Hand signalling tips for safer cycling with kids

15 November 2023 - Learning to Ride

When you’re cycling on the roads with your children, it’s important to let other people know what you are doing and where you plan to go by using hand signals. Teaching your children what the hand signals mean and when to use them will help to keep them safe whilst out riding.

The experts at Bikeability put together this step-by-step guide on hand signals:

When cycling on the roads, there are a few steps you should carry out when signalling to make sure you can make your move safely.

Look –this is the most important step! Make sure you look before you signal. You need to know who you are signalling to and when the best time to signal is.

Signal – do it in enough time, make it very clear and ensure you carry it out for long enough that you can be confident other road users will have seen. Remember, only signal if you can control your bike when doing so.

Check – have people seen your signal or responded? If you are not sure you should signal again. Responding can be making eye contact, slowing down or even waving to indicate they have seen. If you still aren’t sure they have seen or do not feel safe, it is better not to make the move you have planned.

Move – once you are happy that other road users have seen your signal, make your move! You should always carry out a last look to ensure it is safe to proceed.

When should you use hand signals?

Knowing when you should use hand signals is almost as important - you need to be very clear about what you are doing when cycling, especially on the road.

When you’re turning – this is the most obvious! If you are planning to turn left or right, you need to make this very clear to other road users around you. If a car driver behind you spots that you are planning to turn, they will know what to expect and can react safely.

When you’re changing position – not quite as obvious, but if you are planning to change your position in the road, for example, if you are approaching a junction or there are parked cars you need to move away from, it is a good idea to let others know what you are going to do by signalling your change of position.

Planning to stop - there are other times when you might want to signal, such as if you are planning to stop. Make sure to signal with plenty of time and maintain the signal for a duration so that others can see it and understand your intentions clearly.

When you shouldn’t use hand signals

Although hand signals are very useful, they aren’t always the right thing to do.

When you need both your hands on the handlebars – if you need both hands to control your bike, you should not move them to signal. If you are turning you will need both hands, and everyone will be able to see what you are doing.

When it is too soon – if you signal too far in advance of your turn, you might confuse other road users. The safest approach is to indicate your intentions close to the time you intend to do them.

When there’s no one there to see – before you signal you must check for other road users so you know who you are communicating with. If there isn’t anyone around, then you can carry on without signalling!

Remember, signalling is a request to other road users that some might ignore. You must look before you signal and make sure other road users have responded before you make your move.

Cycling hand signals

Below are the cycling hand signals to learn and share with your children.


(These hand signals are not endorsed by Bikeability but are internationally recognised.)

Now that you've learned the correct hand-signalling rules – have fun cycling!

Cycle training with Bikeability

You can find more information about cycle training with Bikeability on their website: www.bikeability.org.uk

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