I am living in the UK and in this situation (sorry for my bad drawing):

enter image description here

The bike (the dot in front) wants to do a u-turn and needs to signal to the car (the dot behind). If the bike does not signal, the car will not slow down and my hit the bike.

How can I signal a u-turn? I was thinking about putting my hand behind me but that may not be obvious for road users.

  • 1
    For reference, the Highway Code details 3 kinds of hand signals for cyclists: left, right and slowing down/stop. see gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/signals-to-other-road-users
    – Swifty
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 20:57
  • 6
    That Uturn - good chance you won't be 'living' in the UK long.
    – mattnz
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 22:58
  • 12
    No, you don't "need to" signal to the car. You just slow down and let the car overtake you, and then make your U turn. But if you really want to make a signal, my experience as a car driver says that if I cyclist turns his/her head round to look behind for long enough to make eye contact with a driver behind the bike, that "signal" usually means "I think I'm immortal, and I'm now going to do something completely stupid just to prove I'm right - try to kill me if you dare".
    – alephzero
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 2:40
  • 3
    Can you simply ride around the block instead ?
    – Criggie
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 5:22
  • 6
    Sorry, but how is this much different from turning right? You just turn... even more right. I'd signal for the right turn, and then - if not hindered by vehicles coming from the right and turning into "my" street - do the U-turn.
    – Erik
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 13:49

3 Answers 3


First, don't attempt a u-turn at a junction where you may have vehicles approaching from multiple directions and vehicle drivers will be expecting you to make a left or right turn, not a u-turn.

U turn away at a point where you can see both directions clearly - away from blind turns and rises. Wait until vehicle have passed you to turn, If you need to get vehicles past, stop and wave them by.

You can also more safely u-turn by turning right or left onto a minor side road (or driveway, carpark etc), turning around there, then making the opposite turn back onto the major road.

  • 1
    Agree, I wouldn't venture into the relative danger of that junction. Traffic will be going at least 30mph, more often than not. Good alternative suggestions
    – Swifty
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 20:47
  • 7
    ... in other words at a place where it doesn't matter whether you do a "only" a right turn (say into a driveway) or a U turn since both imply that you cross all other traffic and thus the signal that you will turn right does not have any relevant ambiguity.
    – cbeleites
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 6:37

The other answers have good notes about doing this more safely. But if the car is far enough behind you and you are sure there is no risk, just signal a right turn. Your path will be almost the same, and the reaction needed from the driver is the same (increased awareness, possibly need to slow down).

I myself would only do this if the distance was so large that the car doesn't really need to slow down, so the signal is given just to avoid giving them unnecessary surprises. Otherwise I would just wait for the car to pass before crossing the road.

  • the car will have to slow down at a point as well - simply because there is no road ahead after the T-junction. I would worry more about the "offending" traffic on both sides of the junction - if there is nothing, just indicate right - and drive along your path
    – eagle275
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 9:48
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    In an ideal world this would be safe, as no sensible driver will try and overtake you during the right-turn. However, I think it's more than possible for a driver to assume you are going to turn right, attempt to overtake, which would result in you being cut up as you completed the U-turn. You might be in the right, but you'd be "dead right". Bad drivers are unpredictable.
    – Kialandei
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 13:45
  • 1
    The more reason to not to cling to the kerb, but - especially at intersections - to keep to the middle of the lane @Kialandei
    – Erik
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 13:50
  • @Kialandei: no, it wouldn't be safe at the depicted crossing even in an ideal world: someone coming from the right who wants to turn left, i.e. into the opposite direction of where OP comes from could safely turn while OP does a normal right turn. But not with a U turn.
    – cbeleites
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 21:10
  • 1
    @cbeleitesunhappywithSX Depends on if there is someone simultaneously coming from the right. Presumably the bicyclist at the depicted position would see and hear them already.
    – jpa
    Commented May 17, 2020 at 14:48

I think the legal way is to get off your bike before reaching the cross street, (about where your arrow is,) cross walking, and get on your bike again.
The signal you need in that case is a hand up and down, on the side of the pavement (side walk) where you will stop. But this signal is gone out of fashion in many countries.

What you want to do might be acceptable when there is no traffic on both roads, but any car will be confused and you will be in the danger zone.

  • 5
    Calling this the legal way implies other ways could be illegal, but cycling in the UK is pretty liberal, there are few hard rules and U-turns are typically legal for road users unless prohibited by a sign. The rules do focus on safety though and this method certainly promotes caution by crossing on foot.
    – Swifty
    Commented May 13, 2020 at 21:08
  • 1
    Perhaps substitute "safest" for "legal"?
    – Joe
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 15:29
  • I am not from the UK but what I see when there and when reading about cycling in the UK is that many cyclists ignore the laws and rules, not that there are no laws and rules. I do not say (or even imply) that a U-turn is illegal, it is certainly not taught in cycling lessons and it is not what drivers would expect you to do, making it dangerous if done in the wrong spot.
    – Willeke
    Commented May 14, 2020 at 15:47
  • I don't think that "legal" is a very bad wording, though you could say "legitimate" if that makes you feel better. While something isn't illegal if the law doesn't forbid it (that's right!) there's still being "illegal" when it's endangering and against normal practice. The reason why so many cyclists die (and why car drivers hate them with a passion) is that a majority of cyclists believes that they're alone on the street, and need not follow any rules because rules don't apply to them (red traffic light, who cares!). Sudden, unexpected (and unnecessary) moves are dangerous to everyone.
    – Damon
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 11:18

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