Electric Turn Signals on Bicycles

Question

SpecialX asked: Is there a statute that covers how someone is supposed to signal a turn? Do I have to use hand/arm signals or can I purchase an electronic bicycle signaling “kit”? Or do I have to use signals that are “DOT” approved?

Answer

Bicyclists must signal when preparing for a turn or stop, and sometimes when moving left or right in the roadway.

s. 316.155When Signal Required

(1) No person may turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a highway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety, and then only after giving an appropriate signal in the manner hereinafter provided, in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.

(2) A signal of intention to turn right or left must be given continuously during not less than the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning, except that such a signal by hand or arm need not be given continuously by a bicyclist if the hand is needed in the control or operation of the bicycle.

(3) No person may stop or suddenly decrease the speed of a vehicle without first giving an appropriate signal in the manner provided herein to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear, when there is opportunity to give such signal.

Turn and stop signals may be made by hand or signal lamps.

s. 316.156Signals by Hand and Arm or Signal Lamps

(1) Any stop or turn signal when required herein shall be given either by means of the hand and arm or by signal lamps ….

The following are the correct means of signaling by hand and arm.

s. 316.157Method of Giving Hand and Arm Signals

(1) All signals herein required to be given by hand and arm shall be given from the left side of the vehicle in the following manner and such signals shall indicate as follows:

(a) Left turn—Hand and arm extended horizontally.

(b) Right turn—Hand and arm extended upward, except that a bicyclist may extend the right hand and arm horizontally to the right side of the bicycle.

(c) Stop or decrease speed —Hand and arm extended downward.

Only motor vehicles are required to have signal and stop lamps.  Bicycles are not motor vehicles.

s. 316.222 – Stop Lamps and Turn Signals

(1) Every motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, and pole trailer shall be equipped with two or more stop lamps meeting the requirements of s. 316.234

(2) Every motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, and pole trailer shall be equipped with electric turn signal lamps meeting the requirements of s. 316.234(2).

Bicyclists (any vehicle) may use electric turn signals if they meet the following specifications:

s. 316.234Signal Lamps and Signal Devices

(2) Any vehicle may …. be equipped with electric turn signals which shall indicate an intention to turn by flashing lights showing to the front and rear of a vehicle …. on the side of the vehicle or combination toward which the turn is to be made. The lamps showing to the front shall be mounted on the same level and as widely spaced laterally as practicable and, when signaling, shall emit white or amber light. The lamps showing to the rear shall be mounted on the same level and as widely spaced laterally as practicable, and, when signaling, shall emit a red or amber light. …. Turn signal lamps on vehicles less than 80 inches wide shall be visible at a distance of not less than 300 feet to the front and rear in normal sunlight …. Turn signal lamps may, but need not be, incorporated in other lamps on the vehicle.

It is unlikely that bicyclists could use electric stop indicator lights since they must be actuated by the foot brake. However, it may be possible and is apparently legal to equip a bicycle having a Coaster type brake that is incorporated in the rear hub and activated by pressing the pedal backward (foot brake) with electric brake lights.

(1) Any vehicle may be equipped and, when required under this chapter, shall be equipped with a stop lamp or lamps on the rear of the vehicle which shall display a red or amber light, visible from a distance of not less than 300 feet to the rear in normal sunlight, and which shall be actuated upon application of the service (foot) brake, and which may but need not be incorporated with one or more other rear lamps.

Posted in Ask Geo, Bicycle Equipment Tagged with: ,
5 comments on “Electric Turn Signals on Bicycles
  1. SpecialX says:

    I have turn signals actuated by my brake handle… It has a regular cable brake and an electric brake function.
    I don’t think The “foot” brake part would apply to a bicycle.

  2. Geo says:

    The statute requires that a stop signal be activated by a service (foot) brake and specifies “any vehicle”. You can read into that what you wish regarding its application to bicycles.

    • SpecialX says:

      Here’s the thing… NO bicycle has a brake light by default…
      And that statute is for “any” vehicle that REQUIRES stop lamps, which bicycles do not require.

  3. Geo says:

    SpecialX,

    This sub-paragraph in the Bicycle Regulations might permit the hand activated stop lights that you mention:

    (7) …. A bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by this section.

  4. Geo says:

    SpecialX stated:

    “And that statute is for “any” vehicle that REQUIRES stop lamps, which bicycles do not require.”

    The statute is not just for vehicles that require the lights. It says “may” and for this question should be read as follows:

    “Any vehicle may be equipped …. with a stop lamp or lamps on the rear of the vehicle …. which shall be actuated upon application of the service (foot) brake ….

    The lights under this statute are optional for bicycles, but if so equipped “shall” be foot activated.

    The comment on the Bicycle Regulations additional lights still applies and probably allows such lights, no matter how they are activated. There are no qualifiers on “additional lights”.

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