The No Bell Bicyclists

By 27 December, 2012 189

An encounter today on the shared footpath/bicycle caused a bicyclist who had no bell. We did not hear him coming from behind. I asked him where his bell was. He said he didn’t need one as it didn’t fit on his bars.

Well here is what you need under the ACT Road Rules:

258 Equipment on a bicycle

A person must not ride a bicycle that does not have:

(a) at least 1 effective brake; and

(b) a bell, horn, or similar warning device, in working order.

Offence provision.

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189 Responses to The No Bell Bicyclists
#31
trevar8:56 am, 28 Dec 12

trevar said :

An encounter today on the shared footpath/bicycle caused a bicyclist who had no bell.

Did no one actually read the original post? The ‘encounter’ that occurred caused the bicyclist. Now, a bicyclist being a human being, there is only one type of encounter that causes human beings to come into existence, and this type of encounter is also illegal in this instance as it is not permitted in a public place.

Don’t be so hard on the bicyclist with no bell; s/he had no choice but to be caused. But the fact that Zan and whoever s/he was with caused this bicyclist with no bell and then started bad mouthing said bicyclist with no bell on a public forum such as RiotACT really doesn’t endear our Zan to me. Terrible parenting… though very fast parenting too if the bicyclist was indeed caused and came to be riding a bike on the same day… I couldn’t ride a bike for several years after I was caused.

But really, I’m with DrKoresh; get over yourself and start enjoying your retirement instead of getting cranky about nothing (or at least nothing you’re willing to describe clearly).

#32
miz9:06 am, 28 Dec 12

Agree with OP. Bike riders, just have a working bell on your bike, and ring it on approach so your approach is noted. It really ain’t hard, and it’s THE LAW. Using your voice is no substitute as it can be indistinguishable from other voices, whereas a bell cuts through to ‘send a signal’.

I can’t believe that some numb-nuts are actually quibbling with the OP on this issue. No wonder people are generally shitty with bike riders – in general, they are a selfish and discourteous lot. However, thank you to those few bell ringers out there for your persistent curtesy. It is appreciated more than you know.

#33
Jono9:17 am, 28 Dec 12

I always find threads like this fascinating. I’ve said this before on previous threads, but I’ve been a daily user of the shared paths in Canberra as a cyclist, walker and runner for 25 years and I’ve never had a serious run in with anybody. As a cyclist, I try to be considerate to pedestrians, and I’ll ring my bell, or call “cyclist”, when I deem it to be appropriate (as has been mentioned the random behaviour of some pedestrians upon hearing the bell can be a hazard), and as a pedestrian I’m always aware of the fact that there could be a cyclist coming up behind me or just around the next corner and act accordingly.

Thoughtfulness and consideration on both parts goes a long way.

#34
KB19719:18 am, 28 Dec 12

Zan said :

Are all you a bit short of grey cells? The point is that it is the law to have a bell on the bike. That is what this is about. Not about whether I got a fright on the bike path.

It is the LAW to have a bell on the bike.

ACT Road Rules:

258 Equipment on a bicycle

A person must not ride a bicycle that does not have:
(a) at least 1 effective brake; and
(b) a bell, horn, or similar warning device, in working order.
Offence provision.

Um no but you are missing one crucial part of the rule “OR SIMILAR WARNING DEVICE”.

Section A(b) does not mandate that a bike must have a bell, just a warning device which may be a bell.

If he uses his voice as a warning then he may consider that to be in accordance with the law, a loose interpretation yes but the law does not tighten it down to just a bell or horn.

#35
milkman9:20 am, 28 Dec 12

wildturkeycanoe said :

Zan, I wonder if you drive a car. If you did, how do you contain your frustration at the constant law breaking on our roads every minute of your travels?
If the person coming up behind you was on a skateboard, roller skates or fold up scooter, would you still be in angst if they didn’t “ring” before overtaking you?
Now here is an interesting scenario to add to your worries – if the pedestrian has their MP3 player plugged in and blaring ACDC at 90dB, how do they hear your bicycle bell? The whole concept of fair warning goes out the window, so should they ban personal music headsets from shared paths too????

So because some people break the law that makes it ok for others? Really?

#36
Aubergine9:23 am, 28 Dec 12

Point 1: Bells are required by law on bikes.
Point 2: A bell’s sound carries further than an average voice calling out one of an endless variety of silly phrases (“passing”, “bike behind”, “coming through”, “look out you morons” etc).
Point 3: In many countries (especially where lane markings are nonexistent or ignored by drivers) cars do in fact use their horn to indicate they’re about to pass.
Point 4 onwards: Just use your bell, once when you see someone ahead and again when you get closer. Most people will appreciate it. Those who don’t will soon learn to, when all cyclists do the same.

