According to the California Vehicular Code (CVC) §22108, cyclists are required to properly signal to other motorists when they intend to turn. Whether you’re going right or left, you must clearly signal at least 100 feet before making the turn.
CVC §22108 reads: “Any signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given continuously during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.”
For those who don’t know, the standard signal for making a left turn is simply holding your left arm straight out to the side. To make it crystal clear you’re turning left, traffic safety officials recommend pointing with your index finger.
Interestingly, the official hand signal for a right turn is not holding your arm straight to the right. Instead, cyclists are supposed to hold their right arm up making a 90-degree angle. Your palm should face forward and your index finger should be pointing towards the sky.
Most people, however, don’t know about this 90-degree hand move and simply put their right arm out to the right when making a right turn. While technically not correct, this is far better than no signal at all.
In addition to hand signaling, cyclists are always encouraged to make eye contact with motorists when possible.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) put together this handy PDF reviewing all the major hand signals cyclists should know about. If you have any questions, be sure to review this sheet before going out on your next ride.
Need more details on California’s rules regarding proper cyclist signaling? First off, check out this page on CA DMV’s official website. If you want even more info, you could read the official text of CVC Chapter 6 § 22108 by clicking on this link.