Take the 2-minute tour ×
Bicycles Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who build and repair bicycles, people who train cycling, or commute on bicycles. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am interested in buy a turn signal light for bicycles. I read something about here and in other websites, but I did not find a answer for the follow questions:

  • For the point of view of a driver, is it better a hand signal or if you use a turn signal light?

  • Does safety increase if you use it? For how much (do you know any statistics about?)?

  • What are your personal opinion? I think a bit difficult to equilibrate while making signals with my hand and arm, so I thought about using these lights. Since cars are not familiar with bike in streets (where I live at least), I thought about using a super strong turn signal lights.

  • Do you recommend any?

Thanks

share|improve this question
2  
One issue is separation between the left and right signal lights. If the light isn't clearly on one side or the other observers will struggle to tell which way, if any, the rider is turning. It might just be an orange blinky light used as a headlight or taillight. –  Mσᶎ Jun 10 at 4:57
    
There was recently a kickstarter for turn signal gloves. A yellow LED or 3 in a wristband would have a similar effect - then you get both the arm signal and the flashing yellow indicator. Combined with red rear lights on bike and helmet/body this would give the separation discussed below. –  Chris H Jun 10 at 11:30
    
I'm just thinking, might there be a legal view here? I'm just thinking if the bike regs where you are stipulate that you must particularly use hand signals? I know, such a law would be nonsense, but that doesn't seem to stop them! –  PeteH Jun 10 at 11:44
    
somewhere I've seen indicator lights that go in the end of flat bars (so they're visible from the front, rather than just the back as the drop bar ones are). I might have been a kickstarter, but if someone knows can they post a link? I want some :) –  Mσᶎ Jun 18 at 5:27

4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I'd recommend learning to do arm signals.

Arm signals don't run out of batteries, and are plenty visible in most cases. They're certainly bigger than the turn signal lights you could put on a bicycle (which as Moz points out in a comment, makes distinguishing the 2 turn signals a possible issue), and the distance you need to see a bike turning is a lot smaller than that which you need to see a car turning.You also have to worry about running wires from the back to front if you only have one power source (and the indicator switch isn't wireless) and worry about bags or other things obscuring the lights. Your handlebar area also becomes a bit more cluttered for a turn signal anyway, esp if you have trigger shifters. And you have to deal with the potential of the lights getting stolen.

At night, the primary value would be moreso the extra light rather than the fact that it was a turn signal light, and you can get that just by putting on a bigger head and tail light.

You'll get used to balancing while doing them after a few weeks of riding, typically. And in any case, you need to know how to do them when your batteries run out.

IMO, the primary use of turn signals on a bike is less-so that you know which way a turn is happening, but moreso that the drivers know the cyclist is going to do something and be prepared for it (a sentiment echoed by one of the comments).

share|improve this answer
5  
Plus there's the simple fact that no one expects turn signals on a bike and therefore won't readily recognize them for what they are. I'm old enough to remember when turn signals on motorcycles were fairly new things, and that was the problem with them then. Drivers simply didn't recognize them as turn signals. It took years of having them mandatory on all motorcycles before you could count on drivers recognizing them. –  Carey Gregory Jun 10 at 3:48
1  
@CareyGregory motorists often struggle with hand or arm signals too, because few cyclists use them. That's a whole 'nother discussion though. –  Mσᶎ Jun 10 at 4:58
1  
@Mσᶎ people tend to understand well enough if you point to where you're going though. –  nhinkle Jun 10 at 5:55
1  
@nhinkle People tend to see the arm gesture well after they see the cyclist, if they see the gesture. It's less about understanding-after-they-see and more about how long it takes to get to that point. –  Mσᶎ Jun 10 at 6:15
1  
In the US I see a lot of motorcycle riders use the hand signals as well in high visibility areas (busy highways) so motorist are understanding when they see it. My driving portion of my drivers education had us demonstrate them, but that was only 1 time and 15 minutes at that. Make it obvious it is a hand signal by keeping it stiff and straight, not flapping around or "waving to your neighbor". As for doing it from a car (like my classic car with a unresolved issue), I think I'm the only person that uses them. –  BPugh Jun 10 at 14:29

Learn to look back while riding straight. That is much more important than making any signal. Also the movement of the head is usually a good indication to the driver behind of what your intentions are.

share|improve this answer
    
And also communicate by taking the right position on the road, move to the left side of the road before the actual turn left. It's a clear indication of what your planning to do, and you're out of the way of the car behind you more quickly when you make the turn. –  AVee Sep 19 at 21:51

Suggested compromise: Hand signals, but wear reflective material on your arms to make those signals more visible.

share|improve this answer

I think turn signals on bicycle are a silly idea. As a motorcycle rider, I know that cars ignore turn signals. Motorbikes and bicycles are invisible to cars.

On my bicycle, I do my hand signals (especially the left turns in the USA where I'm crossing against traffic) in conjunction with looking back and making eye-contact with whatever homicidal cager is threatening to run me down. I also signal lane shifts the same way. Hand signals are a visible claiming of space and the head turn / eye-contact is a critical part of this.

(On my motorbike, I tend do lane changes with hand signals. Pointing to the space that I'll occupy along with a death glare at the car behind me is much more effective than a little blinker).

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.