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Bike bell etiquette

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…


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43 Responses to Bike bell etiquette
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poptop poptop 9:18 am 06 Nov 08

I always liked the old card in the spokes approach. The thikka-thikka noise isn’t scary and nothing else really sounds the same.

Jim Jones Jim Jones 9:14 am 06 Nov 08

Slightly off topic, but does anyone know if the magpies have stopped swooping yet?

I stopped riding to work when I was getting done by 3-4 different magpies each way (… as the actress said to the bishop). There was one in particular that was really vicious, having a good go at taking a chunk out of my head next to a very busy stretch of road with cars whizzing past (and no bike path or alternative route around that area either).

Aeek Aeek 10:52 pm 05 Nov 08

That why I don’t ring at point blank after having rung multiple times without a twitch in response. Safer to slow down.

boneymaloney boneymaloney 10:41 pm 05 Nov 08

It used to be the fashion to yell out “BIKE” from behind. I always wanted to reply “PEDESTRIAN” as they were passing, but thought maybe the lycra-skinned gods would be cross with me 😛

Anyway, once upon a time I sounded my bell a bit late and braked hard to avoid a pedestrian who jumped into the *middle* of the right hand bike lane, sending me over the handlebars and breaking my leg in the process. So, I give a bit more notice these days.

Aeek Aeek 9:54 pm 05 Nov 08

Its the time of year for clueless cyclists, the warmer weather brings them out.
Riding home under Cotter Road, a guy coming the other way too fast nearly lost it in front of me. Lucky I’d slowed for traffic or he would have been crashing into me. Back to the roads for the Summer, its safer!

On bells, the standard size for modern handlebars is “oversized”. Most bells won’t fit.

The Jas The Jas 9:25 pm 05 Nov 08

bells, whistles wtf? You don’t need any of that crap, all you need to do is while your a good 10-20 metres back, is shout RIDER(S)loud enough so pedestrians can hear you without scaring the shit out of them.

I think bells are stupid personally and my bike is top end, so I would feel like a prat with a bell on it but each to it’s own I guess, I think they tend to scare people more often than not though.

I use bike paths more than ever now on my once a week coffee ride to re-live the glory days because I’m a) trying to get off the road to keep motorists happy and b) realise that eventually if you ride a bike as much as I have on the road/bike lanes, you will get hit at some stage and generally come off second best. Here I was thinking it’s the right thing to do, obviously not according to some. Seems the cyclists can never win.

Holierthanthou Holierthanthou 8:50 pm 05 Nov 08

My point is that I agree there are as many clueless pedestrians as there are reckless cyclists.

but oh so many more stupid motorists (in count and proportion)

fabforty fabforty 8:43 pm 05 Nov 08

I occasionally walk on a bike path near my work (on the rare occasions I drive to work). I always appreciate a “bell” from about 8m back. I then move off the path. I have also been “near missed” by cyclists wizzing by at high speed who seem to think I should somehow sense their impending presence. I have also seen some pedestrians refuse to budge from what they believe is the “footpath”.
More frequently, I walk about two blocks from the bus interchange to my work, across Northbourne Ave. Yesterday I was at traffic lights and reached out (less than my arms length) to press the black button. My arm connected with a cyclist at speed trying to push his way between me and the pedestrain button (and busy Northbourne Ave)at speed. He yelled some obscenity and I replied by telling him to get the *&$k off the footpath. It was a really nice morning.

My point is that I agree there are as many clueless pedestrians as there are reckless cyclists. We need to cut each other a bit of slack. If I promise to move off the cycle path, I would really appreciate as much notice as possible that cyclists are approaching.

Holierthanthou Holierthanthou 7:34 pm 05 Nov 08

I ring at about -8s (loud) and then at -2s (softly) if no eye contact was made. Never had a single problem.

Motorists do the same to me, first they give a nice blart of the horn, again as they pass and then they give some nice advice on where I put my bike when I get off it. Also they offer directions by using some hand signals.

niftydog niftydog 5:49 pm 05 Nov 08

harley said :

By your reasoning this must mean it’s OK for car drivers to honk at cyclists, then abuse or buzz them for not getting out of the way…

Sounds like an average afternoon riding up Belconnen Way to me.

frontrow frontrow 5:12 pm 05 Nov 08

Harley, I don’t understand the rationale behind basing responsibility for right of way between pedestrians and motorists on velocity.

