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How to Turn Right on a Road Bike

In the UK we had this wonderful scheme called Cycling Proficiency, now it’s called Bikeability and it’s not just for kids these days.

Being safe on the road is imperative, and since there seems to be some kind of vendetta between road bike cyclists and other road users it’s down to those of us on leg powered two wheels to do something about it.  Put it this way, I haven’t yet heard of a motorist say that they have to reach out to support the cause of the cyclist.

Bikeability seeks to make cyclists safe, and although in this post I won’t be discussing what they preach, I will be picking up on the stuff I learnt back in the 70’s, plus a few years of experience.

Claim your space

One thing that many cyclists, including Boris Johnson current Lord Mayor of London, says is to make sure that you claim your space on the road.  You are allowed, for example, to leave 2 meters when over taking parked cars because someone might open a door on to you.  Equally when approaching junctions if you can then weave through to the front of the traffic so that you can accelerate off quickest and be seen by the other traffic.

When you approach a junction, whether you are turning left or right, once it is safe to and you aren’t having to weave, get yourself into the centre of your road position.  So if you are turning left move out 2 meters from the curb so that it forces the other road users to sit behind you.  It’ll annoy them, but it stops them from cutting you up.  If you are turning right then you should look to move over in good time.

Get into the right gear

I slow down with about 300 yards to go so that I am in full control of my bike and I can respond to any road changes.  I look over my shoulder to make sure that I know what the traffic is doing although I won’t be moving out yet, then I change down into a suitable low gear ready for pulling away again.  You have the ability to accelerate faster than a car, but only if you are in the right gear. 

First signal

Look over your right shoulder again, and make sure that there is no traffic that is going to clip your arm when you stick it out! If you are in towns then you will be moving into moving traffic. If the traffic isn’t giving you a wide enough birth to indicate clearly then slow down further, check the gutter is clear, move over a little more (this is why you cycle at 2 meters because it gives you the room to move over, and the cars are still going around you to the outside) and signal clearly.  Leave your arm out for a couple of seconds or more.  Look forward, and no waving your hand to the bottom right.  It needs to be clearly horizontal.  Look forwards to maintain your balance.  Put your hands back on the bars.

If you are in the countryside, then wait until you are able to make the manoeuvre, then when you know that you will be able to, that’s the time to go through the signalling.  If you can’t then you should stop and wait.  Often cars are travelling quickly and won’t see you.  

Look again

Does it look clear now to pull out?  Move yourself quickly and safely to the right hand side of the road.  Leave about a meter from the centre line of the road.  This means you are claiming the road position.  Only once has this upset a car driver who obviously had never read the highway code!

Stop at the junction unless you are on a quiet road, no trackstands, just put your foot down.  Look around to see what other cars are doing, particularly make eye contact. 

Signal again to the right, then move off.

Road position

Some cyclists I see swerve straight right.  Don’t.  Ride straight across to the other side of the road, and then turn.  Hands back on the bars and accelerate.