Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication for Cyclists

If you plan on riding a bike with a group then it is best that you learn some verbal and non-verbal communication to be able to communicate with other cyclists riding with you.

There are a lot of common phrases and gestures in the cycling world that help make group riding much safer. Here are a few tips to get you ready to communicate and understand others out on the road!


We all know not to run red lights, right? But have you thought about how it’s equally dangerous to stop abruptly when the light suddenly turns yellow and you have a group of 40 barreling along at 25mph behind you? If it’s a fresh yellow, you can and should roll it – and yell “ROLLING!” to those behind you to signal your attention.


Use “CLEAR!” to indicate an intersection is safe to cross. Avoid yelling “GO!” as it can easily get heard as “NO!” and create confusion.


This phrase is passed up through the group when there is a vehicle behind everyone that is attempting to overtake the group.


Use “STOPPING!” if you’re rolling up to some traffic lights and you intend to stop. This alerts the group to your attention. “SLOWING!” can be used in a similar fashion. Avoid yelling “CAR!” if a car is coming across an uncontrolled intersection. This sounds too much like “CLEAR!” to be useful.An open palm is another way to indicate slowing and is often done in combination with the verbal cue.

Keep Out of the Gutter

Signal to move away from the gutter by waving your hand behind your back in the direction you want the group to move.


This is called out to the group when there is a vehicle parked on the side of the road. As it is meant to alert everyone to move over, some people will use the wave described just above along with a loud “CAR UP!” to the group.


Use “RIDERS UP!” when you are in a fast moving group and are about to pass another rider or group of riders. This alerts your group to move over to the left. Remember to always pass on the left hand side in North American and Europe and on the right hand side in Australia and the UK.

Indicate a Road Hazard

Simply pointing to a pothole or other road hazard will be enough to signal to the other riders of what is up ahead. Do this well before the hazard is near and predictably move over so you don’t roll past too close to it.

Glass or Loose Gravel

Similar to the road hazard signal but with a slight variation. Point but wave with the finger doing the pointing. This signals that the hazard is scattered.

Pull Through

A gentle flick of the elbow on the side of the riders that are moving forward indicates that you want the next rider to come through to pull a turn.


Raise your hand, stop pedaling and hold a straight line until everyone has passed you. When the group is safely ahead, pull over to deal with your flat.

It's not the rider, it's the bike. Refer to the rules.
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