You often signal on a bike like you signal a car, with your left hand. This lets most people keep their good hand on the handle for steering. Some of my friends, though, signal with their right hand so they can quickly pull the front brake if they need to. Why aren't bikes made with the front brake on the right side, so you get both good steering and emergency braking?

  • This doesn't affect me at all (I bike left-handed), but it's been bothering me for a while.
    – Hovercouch
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 20:45
  • @jimirings I read that question as "why do we have the convention we do", which makes sense. My question is more why we don't modify bikes to make that convention safer.
    – Hovercouch
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 21:12
  • 1
    Answer: it's not. As the question jimirings links to says, the convention varies from place to place, and individuals can easily swap if they want to.
    – Móż
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 21:32
  • Actually, it depends on which side of the ditch you're standing on. Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 21:37

1 Answer 1


Emergency braking with one hand off the bars will end in tears regardless of which hand is on the bars. Skilled riders can steer accurately with either hand and often use their less dominant hand to steer while grabbing food or drink or making adjustment to clothing and bike.

So is your suggestion safer - I believe its debatable, and even if it is, the difference is pretty marginal - how often does a rider have to pull an emergency stop while signalling, and more importantly, of those cases, how often would it make a difference to the outcome? What is less safe is riding a bike that is configured differently from what you are used to, hence the convention. If you have ever had the joy of pulling an emergency stop on a bike wired "the wrong way" you will understand what I mean.

Where I live, convention is different to where you live, however, only a few riders think enough about to worry, and fewer have a need to deal with it. Those that do learn to either adapt to new bikes quickly or reconfigure their bikes to suit them.

  • skilled riders have been known to take both hands off the bars :) Taking a hand off the bars is a judgement call and there's one place on my commute that I rarely to never signal because the road surface is atrocious just where I would normally signal, so it's much safer not to signal.
    – Móż
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 21:34
  • @Ӎσ... Good point - I'd love to see one braking at the same time though :)
    – mattnz
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 23:32
  • no problem, anything with a back pedal brake or fixie.
    – Móż
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 23:43
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    It's not just emergency braking, fairly gentle stopping on a steep downhill requires some bracing against the bars to keep from sliding forwards. If you're slowing for a right (UK) turn, signalling is not easy, but a pretty good idea as you're pulling out across the traffic - and you've only got the back brake.
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 16:47

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