#37
bigfeet9:48 am, 28 Dec 12

One of the biggest problems I see is that well over half of the walkers have their iPod on and blasting away at levels that make it impossible for them to be aware of their surroundings anyway.

So you can ring, sound a horn, shout or fire a shotgun and they still don’t know you are coming until you are upon them.

Don’t get me started on motorists and cyclists wearing earphones either. I am stunned everytime I see that.

#38
bikhet11:47 am, 28 Dec 12

KB1971 said :

Zan said :

Are all you a bit short of grey cells? The point is that it is the law to have a bell on the bike. That is what this is about. Not about whether I got a fright on the bike path.

It is the LAW to have a bell on the bike.

ACT Road Rules:

258 Equipment on a bicycle

A person must not ride a bicycle that does not have:
(a) at least 1 effective brake; and
(b) a bell, horn, or similar warning device, in working order.
Offence provision.

Um no but you are missing one crucial part of the rule “OR SIMILAR WARNING DEVICE”.

Section A(b) does not mandate that a bike must have a bell, just a warning device which may be a bell.

If he uses his voice as a warning then he may consider that to be in accordance with the law, a loose interpretation yes but the law does not tighten it down to just a bell or horn.

OK,so I’m a pedant, but:

1) a bicyclists’ voice is part of the bicyclist, not part of the bicycle; and

2) a voice is generally not a device.

#39
kakosi12:09 pm, 28 Dec 12

I think the real solution is to get bikes out of pedestrian areas. Far too dangerous mixing the two together.

Or…make it the law that bikes give way to pedestrians. This way they have to slow down to avoid a collision.

If bike riders want to ride at high speeds, it’s simple – get on the roads.

#40
Postalgeek12:15 pm, 28 Dec 12

bikhet said :

KB1971 said :

Zan said :

Are all you a bit short of grey cells? The point is that it is the law to have a bell on the bike. That is what this is about. Not about whether I got a fright on the bike path.

It is the LAW to have a bell on the bike.

ACT Road Rules:

258 Equipment on a bicycle

A person must not ride a bicycle that does not have:
(a) at least 1 effective brake; and
(b) a bell, horn, or similar warning device, in working order.
Offence provision.

Um no but you are missing one crucial part of the rule “OR SIMILAR WARNING DEVICE”.

Section A(b) does not mandate that a bike must have a bell, just a warning device which may be a bell.

If he uses his voice as a warning then he may consider that to be in accordance with the law, a loose interpretation yes but the law does not tighten it down to just a bell or horn.

OK,so I’m a pedant, but:

1) a bicyclists’ voice is part of the bicyclist, not part of the bicycle; and

2) a voice is generally not a device.

Hmm, true. I say give them what they want:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9U75etv6mA

#41
markbuzz12:22 pm, 28 Dec 12

The road rules say a bicycle needs a warning device, but does that apply to just use on a road or road-like area or on all bicycles in all forms of use such as on a shared path as per the OP?

#42
Cimexus12:25 pm, 28 Dec 12

bikhet said :

OK,so I’m a pedant, but:

1) a bicyclists’ voice is part of the bicyclist, not part of the bicycle; and

2) a voice is generally not a device.

Agreed. I don’t think any reasonable interpretation of the provision would include a person’s voice as a “similar warning device”. It’s defining something the bike has to have, not the rider of the bike.

From personal experience, if you are walking along a shared path and talking with the person beside you, it’s quite difficult to hear an approaching cyclist’s voice. They should have a bell and use it. Lights too.

I both cycle and walk on the shared paths on a regular basis so don’t have any particular pro- or anti-bike bias, but do agree with the OP in this case that a bell should have been used (though personally, I wouldn’t have made the comment to the passing cyclist, as you’d be quite likely to get abuse flung back at you).

#43
hotwaterservice12:33 pm, 28 Dec 12

Interestingly the relevant ACT Road Rules note:

258. Equipment on a bicycle

A person must not ride a bicycle that does not have—

(a) at least 1 effective brake; and

(b) a bell, horn, or similar warning device, in working order. Penalty: 1 penalty unit.

It does not say anywhere that one needs to use any of these devices or that warnings can not be given with a voice.

A brief relevant voiced warning (given well ahead of a walking/cycling/scooting obstacle) is often an useful complement or an even better alternative than a bell for easily startled pedestrians (deer in headlights syndrome). My voice is way louder and carries further than any bell or horn short of a super duper you bewt air horn. Being ready to ride around obstacles (dreamy pedestrians) and off the path or stop if necessary is always an essential component of safe riding. I find I have more trouble with hapless Canberran motorists (especially those in 4WDs).

