Bike indicators no substitute for a clear hand signal

Road rule changes allow indicators on bikes
Sticking your hand out into traffic is no longer the only signalling option for cyclists after the Government cleared the way for indicators on bicycles.

New vehicle lighting rules that come into force on April 1 will allow cyclists to attach brake and indicator lights. Until now, a white headlight and a red rear-facing light have been the only lights cyclists were allowed to show. Indicator and brake lights were not specifically banned, but were not included on the list of legal bicycle lighting.

The New Zealand Transport Authority said the changes accommodated advances in technology and brought New Zealand in line with international practice.

Cycling Advocates' Network spokesman Patrick Morgan said it was a sensible move but unlikely to make roads safer for cyclists.

"Our advice to people is that a good clear hand signal to let other people know what you're doing is the best option. Don't just rely on indicators."

Craig Anderson, manager of Penny Farthing Cycles in Courtenay Place, said indicators on a bike were a good idea.

"A lot of people, especially new cyclists or older cyclists, might be a bit reluctant to take their hands off the handlebars to signal, so a switch on their handlebars that they could flick might appeal."

An Auckland company, Bicygnals, sells sets of indicator lights for $119.

Among other changes in the rules, motorists will be allowed to use emergency brake lights which flash briefly under heavy braking.

It will also be mandatory for all light trailers first registered after April 1 next year to be fitted with indicator and stop lamps. Lamps are not required at present if hand signals are visible.
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The cycling fraternity has welcomed new legislation allowing them greater visibility on the roads.

Under changes to the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Lighting Amendment (2011), those who ride bicycles will have the option of using stop lamps and indicators from April 1. The amendment states advances in lighting technology means that stop lamps and indicators are now available for bicycles.

The previous rule specifically prohibited such systems.

Now, it is illegal to have stop and direction-indicator lamps on bikes, but the amendment will reverse that.

Cycling Advocates Network spokesman Patrick Morgan said it was a sensible clearing up of the regulation. "The current regulation allows for white lights at front and red or orange to the rear; currently indicators are prohibited.

"We think it's a sensible clearing up of the regulation." Technology had moved on and that it was time the legislation caught up with technology, he said.

However, a clear hand signal was the best way to communicate with other road users, he said.

The Cyclery's Andrew Lawry agreed, saying a hand signal was a better option than indicators. "Hand signals are a lot more eye-catching."

South Canterbury Squeeky Wheels cycling advocacy group spokesman Ron Paulin said hand signals were still the better option for cyclists. "The motoring public has got used to cyclists using hand signals; our advice is that even if you have got indicator lights, hand signals are a good thing to do till more cyclists have lights."
- Timaru Herald