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I use my bike mainly for my commute to the station, but there are quite a few roundabout with sharp right turns and I find it almost impossible to lift my right arm to indicate my direction, whenever I do I get super wobbly and have to grab the handlebar straight away. Any tips? (I am not an avid cyclist but I really enjoy it casually and road cycling is quite new to me, I didn’t learn how to ride a bike until k was 13 so I’m more of an adult learner )

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  • Can you change your route to avoid the right hand turns? Or at least the busier ones?
    – Criggie
    Feb 19, 2022 at 9:44
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    Are you in a location where indication with your arms is mandatory ?
    – Criggie
    Feb 19, 2022 at 9:45
  • Also, which side of the road do you ride on where you live? Signalling a right turn is more important in countries where we ride on the left, as we're crossing traffic
    – Chris H
    Feb 21, 2022 at 14:31

5 Answers 5

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Do not turn while showing the signal. It is likely too late anyway at this time. Show while still driving straight, and return the hand to the wheel before turning. It is much easier to maintain the straight direction than to turn with just one hand.

Make this signal approximately 100 feet before you turn, to alert others and so that you can get your hands back onto your bike as you turn. Hold the signal for about 3 seconds. (source). Otherwise not only steering but also braking is impacted (Wikipedia). The signals are for communicating your intentions to others in advance.

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  • Here in Austria the road law actually says that you have to indicate a change of direction until you’ve completed the maneuver (or aborted it). It’s probably nitpicking and you probably won’t get fined for signaling first and then focusing on steering and braking. But still interesting.
    – Michael
    Feb 21, 2022 at 9:02
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    @Michael That sounds like the people who made the rules don't ride bikes! Signalling while turning can be dangerous or impossible for cyclists. Feb 21, 2022 at 12:32
  • @WillVousden: I kind of agree, but at the same time: If you start signalling in a roundabout that you are about to exit but then you stop signalling, what are the other road users supposed to think? They kind of have to assume that you are aborting the maneuver. I’d at least keep the hand up until you are well into the maneuver. At the same time, of course if you need both hands on the handlebar to avoid an imminent crash or safely navigate the turn you should do so.
    – Michael
    Feb 21, 2022 at 13:06
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    It is much more important to give a signal in advance as others may need to plan they actions appropriately.
    – nightrider
    Feb 21, 2022 at 14:11
  • @WillVousden it's all about balance. There's one roundabout near me with odd lanes that mean I'm signalling right for 3/4 of the way round (UK so we ride on the left), taking the lane. The exception is if I get a bad feeling about an approaching car and need to cover the brake.
    – Chris H
    Feb 21, 2022 at 14:34
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I think it boils down to practice, practice, practice.

Just to rule out a mechanical problem I’d make sure that the bike itself is in good condition: Wheels properly seated in the frame and fork, no loose wheel hub or headset bearings, handlebar properly aligned (symmetric and at a 90° angle to the front wheel).

Also make sure the bike is the right size and adjusted properly. A super-aggressive seating position with very low handlebar could make it difficult to ride one-handed, especially if you are inexperienced and lack the core and upper body strength.

But in the end it’s really a matter of practice. I suggest practicing on a quiet street or even better on grass (won’t hurt as much if you fall). Just practice riding one handed, taking turns one handed and then the full thing: Looking over your shoulder, indicating, braking and turning. The hard part is that you have to do pretty much all of that simultaneously. Bonus points if you remember to change gears ;)

Of course be extra careful if the ground is slippery (wet manhole covers, wet road surface markings, debris …) or if it’s windy.

If you’d really want to take training to the extreme you could do some core and upper body strength exercises. Things like push-ups and planks which should make it a lot easier to keep your body stable with only one arm.

