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Guide 3: Road Signs


James B · December 18, 2018

Understanding road signs is vital to being safe and alert on the road. When you’re confident with the different signs you’ll see out and about your ride with more confidence and awareness. In this guide we cover some of most important (but not all) signs for new motorcyclists.

Types of Road Signs

road sign

Signs that are red and circular give orders that must be obeyed

This sign indicates that no motor vehicles are permitted beyond this point.

arrow up sign

Signs that are blue and circular (with no red border) give instructions that must be followed

This sign shows the direction you must travel in - ‘ahead only’.

warning signs

Signs that are triangular give warnings

This sign shows that traffic is merging from left ahead - The priority through route is indicated by the broader line.

direction sign

Signs that are rectangular give directions (colours vary)

Motorways have blue backgrounds, main roads have green backgrounds, and local routes have white backgrounds with black borders.

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Examples of Common Road Signs

Give Way

The most common type of give way sign is an upside down triangle displaying the words 'GIVE WAY'. If differs to other triangular signs so it's clearly recognisable even if the letters are covered by snow for example.

It warns you that there is a junction ahead which leads to a major road and the traffic on that road has priority. You must stop and wait for a safe gap in the traffic before moving on again.

give way sign

Give way to oncoming vehicles

Another type of give way sign states that vehicles travelling in the direction of the black arrow have priority over those travelling the other way (red arrow).

National Speed Limit

This sign tells you that the national speed limit applies to the stretch of road ahead.

This speed varies depending on where you are riding. In built up areas the speed limit is 30mph, for single carriage way roads it is 60mph and on dual carriage way it is 70mph.

Maximum Speed

One of the most common road signs out there. This will contain a number (miles per hour) in the middle of a red circle, referring to the maximum speed permitted on the road you are riding on.

It may have the word 'ZONE' written below it.

hump sign

Road humps

These signs warn road users that they must slow their speed due to a speed hump ahead. These are positioned in places where traffic needs to slow down for safety purposes.

banned turn sign

Banned turn

In this case you must not make a right turn.

keep left sign

Keep left

This is commonly seen as you approach traffic islands. You must keep to the left-hand side of the sign as you pass it.

road narrowing

Road Narrowing

This sign will indicate which side of the road will narrow. This example shows that the road will narrow on the right hand side.

side winds

Side winds

This is of particular importance to motorcyclist, as side winds affect stability.

parking signs

Motorcycle Parking

You will find this sign where there are parking spaces for motorcycles only.

slippery road sign

Slippery roads ahead

Warns road users to be cautious and take extra care as there is either water, ice or snow on the road ahead.

stop sign

All vehicles must stop and give way before moving beyond the sign

There will also be a solid white line across the road.

do not enter sign

No entry

No vehicle of any type is allowed beyond the point of this road sign.

controlled sign

Restricted parking

These signs show when and where parking is allowed on the road. In some locations parking may be banned at all times.

red route sign

Red route - No stopping is allowed for any reason except busses, unless indicated by a sign during certain times

These roads may also be indicated by red lines at the side instead of the usual yellow lines.

bus lane sign

Bus lane operational at all times shown

Motorcycles are not permitted to use bus lanes unless a motorcycle symbol is shown on the sign.

No overtaking

Indicating that it it illegal to overtake due to reasons such as the road ahead being too narrow or due to poor visibility.

No U Turn sign

No U turns allowed

These signs are posted at intersections and tell road users that it is illegal to make U-turns in that area.

Pedestrians in the road ahead

Be cautious of pedestrians who may be walking in the road due to lack of pavement. If pedestrians are spotted ahead, give them plenty of room.

No vehicles allowed and no motor vehicles allowed

Both of these signs mean you are not permitted to ride your motorbike in the stretch of road ahead.

Hidden Dip

Indicates that there is a dip in the road ahead and warns drivers to slow down while driving at a high speed.

roundabout ahead

Roundabout ahead

Warns to proceed with caution as there is a roundabout intersection approaching.

Take some time to go through the different types of signs, what they mean and where you might see them. Practice with a friend and when you feel confident move onto guide 4.

NEXT: Guide 4: Roundabouts

This information is given to you as a guide to support you in your choice of licence and RideTo has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided about motorcycle licence and training requirements. However, RideTo cannot guarantee the information is up to date, correct and complete and is therefore provided on an "as is" basis only. RideTo accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss or damage howsoever arising. We recommend that you verify the current licence and training requirements by checking the DVSA website.