open topic, for anything cycling related.
As a regular commuter and user of shared paths, I’ve been following the discussion on bell use in the ‘dumb cyclist and pedestrian’ thread with some interest. In deference to the request to keep that thread on topic, I’ll offer my two’pennth here.
For the past few weeks, I’ve become a pedestrian myself, due to a persistent ITB problem (Grrr…). The shoe is on the other foot, so to speak, as I am now the pedestrian being passed by the many bikes that commute through the area. As a cyclist (albeit a wounded one..), I am very aware of bikes, keep to the left and check behind before changing course. Even so, I get surprised every now and again by a bike that wizzes past without warning. For those who do warn, my experience is that the ding of a bell is MUCH easier to distinguish than a voice, which is easily lost amid all the other sounds in the park. Perfect example of this last night, heard the word, ‘right’, just before a cyclist rode past. I know what ‘passing on the right’, means, yet the bike was already past me before I realised that what I had heard was a fragment of the phrase.
If you believe that offering a warning when passing is a good idea, I can vouch from first-hand experience that using a bell is much more effective than calling out.
I personally don't believe that a warning is necessary on every passing. Personally I find bell ring kinda rude. I find that the need for ringing is a little silly, it isn't like we need to honk the horn for every car or cyclist we past.
A bell is a useful accessory on a bike. So is a mirror. I don't actually have either on my bikes....
"Passing on the right" is fine in a bunch of cyclists where the overtaking speed difference is usually fairly small, and it is a warning immediately before passing. I would never use it with pedestrians.
Your bell is a warning device that should be used well before you reach the pedestrian, not just as you go by. Pedestrians should have time to (if they wish) turn and look behind to check what and where you are. Many cyclists do not appreciate this and ding their bell just before they pass/collide with the pedestrian.
Ringing your bell is not rude - pedestrians recognise it, and appreciate it. The only good alternative that I have used (quite effectively) is to whistle a tune inanely while I ride. Pedestrians hear this ahead of time and can judge my approach from it. There is no voice so no tone of expression involved.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
I am soon to go to Italy on a cycle-touring holiday. I believe this is the norm over there. I shall soon find out.
I'm now a pedestrian too - albeit a very slow moving one.
Just give me warning you are passing (not with a blast of the air-zound) and I'll be happy. I check before changing direction. And by checking, I'll move off the left side of the path if I can, getting completely out of the way.
Again, it comes down to consideration. If I can't clear a pedestrian by at least a metre, I'll ring the bell and slow down to near walking pace as I approach. It's not perfect, but I try to go slower the closer I have to get to pass them.
Apparently some of us seem to think it's acceptable to ring your bell like a fire engine while doing 35kph along heavily foot-trafficked areas like Southbank. Well, it isn't. You need to shut up and slow down. You're not that important. You're embarrassing yourself and giving us all a bad name.
+1. The bell sounds instantly means "bike" - everyone recognises it. That's the problem with electronic beeping bike bells; people don't recognise the sound.
...adding, the advantage of the AirZound blast on the roads is that drivers think there is a semi-trailer or freight train that they didn't see.
A lot of pedestrians do think it's rude and yell at your for using it. I stopped ringing my bell ages ago (except for when needed such as people completely blocking paths or coming up to a completely blind corner) mostly due to the unpredictable reaction you get from pedestrians and partly because most of them can't hear it anyway because their ipod is too loud.
I usually try to both - bell ring first approx 20m followed by a "bike approaching" then when closer "bike passing right (or left)". The good part of the bell ring is that it takes one hand off the bars which usually means I slow down the pedalling. When I ride there are alot of kids heading to school in the morning - with this it is alway slow right down and then ring or not depending on what I think they will do. Young kids (10 y.o. or below) have jumped out in front of me when I ring or speak so sometimes I think it is safer just to pass slowly if there is room without ringing my bell or speaking.
Most the time this works and most peds turn their heads a smile or say thanks too.
If the ped makes it easy for me to pass (either by doing nothing or moving over) I try to say thanks just as I have passed. For me the key is for all of us to get safely where ever we are headed.
Not fast, no style, but still get there.
In many Asian countries it is customary and polite to give a beep beep when passing especially out of the city areas.
Back on topic: Personally I have found that half the time peds will jump across the path into my anticipated line when I ring the bell so I don't do it if there is a clear line around them. Also that's if they have even heard the bell, as often they are listening to their music with ear buds.
I ding 100 percent of the time. It takes no effort and often elicts a wave, a "thanks" or a smile. Only once in the past five or six years has anyone told me I startled them. I do wonder at times though why, when I ring the bell to pass on the right, some peds look over their LEFT shoulder. Doesn't make sense.
