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There’s a new right turn hand signal for Michigan bicyclists

March 27, 2014 by Steven M. Gursten

It may be a bit chilly for springtime, but some bicyclists are starting to venture out. This spring, they will have some new challenges – such as Michigan’s pothole-strewn roads, which makes riding safely and avoiding spills even more of a challenge.

So it’s probably a good thing the Michigan Legislature had bicycling safely on its mind during this past winter. We now have a new  hand signal that bicycle riders can use.

In late January, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation giving bicyclists another right hand turn signal option: Extending their right arm horizontally.

In several other states (and even in Michigan before this law) both hand signals were acceptable. But until now, Michigan bicyclists could legally signal a right turn only with an L position, by raising the left arm with the elbow bent 90 degrees, hand pointing skyward.

Besides being counter-intuitive, it is also easy to forget for weekend warriors who hit the roads on their bikes. And sadly, as an attorney, I’ve been involved in several bicycle-car accidents where even if the bicyclist was signaling properly, the driver in the car behind didn’t know what the L position hand signal meant.

Rep. Anthony Forlini (R-Harrison Township) sponsored the bill,  stating the obvious: Most drivers are unfamiliar with bicyclists’ traditional right-hand turn gesture.

We want to hear from you.

What do you think, are two right hand bike signals confusing – or is this a smarter way to signal?

The most important thing is the result, of course.  If the new right hand signal for bicycle riders reduces the number of bikers hit by cars, then it’s well worth it.

Related information:

Bike hand signals, learn the basics

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