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So I can't remember the last time I even saw anyone use those biking hand signals. I'm not sure I even know them to be honest.  Do they still cover these things anywhere? At elementary school age I recall a going to a bike class given by the police dpt where they covered this and made you ride a course through some cones.  I think I got a sticker on my bike or a card for my wallet or something. Does this still happen?  Or has this sort of signaling gone the way of semaphore flags?

For responders with nothing but snark: If your life is so sad you derive pleasure from being insulting I feel sorry for you as do most other people. Rather than being a detractor find something interesting and post it, you'll feel better about yourself and other people will like you more. Thanks, Haddon.

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Every year in my elementary school, we would have an assembly where we were joined by Officer Phil Delphia (I am so not kidding!) from the Police Dept. who would give us a similar bicycle safety lecture and demo. Granted this was 40 years ago. I learned the all-left-handed version of the signals, which I still use. I do feel a little ambivalent about the right-turn signal because it is kind of confusing, but I'm not sure that anyone would be looking at my right arm, although I suppose missing a right-turn signal is generally not as bad as missing a left-turn one. Also, if you signal with your right arm you have to brake with your front brake only, which I don't like.

I recall from a couple of years ago reading that Illinois had changed the law and allowed right turn signals with the right arm extended. Maybe I dreamed it. 

John Durham said:

I signal my turns, and my stops often as well. I see many other riders signaling as well; riders that weren't signaling before are picking up the 'lingo' from observing other riders signaling. It's a slow process, but I have seen improvement. 

The signals aren't complicated. Point in the direction you're turning. Hand down with palm open indicating stop. Point to the ground with finger extended to indicate obstacles to riders behind you (large piles of glass, potholes, etc.). That's it. Not complicated. 

I'd like to see the "Left arm upturned as a right turn indicator" go away though. That was developed for automobiles and most often it just looks like someone waving, especially when done in a half assed manner. Just point in the direction you're turning. 

Chicago Municipal code allows either: 

"Right turn, left hand and arm extended upward, or right hand and arm extended horizontally;"

(source)

I nearly always use the right arm because that's more obvious to others, who may not know the signals.

Sydney Barton said:

I recall from a couple of years ago reading that Illinois had changed the law and allowed right turn signals with the right arm extended. Maybe I dreamed it. 

John Durham said:

I signal my turns, and my stops often as well. I see many other riders signaling as well; riders that weren't signaling before are picking up the 'lingo' from observing other riders signaling. It's a slow process, but I have seen improvement. 

The signals aren't complicated. Point in the direction you're turning. Hand down with palm open indicating stop. Point to the ground with finger extended to indicate obstacles to riders behind you (large piles of glass, potholes, etc.). That's it. Not complicated. 

I'd like to see the "Left arm upturned as a right turn indicator" go away though. That was developed for automobiles and most often it just looks like someone waving, especially when done in a half assed manner. Just point in the direction you're turning. 

Well, in the "Every Which Way ..." movies, Clint Eastwood would say "Right turn, Clyde", and his Orangutan name Clyde would stick out his right hand.  Especially useful when their was a motorcycle gang beside the right window.
 
Lisa Curcio 4.1mi said:

I use them, except, like John, I indicate a right turn by putting my right arm out instead of the left arm up signal.  That signal was for cars without turn signals--yes, Virginia, cars did not always have turn signals--since one could obviously not extend one's right arm out the passenger side window.  I don't know when they stopped teaching hand signals in drivers' education classes, but young people seem not to understand the left arm up signal.

I was not allowed to have an Orangutan :-(

I should add that for years, my little modification to the left-handed right-turn signal was to point over my head to the right (using left hand) to signify that I was turning right, since it's not a very intuitive signal. But then I was biking around Fort Collins, CO, this spring where I saw tons of delightful young people using the regular old left-handed signal with seeming fluency. Which encouraged me to just start using the regular version and maybe people will catch on.

Good piece on braking here: http://janheine.wordpress.com/2013/08/23/how-to-brake-on-a-bicycle/.

I signal turns most of the time. I'll occasionally signal slowing/stopping in areas where I know a number of bicyclists disregard traffic controls (e.g. Kinzie bike lane).

In Beverly and other south side neighborhoods and SW suburbs where there are actually hills, and descents are sometimes steep and bumpy, hand signals aren't always possible. The good thing is that there's usually a stop sign at the bottom, offering an opportunity to give following drivers a clue.
 
Jeff Schneider said:

I'd agree that braking with the front brake only is not a problem most of the time, especially in Chicago, Amsterdam or other flat places.  But it does require a bit more care than using only the rear.  If you are on a steep and bumpy descent, it's not always as easy to hold the bars firmly and modulate braking precisely using only the front brake.  And rear braking is also probably a little safer while riding over wet leaves, etc.
 

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