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The No Bell Bicyclists

By Zan - 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.

What’s Your opinion?


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189 Responses to
The No Bell Bicyclists
76
OpenYourMind 9:39 am
06 Jan 13
#

Cyclist really can’t take a trick with this one. There’s all these anti cyclist people who say bikes shouldn’t be on the road, then they turn around and say bikes shouldn’t be on cycle paths or should be going at the same speed as a pedestrian. As for speed, what speed should a cyclist be doing on a shared path? When I ride on the road, it’s not like I expect cars passing me to slow down to the 25-40km/h I might be doing. The only expectation I have is that they overtake me safely.

I’ve been riding/walking/running Canberra’s bike paths/shared paths for 35+ years and never had any real issues. From what I’ve seen, the people that bitch about lack of warning are usually the ones meandering all over the path. If you keep left, keep your dog on a leash to your left and keep your kids closely monitored and to the left (and yes, I have kids) then it shouldn’t matter to you whether a cyclist uses a bell or not. By the same token, it’s a responsibility of us cyclists to warn other path users of our approach and slow down if there’s a potential danger ahead such as kids/pets/horses.

For some of us, the shared paths aren’t just for a leisurely stroll. They are actually our path to work sometimes 25 or more kilometers away. Fortunately most people follow the simple keep left rule and our commute is usually the very best way to get to work.

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77
Girt_Hindrance 12:44 pm
06 Jan 13
#

I’d love to witness the pink fit that Zan would have upon seeing some of the home-made/modified Choppers/Tallbikes/Cargo bikes etc rolling around town. All road-legit according to the rules.

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78
HHR 12:14 pm
07 Jan 13
#

While I think it is better to warn pedestrians of your approach one way or another, using a bell does make more sense. For one, most bells sound the same, and so the sound is consistent, unlike the various phrases that cyclists use as a warning. The consistency means that once learnt, the sound of a bell approaching will always mean the same thing. Children and dogs will also learn what this sound means quicker than they will learn that a person yelling something from a distance means that there is a bicyclist coming. The human brain recognises and processes speech sounds differently than non-human sounds and so when you yell ‘bike’ etc. the brain first tries to process what you are saying before it processes the meaning and intention.

As a child in the early ’90s I learned from my parents and my school (we often had bike-riding excursions as a class) that as a pedestrian a bell means that there is a bicyclist coming, as well as to ring your bell when riding to warn pedestrians that you will be passing them soon. I still react quicker to a bell than I do to a voice, even though ringing a bell is no longer as common.

I think the key to this is consistency – either bring bells back into fashion, or pick a word, ‘bike’ is a pretty good one being so short and to the point, and a stick to it.

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79
NoImRight 12:44 pm
07 Jan 13
#

Id rather the bell than shouting “bike”. It always sounds like a royal command when its shouted out for some reason. I dont know if its just I notice more now but there seems to be an increasing number of bikes on the road living in an apparent safety bubble so Im happy to share with them on footpaths if it stops them wobbling about on busy roads and cutting through intersections.

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80
OpenYourMind 9:00 pm
08 Jan 13
#

NoImRight said :

Id rather the bell than shouting “bike”. It always sounds like a royal command when its shouted out for some reason. I dont know if its just I notice more now but there seems to be an increasing number of bikes on the road living in an apparent safety bubble so Im happy to share with them on footpaths if it stops them wobbling about on busy roads and cutting through intersections.

‘Bike’ is effective as saying anything longer makes the person stagger round to understand what phrase you just said. Bells just don’t work, they really don’t. My primary aim is to not run you (or your kids or dog) over, it will hurt you and me and damage my expensive bike. I just need you and those you love to keep left, that’s it! If you do this, then don’t need to feel startled or endangered. Simple.

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81
tuco 6:35 am
09 Jan 13
#

NoImRight said :

Id rather the bell than shouting “bike”. It always sounds like a royal command when its shouted out for some reason. I dont know if its just I notice more now but there seems to be an increasing number of bikes on the road living in an apparent safety bubble so Im happy to share with them on footpaths if it stops them wobbling about on busy roads and cutting through intersections.

I suppose calling “track” is a bridge too far. Don’t get me started on “race leader” either …

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82
Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 8:38 am
09 Jan 13
#

Still with this…

It really is easy. Walkers keep on the left side. Riders overtake on the right. If there are kiddies or dogs just pass on the grass or slow down a bit.

