Bicycle Courtesy Basics for New Cyclists in Seattle

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Drivers and cyclists have a responsibility to share the road with each other. If you are new to cycling in Seattle, here are some basic bicycling courtesy tips from our bicycle accident lawyers to help keep you safe on the road.

Use Hand Signals

Using hand signals is not only courteous, but a legal requirement as well. If you are not familiar with hand signals, the time to learn them is now.

  • Right-hand turn: When signaling to make a right turn, extend your left arm with your elbow bent upwards, forming an L shape.
  • Left-hand turn: When making a left hand turn, simply extend your left arm out straight, parallel to the ground.
  • Slowing down or stopping. When slowing down or coming to a stop, extend your left arm, and bend your elbow so that your left hand is pointing downward and your elbow forms a right angle.


All bike hand signals are performed with the left arm.

Know Overtaking Rules

You should know what your rights and obligations are in terms of overtaking, or being overtaken, by another vehicle. If you want to pass a vehicle, overtaking rules, per RCW § 46.61.110, know that any vehicle wishing to overtake another must pass the vehicle on the left, and cannot move to the right again until the roadway is safely clear of traffic. If the driver of a motor vehicle wants to overtake you, the same is true; the vehicle must pass you on the left and cannot move to the right again until there is a safe distance between you and the vehicle.

Yield When Required

Make sure to remember that just because you are on a bicycle does not mean that you automatically have the right-of-way. In fact, cyclists are required to follow the same traffic laws as the drivers of motor vehicles. This means that you must yield when you do not have the right of way or if traffic signals do not indicate that you should proceed.

More Riders Coming to Seattle

Exercising courtesy while riding is extremely important. The city of Seattle is hoping to encourage more riders through the bike share program. The mayor hopes to expand the bike share program by the end of 2016. If you are a cyclist in Seattle and have been involved in an accident or just have questions about how to improve your safety while riding, read our guide to biking in Seattle and contact Max Meyers Law PLLC today at 425-399-7000 for a free consultation.

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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.