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Bike bell etiquette

By pug206gti - 5 November 2008 43

I’m a pedestrian as well as an occasional commuting cyclist but have never quite come to understand how best to use my bell while on a shared walking/cycle path, nor what the bell from behind means.

Certainly as a pedestrian the ding right behind me usually leads to me jumping out of my skin so I’ve stopped ringing my bell when I’m cycling so much.  I tend now instead to steer wide around people often leaving the formed path, and if necessary announce ‘passing on your right/left’.

Is ringing at 2m behind the problem?  Would ringing with a bit more notice change perceptions?

As a gauge of community views, what do Rioters think of this?  Am I just being a bit skittish in fearing the bell means impending collision?  I guess it could also mean get off the path you silly walker/a mere warning of presence/hi!/gosh you have a good behind…

What’s Your opinion?


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43 Responses to
Bike bell etiquette
1
Whatsup 7:59 am
05 Nov 08
#

As a frequent walker I am happy for the cyclist to ring their bell as they approach. It gives me a chance to get the dog and children out of the way. It might be different if you were out walking quietly by yourself.

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2
Davo111 8:22 am
05 Nov 08
#

I usually try and overtake [slowly] without ringing the bell for the reason that people tend to jump into your path when they get surprised.

If i can see something which is a little more risky (kids around, pets, swerving cyclist, couple walking etc) then i will ring my bell.

I try to avoid leaving the path because it’s easy to fall over when merging back onto the path (erosion around the edge of the path can make it quite difficult to merge back on).

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3
Pommy bastard 8:37 am
05 Nov 08
#

Bloody cycle nazi’s I hate em. I make a point of taking my three dogs well off the path and allowing these shaven legged half wits the freedom of the path when I spot them. Less than 10% ever give me a nod of acknowledgment for helping them achieve an unprecedented 3 second beating of their record time into work…

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4
Kramer 8:41 am
05 Nov 08
#

I ride MTBs, none of which have a bell. So when passing people I’ll either slow right down if I’m passing close by (usually on narrow paths/bridges), or give them a wide berth (off the path) and pass at speed. If they’ve got kids, dogs, or are just all over the place then I’ll yell out “g’day” from some distance away, which usually gets them into line.

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5
mdme workalot 8:53 am
05 Nov 08
#

I had an interesting experience the other day – I was crossing a pedestrian crossing and two cyclists who were riding on the road started ringing their bells, didn’t give way to me (and clipped my ankle in the process) and then had the gall to shout stuff at me as they were riding off!!! WTF?

I got into my car and started driving home and passed them a little further down the road – the one and only time I’ve been tempted to drive my car past close enough to give them a bit of a scare…

Back OT – I don’t mind cyclists ringing their bell, but when I walk I always stick to the left side of the path so cyclists can go past, therefore ringing the bell is unnecessary. And regardless of if you ring the bell or not, I will not step off the footpath into the mud for you to pass…

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6
deye 9:34 am
05 Nov 08
#

When approaching someone from behind you ring the bell to let them know you are there. Hopefully they are nice enough to move to the left of the track to give you enough room to overtake – especially if there are several people.

Don’t ring when you are right behind them, they are likely to jump into you. The tricky part is judging when to ring so that they can hear you, but not give them a fright. If I ring the bell and they don’t seem to notice then I ring it again until they do.

If you don’t ring to let them know you are there then there is a very good chance they will happen to move into your path unexpectedly.

I always say thank you as I go past.

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7
blueberry 10:07 am
05 Nov 08
#

I have the same problem when i am inline skating around the lake.
Unfortunately my skates don’t have a bell and it is pretty hard to go around somebody if you have to go on to the grass.

Usually i just try and make a bit of noise with my skates so that they can hear that i am behind them, but if that doesn’t work i usually just shout a friendly ‘hello’ or ‘excuse me’

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8
Morgan 10:14 am
05 Nov 08
#

As a frequent cyclist, I wish people would think about the bike paths as a road, keep left overtake on the right etc.

