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Bicycles aren’t really geeky – unless they’re electric, autonomous, GPS-enabled and/or use a hydrogen fuel cell, of course – but there’s something so steampunky about those gears and chains that I think it’s reasonable for me to mention an intriguing change coming to state law.

A bill titled “An act relative to regulating bicycles” was signed into law this week by Gov. Sununu. It clarifies that bikes can cross a solid yellow line on a road if it’s necessary to safely pass “a  pedestrian or a device moved by human power, including a bicycle, skateboard, or foot-scooter” (um, “foot-scooter”?) and, more intriguingly, makes this change to existing law, where the bold material is new:

2  Method of Giving Hand-and-Arm Signals.  Amend RSA 265:47, II to read as follows:

II.  Right turn–Hand and arm extended upward.  Or optionally, when on a bicycle, by extending the right hand and arm horizontally

I’m not much of a bicycle rider, but it had never occurred to me to signal right-hand turns with my right hand; I’ve always used the left arm in an upright L shape. Now it will.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says this kind of signal is fine, although it calls it the “alternate” version (see PDF here).

People who are vastly more knowledgeable about bicycles than I pointed me to a site called Velominati, which is a semi-obnoxious, semi-clever tirade about proper bicycle procedure as seen from the point of view of bike racers. It says this about signaling right-hand turns:

    1. Rule #63//

      Point in the direction you’re turning.

      Signal a left turn by pointing your left arm to the left. To signal a right turn, simply point with your right arm to the right. This one is, presumably, mostly for Americans: that right-turn signal that Americans are taught to make with your left arm elbow-out and your forearm pointing upwards was developed for motor-vehicles prior to the invention of the electric turn signal since it was rather difficult to reach from the driver-side all the way out the passenger-side window to signal a right turn. On a bicycle, however, we don’t have this limitation and it is actually quite easy to point your right arm in the direction you are turning. The American right-turn signal just makes you look like you’re waving “hello” to traffic

As I said, clever. And a bit obnoxious.



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