Monday, 2 January 2012

Ring a Bell?

I hadn't had a bell on a bike since the 70's until I started to use a Brompton to commute a couple of years ago. The bell on the Brompton came in for frequent use on towpaths where its polite ding seems to go down well with most pedestrians.

In fact I've since added a bell to my mountain bike (which didn't have one for its first 14 years) because I often use it on the towpaths and sometimes a couple of bridlepaths where I have also found it useful. Sometimes a pedestrian might not hear the bell, especially if they're wearing headphones, so I'll shout to alert them.

Either way I'll slow down to pass people and always thank them for letting me pass - these are shared use paths so we ought to "share nicely" (like our Mums told us when we were little). There has been a "Two Tings" campaigns on towpaths around the country and in Rochdale bells were fitted free of charge to towpath users who wanted them.

Not sure I'll put one on my road bike though, I don't think it would work so well with traffic and the general noise levels on the road.


  1. Interesting. I always thought tinkling a bell was a sign of impatience, so none of my bicycles has a bell. Surely clacking a brake lever once or twice would give polite notice without making any demands, and if that failed you could always talk, cough or just wait for a better passing spot?

    Apparently not. Out walking with keener walkers this weekend I learned that many prefer a ting or jingle and don't see it as rude at all - it makes it easier for them to be considerate if they know you're there, and a bell is audible and unequivocal... Hmm, I must still have one somewhere?

    1. Yes I thought the same until recently but as you say the bell is more welcome than alternatives nowadays.

      Thanks for commenting

  2. Not just nowadays. Bells have always been wanted on bikes by the general public, who have NEVER learnt to associate the other random noises made by some cyclists, with the approach of a bicycle. Why would they?

    What's different nowadays is the competition for road space has become so hot that pedestrians and cyclists are forced to cohabit much more. Even sporty cyclists. Since the 90s there's even a whole new cycle sport that happens exclusively on paths shared with pedestrians, whose demands for bells on bikes have consequentially become most insistent - in the face of the 'serious' mountain-biker's perverse aversion to this useful item of obstacle clearance equipment!

    I've ALWAYS had a bell on my MTB, and nowadays on most of my other bikes too.