See.Safe.Smart: Hand signals keep us safe

During the past several months, we’ve provided many safety tips for walking and bicycling in these monthly columns as part of our SEE.SAFE.SMART. safety campaign. As we’ve stressed before, the key to being safe when riding a bicycle is to be predictable and indicate your intentions.

That’s why this month’s message is “Hand signals keep us safe.” As you approach an intersection while riding a bicycle, you must always do two things: 1) Position yourself in the driving lane to help indicate how you plan to travel through the intersection, and 2) Signal your intent with a hand signal. Bicyclists who ride with confidence, follow the rules of the road, act predictably and signal their intentions are much more appreciated by motorists and will be given the courtesy of sharing the road. Follow these guidelines:

If you plan to turn right at an intersection: The correct position is in the right third of the driving lane as indicated by state law; ride as far to the right as is practicable. Use your right arm to point out to the right to signal your turn.

If you plan to proceed straight through the intersection: The correct position is to be in the center of the driving lane. This indicates to drivers that you intended to proceed on a straight path through the intersection.

If you plan to turn left at the intersection: The correct lane position is to move to the left third of the driving lane. Use your left arm to point to the left to signal your turn to drivers.

To signal to drivers behind you that you intend to stop: Stick your right arm out straight and turn your elbow at a 90-degree angle so your fingers are pointing downward.

Give it a little practice! If you aren’t confident in your bicycle handling skills, find a quiet street or parking lot to practice looking over your shoulder to shift positions in the lane, practice signaling turns, and starting and stopping at stop signs. A little practice and confidence goes a long way in bicycle safety.

Always be vigilant about looking out for motor vehicles and make sure they see you if you have the right of way. Don’t just assume they see you. Make eye contact with the driver; otherwise be prepared to yield the right of way.

Remember, safety never ends. As we wrap up our 11th and final month of the SEE.SAFE.SMART. campaign, please try to keep in mind all of the safety tips we have shared. No matter if you choose to walk, bike or drive, The Heart of New Ulm Project and the Safe Routes to School Action Team want everyone in our community to have a safe and enjoyable experience while on the road.

Special thanks to all of the schools in New Ulm for their support and to all of the other partners that helped made this campaign possible. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning some helpful tips and appreciate your continued committed to SEEing people biking and walking, acting SAFE, and being SMART. Safe travels everyone!