Wednesday, September 30

What's this Cyclist Doing?

Art shamelessly lifted from CommuteOrlando
Commute Orlando, as most readers of this blog know, is a commute-oriented Orlando blog. But it's also much more, including many other things you'll see if you click on the "home" button, here. I highly recommend it, but their "Street Smarts" artwork, shown at right, DOES raise a question. What, exactly, is that cyclist trying to communicate? He (or she) MIGHT be signaling a stop. However, at least as likely, the cyclist is pointing out debris to a following cyclist, or just swinging an arm while making a head check. It definitely doesn't look like a "don't pass" signal with that finger pointing towards the dead polecat. Whatever it is, it DOES look confident.

At bicycle school last weekend, I got instructed to signal a stop by means of a bent elbow with the forearm pointing down. That clearly sends a message to any following motorists that the cyclist trying to signal something (even if they don't actually understand it's a stop signal) and not just resting his hand from the bar, or pointing out an interesting bit of roadkill.

Makes sense to me, though it also explains all the blathering I've done recently about awkward stop signals. I imagine opinions on this might vary...

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: If you think I'm kidding, go to Wikipedia, here, and see if YOU can figure out about stop signals! Among other things, the description for cyclist stop signals in the US & Canada conflict with the picture, supposedly of same (what I learned matches the description). If you REALLY want to be amused, try to carefully follow the Wikipedia directions for a UK stop signal. Just make sure no traffic is around. I'd hate to hear of any of you getting hurt. Now, the unasked question (until now), is: just that I'm able to make this post AND cite references suggests something about the current state of bike education knowledge. What do you think that might be?


Pesty said...

I'll take "signaling a lane change" for 100. At least that's how I learned to signal a lane change, however I've never seen it posted in any official DOT literature.

Option 2 is that he's signalling that he's trying move into the middle of a pace line, but I'd say that is much less likely with the panniers.

Steve A said...

Lane change - that OUGHT to be an arm stuck out straight in the intended direction, not a lazy arm as pictured. Pesty's theory does carry some weight when one considers the purposeful finger. That's clearly meant to mean SOMETHING.

I think the pace line theory is a long shot for the reason stated, unless it turned out that the cyclist was carrying energy bars for the entire peloton in which case the signal would mean "snag them from the left bag." ;-)

Chandra said...

Is it lack of uniformity in rules? That's about my best guess, given the hour of the day LOL

Peace :)

Rantwick said...

I've done that exact thing, indicating the spot I wish to occupy in front of one car and behind another. It's my hopeful "will you let me in there?" gesture, complete with the same look over the shoulder.

ChipSeal said...

Y'all are way off on this one! That cyclist is clearly indicating to the following motorist (who is leaning on his horn, no doubt!) that the driver ought to consider passing the cyclist in that lane over there.

Steve A said...

Looks more like "darn well better get your behind over there and no more fooling around" to me!

Keri said...

Rantwick is correct. It's communication. I use it a lot as well. It has a slighly different message than sticking the arm straight out for a left turn when all I want to do is move laterally — say from the bike lane into the lane (which I have to do a lot when riding in them).

I like Chipseal's answer. I think I've done that too!

Artist note: I really wanted the head check and some dynamic action. I couldn't accomplish that with anatomical accuracy depicting a straight-arm left turn signal. So far, the only people puzzled by the nuanced communication depicted are engineers. The publisher and the author love it because it depicts the cooperative, integrated relationship that vehicular cycling is (rather than the rigidity we are so often accused of).

The Califorina version uses my cover as well.

Steve A said...

I resemble that remark. Nuanced communication is fine, and it IS a cool picture, there's no denying that, but you could be in trouble if an engineer were ever behind you. I like my motorists to think as little as possible to know what they should do. For the engineers, the head check alone would suffice, and maybe just THINKING about making head check.

All this is, however, getting off the point - signals, of ANY kind are variations of negotiation. I found it interesting the unexpected variants of what one might expect to be cut & dried. Anybody out there try that Wikipedia UK signal yet? Using your left arm to point right seemed really awkward to me.

Lyle said...

I figured the artist just liked it because it is visually balanced in a way that an outstretched left arm would not be.

But as practical advice, I have to think about whether a different signal for "I'm going just this far and no farther" is appropriate. I would ordinarily agree with SteveA and oppose ambiguity but I will reconsider.

The comment on wikipedia about stop signals in the UK is in error. They drive on the wrong side of the road over there, so the stop signal must be made with the right arm.

Steve A said...

Still, Lyle must admit the concept of the Wikipedia UK stop signal is extremely amusing when attempted! I could not keep a straight line, I was laughing so hard. I wasn't even waving my left hand very much!

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