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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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The No Bell Bicyclists
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Deckard 11:19 pm 05 Jan 13

drfelonious said :

Deckard I wonder were you in Tuggeranong at the time you encountered that self absorbed arrogant moron?

No, this was in Belconnen, Tuggeranong’s sister city in the north.

KB1971 9:10 pm 05 Jan 13

drfelonious said :

Deckard I wonder were you in Tuggeranong at the time you encountered that self absorbed arrogant moron?

I rarely ride in Tuggers but when I do I seem to encounter a disproportionate number of f tards insisting I ring my bell even when I go out of my way to go five metres away from them off the path on the grass. I have had a very similar encounter to the one you describe.

Never had any problems around my usual ride LBG though.

Really? You need to get out more often. There are more farktards walking the 5km of bridge to bridge than in one trip than I encounter on a years worth of commuting to and from Tuggeranong.

Typical north side snob.

drfelonious 9:35 am 05 Jan 13

Deckard I wonder were you in Tuggeranong at the time you encountered that self absorbed arrogant moron?

I rarely ride in Tuggers but when I do I seem to encounter a disproportionate number of f tards insisting I ring my bell even when I go out of my way to go five metres away from them off the path on the grass. I have had a very similar encounter to the one you describe.

Never had any problems around my usual ride LBG though.

Deckard 9:11 pm 04 Jan 13

KB1971 said :

Well, shoot me, I didn’t ring my bell once and we all got along this morning.

Not for me I’m afraid.

I passed a woman trying to walk her dog. Her dog was actually walking her, embarrassing given the size of it. Anyway, there was another couple walking their dog and we all met up at the same time. I decided the last thing everyone wanted was a cyclist dinging them to mix up the situation so I gave them a few metres and rode around on the grass. Must’ve given her a fright as that’s when I get the ‘Jesus, don’t you have a bell??’

I gave her the ‘whatever’ wave and muttered ‘f you’ under my breath.

Seriously, you can not win. Next time I’m going to ride up behind her and keep dinging until she gets the f out of my way…

KB1971 8:53 am 04 Jan 13

Well, shoot me, I didn’t ring my bell once and we all got along this morning.

Pork Hunt 7:39 pm 03 Jan 13

Aeek said :

Solidarity said :

Not having lights on your bike at night is illegal. Not having lights on yourself while walking at night is not. Just saying.

The bicycle light requirement is that the light clearly visible at 200m. No requirement to be able to see, say a non-reflective pedestrian at 1m. Just saying.

A non reflective as in black or a white person with nothing luminescent on their person?

Aeek 6:59 pm 03 Jan 13

Solidarity said :

Not having lights on your bike at night is illegal. Not having lights on yourself while walking at night is not. Just saying.

The bicycle light requirement is that the light clearly visible at 200m. No requirement to be able to see, say a non-reflective pedestrian at 1m. Just saying.

bikhet 4:48 pm 03 Jan 13

Felix the Cat said :

So you are bagging the cyclist for not having lights or reflective clothing but you aren’t lit up or have reflective clothing either. That makes you just as bad as each other.

a) How do you know that? There may have been other reasons schmeah wasn’t seen – for instance, reflective clothing needs light to reflect.

b) There is no legal requirement for pedestrians – or joggers – the have either lights or reflective clothing. There is such a requirement for cyclists to have lights.

Now it may be sensible for a pedestrian to have reflective, or a least light coloured, clothing, but they are not as bad as each other. One is committing a crime whereas the other is showing poor judgement,

Solidarity 4:45 pm 03 Jan 13

Not having lights on your bike at night is illegal. Not having lights on yourself while walking at night is not. Just saying.

Felix the Cat 12:27 pm 03 Jan 13

schmeah said :

I think people riding their bikes at night time without lights are a much bigger issue. I used to go jogging in Turner in the evening during the winter on the footpath and on a couple of occasions nearly got wiped out by students on bikes with no lights and no reflective gear. Typically international students who simply had no idea; they couldn’t see me and I couldn’t see them until they almost took me out .. and no, never heard a bell either.

Don’t even get me started on those I see riding on the road without lights ..