When I am a pedestrian amongst motor vehicles, I’m happy to take all the responsibility for right of way decisions based on my predictions of what will happen if it all goes pear shaped. The law is only so much protection against a tonne of flying steel.

emmy-lou emmy-lou 5:11 pm 05 Nov 08

Was walking across a foot bridge in Belco today, talking to friends and absent mindedly walking on the right of the path. I got a ding from about 5 metres back, which wasn’t too loud so I didn’t jump out of my skin. I moved to the side and the cyclist said thank you as she went past. I’m just glad she didn’t get grumpy at me for hogging the path!

Woody Mann-Caruso Woody Mann-Caruso 4:38 pm 05 Nov 08

Was always a pleasure walking / cycling on shared paths in the US. Pedestrians walk on the left, cyclists ride on the right. As a cyclist approaches a pedestrian they call out (not too loudly): “On your right.” The pedestrian moves to the left a little, the cyclist rides past with a “thank you!”, everybody is happy. If pedestrians see a bike coming the other way, they simply step off the path to the left so cyclists don’t have to duck and weave (and potentially collide).

deye deye 4:01 pm 05 Nov 08

Ah, dogs on leashes. Not so much help when owner is on one side of the path and the dog on the other.

blueberry blueberry 3:56 pm 05 Nov 08

deye, The whistle is a great idea, i had never thought of that though my whistle is not that loud. I had been contemplating working out a way to attach a cycle bell to the side of my skate though.

Oh and for those that are getting on the back of the cyclists about the use of the paths do remember that we actually have paths in Canberra that are called Shared Paths these are different to a normal road side foot path and have specific rules stating their use :

Shared path

(Mostly black bitumen often marked with white centre lines)

The use of shared paths is restricted to non-motorised transport (with the exception of motorised wheelchairs and power assisted pedal cycles). Both pedestrians and cyclists must share the use of these paths. Please respect all users and be prepared to give way to cyclists and pedestrians as necessary. When cycling, warn of your approach by sounding your bell; if you are cycling or walking, keep to the left. Cyclists should pass pedestrians on the right. Cyclists should give way to pedestrians and other users at all times. If you are a pedestrian, keep a look out for cyclists and give them room to pass. Dogs must be on a leash at all times.

http://www.tams.act.gov.au/move/cycling/cycling_and_walking_map/road_rules

Granny Granny 3:16 pm 05 Nov 08

aronde said :

The bike bell is all powerful – in Japan at least!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtv2_-2mHck

How funny! It would work on me, too, I just know!! I’m going to have to get myself a bike bell, but I sure hope nobody hits me ….

harley harley 3:05 pm 05 Nov 08

On shared paths bikes are to peds as cars are to bikes on roads. By your reasoning this must mean it’s OK for car drivers to honk at cyclists, then abuse or buzz them for not getting out of the way…

The obligation to avoid is on the fast mover, not the obstacle…

I knew I could bait someone today…

Jim Jones Jim Jones 2:30 pm 05 Nov 08

harley said :

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

I used to let pedestrians know I was passing by ringing my bell or (in IPod situations) shouting ‘Excuse me’.

After that comment, I think I’ll stop doing that and just start stabbing them without warning.

niftydog niftydog 2:04 pm 05 Nov 08

harley said :

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

WTF? Where did this come from? Nobody here is suggesting anything like that at all. We all seem to agree that sharing is what it’s all about. My mention of “buzzing” was in reference to people who refuse to share!

astrojax astrojax 1:51 pm 05 Nov 08

i’m with danman on this, and all those above who ding to let pedestrians know i’m coming – but when there is an obvious right lane and the ped. is obviously content in the left lane, i pass with due caution and try not to alert and alarm unduly. i have an i-pod on as i ride, mostly, but can and do listen for ambient noise. and for those sans bell, a call ‘coming on your right’ or similar works well…

what peeves me is the pedestrians in pairs who, when you ding, one goes left and one jumps right, into your path. do these people drive like that? isn’t the ‘veer left’ mentality just a habit in this country??

and i always smile and acknowledge when people move for me, and do so when a pedestrian on the paths. wish there was more politeness in the world, but alack…

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