EDITORIAL: Nostalgia for hand signals

Using hand signals while cycling seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird — and the bike helmet —  around Squamish.

Last week was Bike to Work Week and it was awesome to see so many Squamish riders out and about on two wheels. Cycling is good for us, the environment, and the town. And it is way more fun than walking or driving.

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But stand near any intersection in town, particularly downtown, and you are bound to see some crazy stuff — riding on sidewalks,  riding on the wrong side of the road, cutting off cars, riding across crosswalks, riding with multiple dogs attached, riding while on the phone — riding while on the phone and smoking a joint — dual riders on one seat and riders breezing through stop signs.

And nary a hand signal to be seen.

Oh, Squamish.

Now, obviously some of this is dangerous, and cyclists or pedestrians could get hurt or killed.

Over a five year average, 2,000 cyclists were involved in crashes in B.C., of those 1,600 riders were hurt. In nine of those crashes, the cyclist died, according to ICBC.

Most crashes between cars and bikes occur at intersections.

Clearly compared to the two leading causes of death in B.C. — cancer and heart disease — or the opioid crisis, cycling isn’t that deadly.

But these Squamish biking behaviours mentioned make it harder to get around town and are, well, rude.

We are a tourist town now and it is none too welcoming to be taking a lick of your ice-cream while manoeuvring around dogs, kids and the like and then almost get side-swiped by a bicycle coming down the sidewalk.

It also looks a little nutty when cyclists are riding down the wrong side of the road in the middle of the street.

The fact is, by law, cyclists have the same duties and rights as drivers.

Should the entire district have bike lanes of some sort to help us all ride safe? Absofreakinlutely! And the council and District staff seem to be working on it.

But in the meantime, let’s try and make things pleasant for all users of our streets.

Cyclists, give drivers at least some inkling of what to expect by using hand signals. Forget those hand signals because the last time you used them you still had training wheels on? 

We’ve got you covered.

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Source: Shutterstock

To signal a left turn: extend left arm horizontally and point left.

To signal a right turn: point right or stick out your left arm at a 90-degree angle, creating an upward L-shape with palm facing forward.

To signal a stop,  extend either arm bent downward at the elbow, palm facing back. 

Oh, and wearing a helmet is the law in B.C. and you could be fined for not wearing one — just saying.

Happy pedaling.

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