So you are bagging the cyclist for not having lights or reflective clothing but you aren’t lit up or have reflective clothing either. That makes you just as bad as each other.

Alderney 6:06 pm 30 Dec 12

Jono said :

Frustrated said :

I use a bike frequently and ridden the Canberra cyclewas for nigh on 4 decades now, but I don’t yell you ‘Bike’ and I use my bell.

The ones yelling out ‘bike’ are usually the wankers who feel the need to wear advertising lycra as they cycle. Posers!

I’ve been running on Canberra’s shared paths, not for 40 years, but for about 25, and I’ve never once had a cyclist call, “bike” to me. I do use it very occasionally when riding, but only to those who are clearly behaving erratically.

I repeat, if you’re hearing it often enough to get you so obviously upset, perhaps you need to have a think about how you are using the paths.

And there really needs to be a subclause of Godwin’s Law regarding discussions about cyclists and the word “lycra”. I don’t wear it (if you knew my body shape, you’d understand), but I can’t imagine being offended by those who do – that strikes me as being nothing short of bizarre.

I too have, on occasion, reverted to using a voice call such as ‘bike’ when cycling to/from work. Usually when I get no acknowledgement to the two or three dings of the bell and space is tight. If space is not tight I just give 2/3 dings and be done with it. If you don’t hear and get startled, that’s your bad luck.

For the record, I’ll give the first ding at about 30-40 metres, the second at about 20 and the third at about 10. This gives the walker a chance to gauge my closing distance/speed.

As stated, if the walker takes offense, that says more about them than me.

Jono 3:50 pm 30 Dec 12

Frustrated said :

I use a bike frequently and ridden the Canberra cyclewas for nigh on 4 decades now, but I don’t yell you ‘Bike’ and I use my bell.

The ones yelling out ‘bike’ are usually the wankers who feel the need to wear advertising lycra as they cycle. Posers!

I’ve been running on Canberra’s shared paths, not for 40 years, but for about 25, and I’ve never once had a cyclist call, “bike” to me. I do use it very occasionally when riding, but only to those who are clearly behaving erratically. I repeat, if you’re hearing it often enough to get you so obviously upset, perhaps you need to have a think about how you are using the paths.

And there really needs to be a subclause of Godwin’s Law regarding discussions about cyclists and the word “lycra”. I don’t wear it (if you knew my body shape, you’d understand), but I can’t imagine being offended by those who do – that strikes me as being nothing short of bizarre.

Frustrated 2:23 pm 30 Dec 12

Jono said :

Frustrated said :

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

Obviously written by somebody who’s never ridden a bike on a shared path. There are some pedestrians (typically, but not exclusively, those who walk two or three abreast across the path), who simply ignore the bell, and I have a particularly loud bell. But even they will generally respond to a call of “bike”. With every pedestrian that I approach I make a decision as to pass them without making a noise, ringing my bell as I approach, or giving them a call. It’s normally the ones who are behaving erratically or clearly without thought for others who I use the final one on.

If you’re hearing a “bike” call often, perhaps it’s more a comment on you than on the cyclists.

I use a bike frequently and ridden the Canberra cyclewas for nigh on 4 decades now, but I don’t yell you ‘Bike’ and I use my bell.

The ones yelling out ‘bike’ are usually the wankers who feel the need to wear advertising lycra as they cycle. Posers!

snoopydoc 12:05 pm 30 Dec 12

Frustrated said :

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.

No. You meant “their” way, and “because their bikes are NOT suitable to be ridden on grass.”

If you’re going to whinge, get it right. 🙂

Jono 9:14 am 30 Dec 12

Frustrated said :

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

Obviously written by somebody who’s never ridden a bike on a shared path. There are some pedestrians (typically, but not exclusively, those who walk two or three abreast across the path), who simply ignore the bell, and I have a particularly loud bell. But even they will generally respond to a call of “bike”. With every pedestrian that I approach I make a decision as to pass them without making a noise, ringing my bell as I approach, or giving them a call. It’s normally the ones who are behaving erratically or clearly without thought for others who I use the final one on. If you’re hearing a “bike” call often, perhaps it’s more a comment on you than on the cyclists.

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