If you are planning on doing some group rides, are you ready?

Most riders know that they should learn how to ride in a paceline before joining a group ride, but is that all? Nope. There is at least one other thing you should know – hand signals.

In most group rides, you will be communicating using hand signals. So it pays to know the most common hand signals so you know what to do when you see them! (And of course, know how to use the signals yourself!)

Here are five common hand signals:

[– left hand/arm out picture –]

1. The Left Turn

To signal a left turn, stick your left arm out straight out to your left side.


[– right hand/arm out picture –]

2. The Right Turn

To signal a right turn, stick your right arm straight out to the right.

You can also use your left arm to signal a right turn. In that case, you put your left arm out and bend your elbow 90 degrees so your hand it pointing upwards.

That is the standard hand signal if you are driving a car because you can’t signal out the window with your right arm. But when riding a bicycle, you can signal with either hand, so it usually makes more sense to fellow road users if you signal using your right arm.

(And what I mean by that is that many road users today won’t understand that a bent left arm means a right turn!)


[– right arm pointing down picture –]

3. Pointing Out a Pot Hole or Similar Hazard

When riding in a group, the riders up front will have a good view of the road surface. It is up to these riders to pick a good line and point out any road hazards. This signal applies for pot holes, sewer grates, road kill, sand, broken glass, etc.

Commonly, these hazards are pot holes. To signal a pot hole, you point one of your arms straight down with an extended index finger.

If the hazard is on your right side, point with the right hand index finger. If the hazard is on your left size, point with your left hand index finger.


[– left hand facing backwards picture –]

4. Slowing Down and Stopping

Bicycles don’t have brake lights, so you have to use a hand signal for this.

Put your left arm out with your palm facing down and backwards. I recommend bending your elbow at 90 degrees. (Otherwise this signal could be confused with pointing out a pot hole.)


[– right hand waving behind back picture –]

5. Move Over!

If your group is coming up on a parked car in the way, passing an oncoming runner, or overtaking a slower rider, you will use the “move over” signal.

Typically this means taking your right hand and waving it behind your back. The motion goes from right to left, signaling everyone to move left.

You may also use your left hand motioning to the right, but that is rare since that road lane probably contains oncoming traffic.

Now you can join in group rides without getting confused about hand signals. Have fun.

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1 Comment
  1. Pointing to a hole is a good idea although from racing experience also shouting ‘HOLE’ gets everyone’s attention.

    I was also taught an additional sign by a group of swiss cyclists on a training camp another of years ago- for ‘sleeping policemen’/ road humps point downwards and follow along a line side to side.

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