Ride Boldly!

Bikes, bicycling, and road safety.

Sharing the Road: Bicycles & Autos & Turn Signals, Oh My.


It seems like one of today’s big trend stories is about how motorists can better share the roads with bicyclists. Everyone from Bicycling magazine to local papers are getting in the act.

Never one to let a trend completely pass me by unless it’s a really heinous one (I’ve never owned a pair of Crocs, for instance), I think this is all very well and nice. They are all chock full of helpful advice for motorists and cyclists, such as the 3-foot passing rule, wearing helmets, avoidance of distracted driving, etc. etc.

But you know what? I have not seen a single article mention something I think is fundamental: Cars need to signal their turns. Use your turn signals, motorists.

A number of the articles mention the danger of the right-hook – where a cyclist on the curb lane ends up to the right of a vehicle who is right turning, with somewhat predictably painful results. There are several good ways to avoid the right hook, but one of the top ways – beyond cyclists wising up to the idea that hugging the curb isn’t always strictly necessary under law, and is often injurious – is for vehicles who are right turning to always signal their intent.

Because this doesn’t always happen, I tend to be mildly annoying in lanes that can work as either right-turn or through lanes, pulling to the left into the right-hand wheel well where vehicles might go, even if there’s not a car at the intersection when I arrive there. A vehicle arriving might pull alongside, and depending on positioning, it an be difficult to see a signal if it’s even used.

Turn signals are really bueno for the benefit of other cars and pedestrians on the road, too.

So, in summary: Sure, read all those happy articles about road sharing. Then try using your turn signals. Cyclists, pedestrians and other motorists will praise you for it.

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Author: julie

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005. She is a past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association. She has 2 children and 4 bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations.

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