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    Over here in Luxembourg signalling is mandatory but with the caveat 'only if you can safely do so', such as in heavy wind, on a descent where you need both hands on the bar to use the brakes or when you push hard on the pedals in an uphill.
    – Carel
    Feb 19, 2022 at 15:43
  • Here in Austria when you want to change direction or change lanes you have to: a) check that it’s safe to do so and b) signal your intention so that other road users are prepared for your maneuver. If you vehicle doesn’t have equipment for signaling you have to signal with your hands. As far as I’m aware there are no exceptions for cyclists.
    – Michael
    Feb 19, 2022 at 16:00
  • I learnt as an adult, and it took a lot of practice, especially signalling right though I'm only slightly right handed. Rather than grass, which is likely to be uneven and slippery, I practiced a lot on a bike path with long straights, first hovering my right hand near the bars, then riding with it down by my side or out in front at shoulder height.
    – Chris H
    Feb 21, 2022 at 15:49
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    @Michael there are times when you can't possibly signal (at the best time). For example if you need both hands for braking to a stop on a steep descent (even if only using the front brake, going down something steep enough no amount of strength replaces using both hands to do you sliding forwards on the saddle). Or if you were about to signal but a hazard means you have brake sooner and harder, needing the signalling hand. Even a really bad road surface makes it stupid to ride one handed. So if the exception isn't explicit, it must be implicit, or the law isn't fit for purpose.
    – Chris H
    Feb 21, 2022 at 15:54
  • @ChrisH: Obviously we consider signaling to be safety critical. I’m not aware of any exemptions for cyclists. I just checked the Austrian STVO again and I can’t even find a general exemption which would allow you to break laws if it’s necessary to avoid imminent danger to you or others.
    – Michael
    Feb 21, 2022 at 16:25
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On road bikes with drop handlebars, one technique I learned about was to switch to the tops of the bars (instead of the brake hoods), and also to use the non-signaling hand to grasp closer to the center of the bars. This technique may also be adaptable to flat handlebars, but I haven’t been on a flat handlebar bicycle in decades. It isn’t clear what type of bike the OP is on.

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  • I actually prefer signalling from the hoods over any other position on drop bars - steering with one hand too near the axis seems imprecise. But the difference between our views indicates that experimenting with hand positions is good so +1
    – Chris H
    Feb 24, 2022 at 9:41
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One could consider fitting an electrical signalling/indicator system, but realistically they're a poor solution because

  1. Drivers aren't looking for blinkers on a bike
  2. Even if the flashing indicator was noticed, it might just be taken as a flashing rear light rather than an indicator of direction
  3. Most bikes are narrow so the separation between indicator flashers is small.
  4. Whether you have one on the front as well is a sub-issue.
  5. Some countries actively legislate against "distracting lights"
  6. Not aero, and add weight (had to put that in)

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This one is even sillier because drivers do not have to interpret arrows on other cars, so they simply won't.

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And don't even get me started on the ones touting "app control" because who's going to use their cellphone to start a signal ? Many of these products are made because someone will buy them - whether they're useful or not is another question entirely.

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    This is a deliberate "poor" answer to document that these things exist and why they shouldn't be used IMO.
    – Criggie
    Feb 21, 2022 at 8:41
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    I’d also distrust their reliability. I’m already afraid of my rear lights failing without me noticing in time.
    – Michael
    Feb 21, 2022 at 9:04
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    @Michael In the depths of winter when I'm commuting down pitch black roads, I run four rear lights. Not overkill because one night I managed to find three of them off/not working when I got home.
    – Criggie
    Feb 21, 2022 at 9:12
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    Yes, that’s also the reason why I have two independent battery rear lights plus a reflector. The good thing is that I can relatively easily check that they are working by looking behind me. My Trek Flare RT also has Bluetooth and my Garmin Edge 820 tells me if it loses connection.
    – Michael
    Feb 21, 2022 at 10:12
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    I don't think such a product is available, but if you always run with panniers (i.e. you've got something wide at the back anyway), indicators similar to those on a motorbike could be quite interesting. That's also true if riding a trike because of a condition that means the necessary hand is needed on the bars. But if I felt the need for illuminated signalling, I'd use amber LEDs (probably steady rather than flashing) on a wristband or glove, not as indicators in their own right but to make arm signals more visible than with hi-vis and reflective stuff. That of course wouldn't help the OP
    – Chris H
    Feb 24, 2022 at 9:40
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Chances are that you suffer from some chronic muscle imbalance (statistically most of us do) and thus exert different forces on the bike when alternating sides.

I suggest you try lifting your hand off the handlebars and at the same time try to move the opposite leg to the lowest point possible while pedalling (cranks should be vertical), so that you can press down and "hold" the bike by cancelling out the forces you exert on the bars and the pedals. Try to do this for both sides and sort of play with the pressure on the pedals and the handlebars.

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