Too heavy to climb, too old to sprint.
Roger Ramjet: 2009 Giant CRX3
Lady Penelope: 2011 Avanti Cadent 1.0 TdF
I ding the bell several times from a long way back, almost on the limit of them being able to hear it, and I keep doing it as I approach them until they give me a clear indication that they've heard me, whether it's a look over the shoulder, a purposeful movement to one side of the path, a nod, a low wave, and then give them a wide berth and say thank you as I pass them at full speed. The earlier you can let them know you're coming the better. If they don't acknowledge the bell (e.g. dreaming, listening to music, chatting to someone) you really have no option for both your and their safety but to slow right down and pass them at a responsible speed. Sometimes pedestrians can be frustrating but shared paths are not there for time trials, and as a cyclist on a fast moving machine you are the one that can seriously injure someone and you need to take care.
Don't know where you are riding or what sort of bell you ring, but that has never been my experience. OTOH there have been some occasions where I or companions, having called "passing", have received displeased comments.
I agree with il padrone. I ride on shared paths a lot and I ding my bell for everyone I pass and I've never had anyone get upset or say anything bad to me.
Well, people react differently in different areas. I know in my area, some people just hate people riding bikes and will complain about ringing bells, not ringing them, you name it. Sometimes the same person will react differently on different days. And it's usually the same pedestrians I used to see every day. There were a few who'd tell you to stick your bell somewhere else..
The exceptions were usually the runners - the ones who go long distances and really go fast. They always seemed to be really at ease and not bothered at all about bikes going past. They always seemed to be the ones who'd acknowledge or give a friendly wave. Perhaps it's some sort of unofficial fitness club sort of thing.
A vote for "not" here. If I can just pass safely, defo not 'cause that'd be rude. I have seen the bellping seemingly used as shorthand for GEDDODUAMYWAYNOTSLOWINGCHASINGPBRIGHTHERESUCKAH, which irritates me no end. As a prophylactic for slowing down it doubly sucks. It doesn't much impress me as a friendly greeting either. "Hello" generally works there. The nice thing about using my voice is that I can change it to suit the situation.
I vote no and generally try to avoid giving any warning at all. The reason for this is that 99% of the time it just puts me into danger. The pedestrian either jumps in front of me or whines that they dis not hear it. Easier to just slip past before they notice.
Veni, Vidi, Vespa -- I Came, I Saw, I Rode Home
Don't ding, don't call out, just ride at your strava beating speed along SHARED pathways, try to miss the pedestrian by less than 10mm & scare the daylights out of them, then there won't be any problems.
Bicycles will be banned from shared pathways, then the joggers, walkers, day dreams will be rid of those rude cyclists that think it's their personal racetrack.
Easy as, problem solved.
Edit: Forgot to mention earlier, remember that the pedestrian you flash past mere millimetres away from is possible a car driver, they'll get their revenge on the road at a later time.
Last edited by Wal42 on Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
As previously mentioned, I ring for all passing, though haven't passed a pedestrian in the last 6 years so haven't had much practice of late.
But if I did pass one, I would give a "ding, ding", except the bell is missing from my bikes.
Ding people! I do when on shared cycle ways!
Closest I come to pedestrians is along Southbank and am amazed at the cyclists that think it is stage win sprint to the lights at Queens Street? But I have digressed here.
Ding, Ding to all those pedestrians out there!
There's a way to ding without sounding rude. If you come wapping up behind someone and start dinging insistently at the last moment then of course they're going to be upset. If you do a friendly double ding from a distance and give them enough time to react and prepare predictably for you coming it's an entirely different vibe. Not dinging at all scares the crap out of pedestrians. Even if they don't seem to react I guarantee that they will be jumping with shock inside as you go past. For goodness sake have some manners.
What arkle said. It's right.
I can't ever seem to win....
There is a local share path near where I live that I regularly use - I used to have a bell and ding it when approaching pedestrians, but I got a few comments from people who thought I was being rude/pushy (or perhaps they were in a daze and I just took the by surprise).
I then reverted to the 'excuse me.....thankyou' approach - I would slow to near walking pace and simply say 'excuse me' to pedestrians....then thank them as I passed. But then a few times people have said 'where's your bell?' - including some quite rude people.
I honestly don't think that there is a right way/wrong way, as long as you are doing your best to be polite.
I've stuck to the 'excuse me' method, and most people simply say sorry for blocking the path/move over/whatever....some people would whinge at anything so I don't take it to heart if I get the odd complaint - I know I've done the right thing and tried to be as polite and respectful as possible.
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