Not that I am saying a bike path is for bikes only, but I wish pedestrians would recognise that bikes have just as much right to be using those paths as they do. Three parents with strollers walking abreast is not helpful.

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9
Jim Jones 10:43 am
05 Nov 08
#

I’m with Morgan. The amount of dopey mofos who waddle about in the middle of the bike path and then get aggro because you had to squeeze past them give me the sh1ts. I would have thought that a bit of *mutual* respect was in order here.

Which ties into another petty pet-hate of mine, people who hog the escalators in shopping malls. I was also taught to stay to the left, so that people in a hurry could get past – it’s such a small thing, but rather indicative of having a modicum of thought about other people. If that’s anything to go by, the entire mallgoing population of Canberra are nothing but a bunch of self-interested bastards.

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10
Pesty 10:49 am
05 Nov 08
#

Jim Jones said :

I’m with Morgan. The amount of dopey mofos who waddle about in the middle of the bike path and then get aggro because you had to squeeze past them give me the sh1ts. I would have thought that a bit of *mutual* respect was in order here.

Which ties into another petty pet-hate of mine, people who hog the escalators in shopping malls. I was also taught to stay to the left, so that people in a hurry could get past – it’s such a small thing, but rather indicative of having a modicum of thought about other people. If that’s anything to go by, the entire mallgoing population of Canberra are nothing but a bunch of self-interested bastards.

Happy days are here again!

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11
niftydog 11:04 am
05 Nov 08
#

From ACT Road Rules:
“A person must not ride a bicycle that does not have… a bell, horn, or similar warning device, in working order.”

Cycle Paths

• Keep to the left…
• …give way to any pedestrians.
• If approaching pedestrians from behind, ring your bell to let them know you are coming, slow down as you pass and give them right of way.”

I ring the bell (on my MTB!) about 5-10 metres back, and again at 2-3 metres if I think they haven’t noticed. Most people I encounter are expecting bike traffic and will acknowledge you without freaking out by either stepping aside or watching for you on their right side. I try not to go whizzing past at top speed, but I also don’t want to have to slow down for every pedestrian. Anything else tends to cause confusion. Some people yell out “BIKE!” or “PASSING!” (or “G’DAY!”) but that freaks out more people than the bell, IME.

If people make a specific effort like rounding up kids and dogs, or breaking from a group of runners to clear a path, I will say thanks as I pass. I also acknowledge drivers who will stop at pedestrian crossings to let me ride across. The law states you’re supposed to dismount, but it seems most people either are unaware of that rule, or like me, think it’s unnecessary. Still, since they’re technically not obliged to stop I think it’s only courteous to give them a wave of thanks.

The problem I see most often is people with iPods et al. They don’t hear the bell or your puffing and wheezing and they will often freak out as you pass regardless of how fast or slow you’re going or what warning you give. That, and the Airbus A380 Pram Brigades… as far as I’m concerned, if they aren’t sharing the path then they deserve to be buzzed.

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12
Swaggie 11:29 am
05 Nov 08
#

Niftydog nails it but with the “puffing and wheezing” I’m wondering if he should be on a bike at all! :)

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13
Jim Jones 11:33 am
05 Nov 08
#

Pesty said :

Jim Jones said :

Happy days are here again!

so … much … anger …

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14
imarty 12:22 pm
05 Nov 08
#

I agree with deye, I say thanks and if I’m walking, I apprececiate a warning whether its a bell or a friendly ‘passing’ ‘bike’ or similar. A bike rushing past without warning startles me.

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15
harley 12:40 pm
05 Nov 08
#

so you bike nuts want right-of-way on the shared paths?

get off your high-horses and accept that peds have the right-of-way even if they are being arsebiscuits. It’s no different in a car, you hit a ped, even a stupid one, and you’re in the wrong. You may have an equal “right” to use the path, but you have a much greater responsibility to avoid collisions.

“buzzing” people isn’t going to endear you to anyone.

Thumbs up to Davo111, Kramer and deye for their responsible attitude.

All that said – we have a bike path 6 meters from our front door, bordering an oval. The cyclists around our area seem to be a responsible lot, and take care around the kids that play out there (ours included)…

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