When Saffi was still with us (see About) I did a lot of walking and had a fairly low opinion of bikes that would come flying past with no warning, leaving me with nothing but a racing pulse and the aroma of their sweat. Nice.
I couldn’t understand why they didn’t use their bell. Every bike has one and it’s not going to rival an iPhone in the high-tech stakes is it? I mean, come on, how difficult could it be? Well very apparently, for a lot of cyclists.
Do you want to risk an accident? Do you want people to think you’re an arrogant fool? Or do you really think you’re that special? I’m guessing the answer is “no” to all three questions. So USE YOUR BELL!
But, like everything, it’s not what you’ve got, its how you use it.
Actually, that’s not quite true. There’s a lot of bells to choose from and I’ve found that some are quite quiet and some are a lot louder. Check this out:
It calls itself loud and will currently cost you £3.11 from Tredz. Not exactly a kings ransom is it? And if it saves you from a crash (either with a person or something inanimate after swerving to avoid a person) then surely you’d agree it’s a bargain.
So back to how to use the bell. You’d think it’d be a quick ping and that’s it. Not a chance. This is where you have to take a breath, look around, and realise your place in the scheme of things. As I’ve said, you’re not the only person on the trail/path and using your bell as a weapon to send the message “Grrrr. Get out of my bloody way” is not going to be the most productive approach.
Use it as a warning aid. I ring my bell a couple or three times in plenty of time for any pedestrian to move to one side or another or, as some people do, give you a thumbs up to indicate they’ve heard you and you’re free to pass without scaring the pants off them. If I’m not sure they’ve heard, then I slow down and ping again. As long as they’re not weaving like a drunk then I’ll pass by whilst giving as much space as possible.
Then everyone is as safe and comfortable as they can be.
And don’t forget to be polite! If people move out of the way, they have done something for you so remember what your mother told you and say “Thank You.” Good manners cost nothing!
Lastly, it sets a good example to people with young kids out on their bikes to give them a ding, a wave and a “Thank you.” That way you can feel smug about showing the next generation how to behave!
Let me reiterate one more time: Use your bell. There is no reason not to and it makes you a better and nicer cyclist.
OK, so far so pro-pedestrian. Yes, cyclists can be inconsiderate rude sods. I see enough of them when I’m out on my bike. It always makes me shake my head. But this is where we move on to the other side of the coin.
For god’s sake would you pedestrians, would you please keep your eyes and ears open! I cannot tell you how many times I cycle towards couples or groups and they simply don’t register your presence. I mean, how engrossed in a conversation do you have to be not to realise that there is a big bloke on a big bike coming at you with his bell ringing away? Or putting yourself into your own world with headphones so that you’re oblivious to your surroundings?
It seems that some people on foot believe that they can yield all personal responsibility for their own safety. I wouldn’t say they deserve all they get but….. If you hear a bell, move out of the way: it’s safest for everyone. Its not rocket science either.
In summary people, try to get along and realise that whether you’re a cyclist or a pedestrian, you’re both as entitled to be there as each other. There’s enough conflict in life: you’ve made the effort to go out and enjoy yourself so make sure you do.
Sermon over. At least on the subject of bells.
Now for the music. What a choice this week: an artist to give a great link to the subject or another disco classic with a slightly more obscure reference. Which to choose? Tell you what, have both.
It’s my turn to dish out a Brucie bonus. Enjoy