and a lot of times when I use the traditional signal people think I’m waving at them and wave back.

      I have thouht of the LED glove myself! With arrows on it that point right or left when you signal the old fashioned way. But so far I haven’t done anything except occupy lane space like a car, and signal.

  12. Maureen says:

    I think the neon (or diy reflective) slap bracelets are a simple way to go about trying to be a bit safer while cycling! TFS!

  13. Luke says:

    I wear red mountain biking gloves sometimes – usually when I’m biking to the trails. I’m not sure how well they work, better than a bare hand, hopefully.

    I also usually look, signal, look. All the head turning usually gets the drivers’ attention.

  14. Matt T74 says:

    No one said it so FYI: to manually lift the garage door simply pull the rope/cable hanging down from the garage door opener unit. This disables the chain and you can raise or lower the door. Of course if it doesn’t have a lock, you’ll either have to go inside and re-engage the unit (by pushing the part you pulled down up) or leave your door unlocked. If the door is open and you pull that rope though, be aware the door can quickly roll shut.

  15. Matt T74 says:

    No one said it so FYI: to manually lift the garage door simply pull the rope/cable hanging down from the garage door opener unit. This disables the chain and you can raise or lower the door. Of course if it doesn’t have a lock, you’ll either have to go inside and re-engage the unit (by pushing the part you pulled down up) or leave your door unlocked. If the door is open and you pull that rope though, be aware the door can quickly roll shut.

  16. Grandpa says:

    Here’s another Grandpa talking…

    When I was in elementary school, about half of all American kids got to school under their own power, many on bikes. Now it’s maybe 10%.

    In preparation for biking to school, we had bike safety lessons, where we learned the rules of the road, including the hand signals that seem now to be forgotten.

    The intervening 40 years of suburban sprawl have made us not only much fatter, but much dumber as well.

  17. Grandpa says:

    Here’s another Grandpa talking…

    When I was in elementary school, about half of all American kids got to school under their own power, many on bikes. Now it’s maybe 10%.

    In preparation for biking to school, we had bike safety lessons, where we learned the rules of the road, including the hand signals that seem now to be forgotten.

    The intervening 40 years of suburban sprawl have made us not only much fatter, but much dumber as well.

  18. Erica says:

    I’ve started signaling not merely by putting my hand out, but by emphatically pointing in whichever direction I’m going. I don’t know if the extra “hey, look here!” hand motion help or hurt or what, but it seems like a kinetic signal is more noticeable than a simple arm-out. I also signal with my right hand because I’m pretty sure drivers have no idea what a standard right turn signal looks like. We didn’t learn them in the beginning driver’s education class I had six months ago. The slap bracelet is a cute idea, I have some bright bangles I might wear on my next trip out.

    I agree that drivers who let you in to be “nice” really aren’t helping. Usually what happens is that I don’t know whether I’m being let in, or if the driver is frozen at the sight of a bike like a deer in headlights, or if he’s just pausing longer for who knows why. (This is the ONLY time I wish I’d get a beep!) So I eventually figure it out, but he’s gotten tired of waiting so has started his turn. Just go, already! It’s similarly annoying when I’m in the driver’s seat.

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