#44
hotwaterservice12:40 pm, 28 Dec 12

Of course, the more pervasive issue is one of bad shared path design.

Consider the following article “Paths – Wide Enough for Everyone” from Bicycle Network Victoria (http://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au/general/bike-futures/30162/) which advocates safer often wider and separated path design. Chicken and the egg issues regarding usage, safety and traffic load.

#45
bugmenot12:48 pm, 28 Dec 12

kakosi said :

I think the real solution is to get bikes out of pedestrian areas. Far too dangerous mixing the two together.

Or…make it the law that bikes give way to pedestrians. This way they have to slow down to avoid a collision.

If bike riders want to ride at high speeds, it’s simple – get on the roads.

You made tea come out of my nose!

#46
wildturkeycanoe2:50 pm, 28 Dec 12

milkman said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

Zan, I wonder if you drive a car. If you did, how do you contain your frustration at the constant law breaking on our roads every minute of your travels?
If the person coming up behind you was on a skateboard, roller skates or fold up scooter, would you still be in angst if they didn’t “ring” before overtaking you?
Now here is an interesting scenario to add to your worries – if the pedestrian has their MP3 player plugged in and blaring ACDC at 90dB, how do they hear your bicycle bell? The whole concept of fair warning goes out the window, so should they ban personal music headsets from shared paths too????

So because some people break the law that makes it ok for others? Really?

Putting words in my mouth there, how did you come up with that conclusion?? Really??

#47
jayskette3:03 pm, 28 Dec 12

Bells should only be used for things in your way, such as the many couples/groups of friends who decide to use both lanes in a shared path. Bells used as a warning of approach do not always work in your favour as many dogs/humans suddenly moving to the right will tell you :P

#48
drfelonious3:07 pm, 28 Dec 12

The problem is a lack of appreciation by pedestrians that the paths are shared. Not owned by pedestrians – but shared. I wonder Zan are you the self-appointed policewoman of pedestrians keeping to the left as well?

Zan seems to assume cyclists will ring their bell whenever they are coming up behind – regardless of whether or not you are taking up the whole path. But why would a cyclist need to ring his/her bell if there is oodles of space and Zan is keeping to the left side of the path as per the numerous signs requiring pedestrians to keep to the left? Hmmmmmm I wonder if the real problem here is that Zan thinks she owns the whole path.

What Zan as an anti-cyclist pedestrian completely fails to appreciate is that not everyone is like Zan (and thank goodness for that). Other pedestrians expect different behaviour from cyclists – indeed many pedestrians wish for cyclists not to ring their bells so as not to disturb their walk. Yet other pedestrians assume that they can take up both sides of the path and expect bikes to go around them – bell or no bell.

As a very regular cyclist I have to anticipate all sorts of idiosyncratic behaviour from pedestrians and need to be prepared to take evasive action at all times. In years of cycling I have never hit a pedestrian, nor seen a pedestrian hit (despite a lot of random behaviours by pedestrians). I have, however, seen several horrific accidents where cyclists have been hit by cars.

So lets get things in perspective shall we?

I hope Zan treats the New Year as an opportunity to focus all that retirement spare time on finding some solutions to real problems. Or maybe ride a mile in a cyclist’s shoes by getting on a bike to see how the other half live.

#49
snoopydoc3:08 pm, 28 Dec 12

It’s often a toss-up as to which is more likely to cause a collision (or a sudden stop/swerve), ringing your bell and hoping they don’t jump the wrong way when they do the “Oh my, what the hell is that? A bike? On a cycle/shared path?!” dance maneuver… or plotting a safe course around them which will be just fine if they don’t very suddenly change course (in the no-bell situation, the majority of situationally unaware pedestrians tend to be behind me before they have had time to have their surprised jumping fit reaction).

Similarly, it’s difficult to know what will make the pedestrian more affronted… having a bell rung insistently behind them as you approach (interpreted wrongly as a rude “Get out of the way” rather than the polite warning it is intended to be)… or being startled when you ride past without warning them because you judged it would probably be safer, based on age/gender/headphones/degree of randomness of their trajectory so far, position of other (particularly oncoming) path traffic, etc.

I personally use my bell and if they think it’s rude… well… it’s not my fault they’re a moron.

#50
DrKoresh3:57 pm, 28 Dec 12

bikhet said :

To all those getting stuck into Zan – you’re a bunch of self-centered pricks.

