Guide 3: Road Signs
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
Signs that are red and circular give orders that must be obeyed
This sign indicates that no motor vehicles are permitted beyond this point.
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’.
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.
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.
Examples of Common Road Signs
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 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.
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.
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.
In this case you must not make a right turn.
This is commonly seen as you approach traffic islands. You must keep to the left-hand side of the sign as you pass it.
This sign will indicate which side of the road will narrow. This example shows that the road will narrow on the right hand side.
This is of particular importance to motorcyclist, as side winds affect stability.
You will find this sign where there are parking spaces for motorcycles only.
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.
All vehicles must stop and give way before moving beyond the sign
There will also be a solid white line across the road.
No vehicle of any type is allowed beyond the point of this road sign.
These signs show when and where parking is allowed on the road. In some locations parking may be banned at all times.
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 operational at all times shown
Motorcycles are not permitted to use bus lanes unless a motorcycle symbol is shown on the sign.
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 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.
Indicates that there is a dip in the road ahead and warns drivers to slow down while driving at a high speed.
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