Cycling Hand Signals for Turning, Stopping and More [DIAGRAM]

When cycling, if you prefer the old-fashioned method of arm-waving to indicator rather than buying state-of-the-art LEDs, that’s fine. But just remember: keeping it simple with bike turning signals is best.

Sure, there are lots of more complex cyclist signals, but they’re of no use if not widely understood by other road users. This is especially important in the UK and US, where cycling is still a minority transport. (if you love a good acronym: remember ‘KISS’: ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid.‘)



Bicycle Turn Signals

Here, we’ll look to explain as succinctly as possible the correct hand turn signals when cycling in different parts of the world, including the left or right turn signal for bicycle users, and stopping or slowing.

It’s imperative while cycling that you always keep drivers and pedestrians around you aware of what you’re doing. Be as predictable as possible. And learn these bike turn signals if you didn’t know them by heart already:



What is the Arm Signal For a Left Turn?

The left turning signals for bikes should be easiest to remember as it’s a pretty universal and self-explanatory move.

What is the correct hand signal for a left turn, then?

  • In the UK: left turn signal involves left arm outstretched horizontally in the direction of the turn. Can extend all fingers or use index finger to point left.
  • In the US: left arm outstretched horizontally in the direction of the turn. Can extend all fingers or use index finger to point left.
  • In Europe: left arm outstretched horizontally in the direction of the turn. Can extend all fingers or use index finger to point left.
    • In particular in busy cycling cities in Netherlands/Germany/Denmark: left arm outstretched horizontally in the direction of the turn. Can extend all fingers or use index finger to point left.


What is the Correct Hand Signal For Indicating a Right Turn?

The right turn signal for bikes is generally the same move as the left but with your other arm, though there is a slight variation on this in certain parts of the world.

  • In the UK: right arm outstretched horizontally in the direction of the turn. Can extend all fingers or use index finger to point right.
  • In the US: generally the same, though it has also been known that right turns can also be indicated in the States by extending your left upper-arm out to the left at 90 degrees to the elbow joint, while angling your forearm vertically upward. The Uniform Vehicle Code in the US recognises both of these, but strongly encourages using your right arm.
  • In Europe: right arm outstretched horizontally in the direction of the turn. Can extend all fingers or use index finger to point right.
    • In particular in busy cycling cities in Denmark: this cycling hotbed is a slight exception – there, and in South Africa, cyclists will extend their right arm horizontally, but with their palms still facing front instead.


What is the Hand Signal For Stopping or Slowing?

  • In the UK: To indicate slowing, extend right arm fully out to the side, palm-down, moving your hand up and down at the wrist. To indicate stopping, the stop hand signal is: extend right arm vertically, palm facing forward.
  • In the US: To indicate slowing or stopping, extend left arm out to the left horizontally, angling forearm vertically downward.
  • In Europe: To indicate slowing or stopping, extend right arm vertically, palm facing forward. Move your hand up and down at the wrist to show you’re about to slow down.
    • In particular in busy cycling cities in Denmark: extend any arm vertically. Can also extend any upper arm out horizontally and make your forearm vertical with palm facing forward.

If you need more help visualising all of these bicycle signals, this bicycle turn signals diagram should help in that regard:



Matthew Chandler

Matthew Chandler

Matthew is a freelance sports journalist from Warrington, England. A keen cyclist, he is a regular contributor to Discerning Cyclist, as well as FourFourTwo, Click Liverpool and Royal Blue Mersey. See Matthew's Muck Rack profile

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