In another thread there’s a report of someone doing 168 in a 90 zone. No-one was hurt as a result of the driver’s stupidity. Do you claim that that driver can break the law because it doesn’t suit him? That what you are doing on behalf of the cyclist without a bell.

How Canberran!

That my friend, is a false analogy. The potential for injury caused by a car is exponentially greater than that of a bicycle, but we’re not even talking about speeding here. All Zan is upset about is that the person didn’t have a bell, but if they did have one and had still ridden past without ringing it the cyclist wouldn’t be committing any offence. It sounds like the OP is just a controlling busy-body with too much time on her hands. I don’t see how that makes me self-centred, if anything it sounds like Zan thinks she is the centre of the universe and it’s laws must conform to her will.

#51
Grrrr6:34 pm, 28 Dec 12

DrKoresh said :

All Zan is upset about is that the person didn’t have a bell, but if they did have one and had still ridden past without ringing it the cyclist wouldn’t be committing any offence.

Finally, someone gets to the crux of the matter.

Zan – it’s a non-issue, so get over it.

#52
bikhet6:46 pm, 28 Dec 12

DrKoresh said :

bikhet said :

To all those getting stuck into Zan – you’re a bunch of self-centered pricks.

In another thread there’s a report of someone doing 168 in a 90 zone. No-one was hurt as a result of the driver’s stupidity. Do you claim that that driver can break the law because it doesn’t suit him? That what you are doing on behalf of the cyclist without a bell.

How Canberran!

That my friend, is a false analogy. The potential for injury caused by a car is exponentially greater than that of a bicycle, but we’re not even talking about speeding here. All Zan is upset about is that the person didn’t have a bell, but if they did have one and had still ridden past without ringing it the cyclist wouldn’t be committing any offence. It sounds like the OP is just a controlling busy-body with too much time on her hands. I don’t see how that makes me self-centred, if anything it sounds like Zan thinks she is the centre of the universe and it’s laws must conform to her will.

Only false in part. The point I was making was that both the idiotic driver and the bell-less cyclist have chosen to break the law. Yes, one act had a greater potential to cause harm than the other, but both are illegal.

#53
Sandman7:13 pm, 28 Dec 12

I find it funny that the initial response by the OP after the “encounter” was to do a thorough check to ensure all guidelines and requirements were being met by the “offending party”. It’s almost as though the purpose of the walk was to find something to whine about.

The first rule of whine club – you don’t whine about whine club.

#54
poetix8:49 pm, 28 Dec 12

I hope I never run into Zan when I’m walking the dogs and have forgotten a plastic bag…Citizen’s arrest?

#55
s-s-a10:21 pm, 28 Dec 12

Now, a bicyclist being a human being, there is only one type of encounter that causes human beings to come into existence, and this type of encounter is also illegal in this instance as it is not permitted in a public place

More than one type of encounter these days. The kind that “caused” the small bicyclist in my household isn’t illegal in public and I wasn’t even present when it happened!

#56
DrKoresh11:41 pm, 28 Dec 12

s-s-a said :

More than one type of encounter these days. The kind that “caused” the small bicyclist in my household isn’t illegal in public and I wasn’t even present when it happened!

+1,000,000,000!
Isn’t science wonderful?

#57
Aeek4:35 pm, 29 Dec 12

I rode with an air horn for 6 months, then it died. The number of pedestrians who completely ignored it was impressive. My guess is because it was so loud they assumed it was on the nearby road and not on the path behind them.

#58
Frustrated8:04 pm, 29 Dec 12

sien said :

The person’s voice is a similar device.

Bells are risky. A bell can make someone suddenly move left, right, stop or who knows what. Try ringing a bell near someone from a country that drives on the left.

You can also have a bell, and not use the device.

BS, they morons who ride around the bicyle paths yelling out ‘Bike’ at their top of their voice is not different.

Or the wankers who ask you to move out of there way, because there bikes are suitable to be ridden on grass.

I dont care what type of push bike you have, they are pedestrian paths also.

#59
Aeek9:08 pm, 29 Dec 12

Frustrated said :

Or the wankers who ask you to move out of there way, because there bikes are suitable to be ridden on grass.

There are those who choose to walk on the right, on the understanding they will move out of the way.
How to tell them vs those walking on the wrong side?

#60
DrKoresh10:01 pm, 29 Dec 12

Aeek said :

I rode with an air horn for 6 months, then it died. The number of pedestrians who completely ignored it was impressive. My guess is because it was so loud they assumed it was on the nearby road and not on the path behind them.

Maybe they decided that the type of person of obnoxious enough to use an airhorn as a bicycle bell wouldn’t be worth pissing on if they were on fire, let alone moving to the left.

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