Anybody who gets startled by a bell or someone yelling bike probably shouldn’t be leaving the house anyways.

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83
borizuka 8:44 am
09 Jan 13
#

I just recently came back from asia, with having the full experience of both driving and cycling on their roads. I must say that all of you are a bunch of princesses. seriously.

I felt safer on the road over there, everyone gave way and there was never any issues with pedestrians, cyclists, scooters or cars like over here.

We have a lot to learn from under developed countries. One such thing is how to be friken nice and considerate of one another.

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84
KB1971 9:26 am
09 Jan 13
#

tuco said :

NoImRight said :

Id rather the bell than shouting “bike”. It always sounds like a royal command when its shouted out for some reason. I dont know if its just I notice more now but there seems to be an increasing number of bikes on the road living in an apparent safety bubble so Im happy to share with them on footpaths if it stops them wobbling about on busy roads and cutting through intersections.

I suppose calling “track” is a bridge too far. Don’t get me started on “race leader” either …

STRAVA!!!!!!!!

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85
Ryoma 10:00 am
09 Jan 13
#

Well, this post has certainly taken my mind off bushfires, and has made me laugh, for the following reasons;

1) How very Canberran (love the tag, by the way!) of us to rack up 83 posts between us over something as elementary as what used to be considered common courtesy.

2) #57 from @Aeek. I love the fact you had an air horn, but am disappointed at the reaction you got. I think having a naval foghorn attached to my bike would be fantastic fun to scare people with, watching them jump 6 foot into the air in fright as I came anywhere near them…mwahahaha :)

3) @borizuka, I agree with you. At least in most of Australia, our houses have setbacks from the road so that we have some idea of what’s coming around the next corner. When we visit Japan, Mrs Ryoma blithely rides through every blind corner without a care in the world, and smoothly dodges any passing scooters/bicycles or trucks that happen to be passing through.

Muggins, on the other hand, was not brought up to ride a bike in such anarchy, and so struggles to keep up because he is busy checking what’s left and right if he hears any noise at all. Mostly the noise is just Mrs Ryoma laughing at him….sigh….

Now to be a bit more sensible…

@Zan, I am sorry to hear you had such an encounter. Hopefully other cyclists act in a better manner in future, and use their bells or voices :)

Yes, using a bell is the law, and I do it when cycling. Having said that, most of us, either pedestrians or cyclists, react best when we slow down, communicate in a friendly manner, and then get on with our business.

Few of us like either getting a fright when walking; or having to either almost stop, or ride off the path (when cycling), so why don’t we all just adapt to the situation?

As Miss Manners says, law, which is applied with a broad brush, and removes individual discretion in a any given situation, has to be called upon when etiquette is no longer used. I agree with Jono @ post #33.

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86
carnardly 10:26 am
09 Jan 13
#

actually Ryoma, the only relevant law is that bikes must be fitted with an audible warning device. There is no law dictacting when, where or how it must be used.

As long as I have a device on my bike, I am legal. Legally I am also never required to even use it. But for courtesy’s sake I do.

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87
Ryoma 11:25 am
09 Jan 13
#

Hi Carnardly, fair enough, it may not be the law, and I think we are in agreement about the courtesy side of things.

86 posts and counting…love it!

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88
BlackIce 12:44 pm
09 Jan 13
#

carnardly said :

actually Ryoma, the only relevant law is that bikes must be fitted with an audible warning device. There is no law dictacting when, where or how it must be used.

As long as I have a device on my bike, I am legal. Legally I am also never required to even use it.

But for courtesy’s sake I do.

Actually you are legally required to in the ACT.

See ACT Road Rules Handbook Part E – Other Road Users
Under Cycle paths (page number 102) “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.”

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89
carnardly 1:05 pm
09 Jan 13
#

I saw a letter in the canberra times within the last fortnight that i wonder if it was from zan about this very topic. the “incident” wasn’t even discussed, warning or lack thereof wasn’t discussed, but just the fact that Zan went to task about the cyclist not having a bell on them.

I wonder if this post would’ve been started at all had the cyclist said “sure I have a bell. I didn’t want to ding you in case you thought i was being aggressive and expecting you to get out of my way or similar”.

Because regardless of the incident, or perhaps the lack of a warning, the issue would be dead in the water.

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90
Jivrashia 1:33 pm
09 Jan 13
#

Ryoma said :

When we visit Japan, Mrs Ryoma

Sakamoto, is that you?

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