Useful hand signalling language of cyclists
If you have enjoyed group cycling you may well have come across a range of communication signals that are used to offer guidance and warnings when voice messages just won’t do. These signals are used to inform other road users, as well as cyclists in the group, what your next action might be, whether stopping, slowing down or turning.
As well as the better-known right and left hand signals for turning right and left, there are other signals that are usually given to riders behind and might warn that the rest of the group is slowing or stopping. Other signals reveal where there is loose gravel on the road or a pot-hole.
You can see some of the communication signals used most commonly at British Cycling and 8 hand signals for group cycling however different clubs and groups may well use their own collection of hand signals.
Indeed, during this year’s trip to Mallorca we discovered that the signalling varies depending on where you ride in the world.
The Vino Velo Team included six riders; Nick, Andy and me from Scotland, Paul from England, Octavio from Arizona and our Swiss friend Felix, who lives both in Scotland and New Zealand.
I was really interested to see how Octavio signals to other cyclists. He used far more signals than I ever do but they seemed really useful.
His signalling sometimes confused us, too, until we worked out a set of Mallorca Holiday signals and messages that we could all use.
Cycle communication confusion
Here is a good example of how we ended up a little confused. One morning we had cycled about three miles from Alaro when Octavio, who had confessed to feeling quite weary that morning, shouted out to the group what sounded like: “Going back.” We all came to an immediate stop and turned back to ask if he was okay.
Octavio seemed a little bewildered and he said he was happy to carry on. Then we established that what he had actually shouted was: “Car back.” This is what they say in Arizona when there is a car at the rear of the group of riders.
When I am out with my Scottish cycling friends we would normally shout: “Tail” for a car at the rear and “Nose” for a car up ahead. This is most used when cycling a narrow road and when a car might be held up by our group of riders.
Octavio decided that he preferred the “tail” and “nose” to his “car back” and “car front” because they are far shorter and easier to shout out. By the end of the holiday he had forgotten all about his old Arizonian ways and was using our Scottish shout-outs to perfection!
On other occasions, Octavio put his hand behind his back in a fist. I wasn’t sure what this meant, which was a shame because it meant he was about to stop! I prefer this signal to the one I usually use, which is a straight arm and palm facing outwards.
Cycle signalling the American way
Here is a series of photos to show how Octavio signals to fellow cyclists. Tell me what you like/prefer to the ones you use.
(It’s important to remember that Americans cycle on the right hand side of the road, compared to our left-handed cycling and driving.)
And this is what Octavio looks like from the front!