Use your Bike Bell. Please.

OK. Before I start bitching, let me say that I am a bike rider too.

One of my big pet peeves are bike riders who do not use their bells to signal they are about to pass a pedestrian from behind.

This can occur on footpaths or shared spaces such as ‘cycle/walking’ paths. Bikes these days are fast, and quiet and you often are completely unaware that they are approaching.

Recently I was out walking with Kelly and Juno along a shared path up at Byron Bay. It was a spectacular day and there were plenty of people enjoying the morning coastal walk.
Anyways, whe were ambling along and chatting when without warning a cyclist flew past my right side startling us both and causing Juno to lurch forward on his lead. As he did so it threw the cyclists line off and he deviated wobbily from the path narrowly missing a signpost.

As I said up front, this is situation is a pet peeve of mine and so I yelled out “BELL!” at him.

The cyclist rode on a ways and then slowed, turned around and came back to have a few words. A short argument of gesticulating, chest puffing, and expletive throwing ensued.
He was beligerent and frothy.
I apologised up front for the fact that Juno had moved across onto the other half of the pathway, which he had.

But I also asserted that this would never had occured if he had simply slowed down and rang his bell as he approached. Then, I would have simply stepped off the path with Juno and given him plenty of space to pass. We could have exchanged pleasantaries and the day would have continued along in its spectacularness.

He would have none of it. The fault was mine. Stupid people with dogs out on the cycle paths.
He rode off at speed. A short way up the path he passed another family. I saw the elderly lady in the group physically flinch as he swept past her. His bell remained indignantly silent.

To be fair, MOST cyclists are not like this. They have a bell, they have brakes, and they are not afraid to use them.

Cyclists have their own concerns whilst riding including the increased number of people walking their dogs off lead, or making unpredictable movements across pathways whilst listening to music via headphones or checking social media on their smartphones.

On footpaths pedestrains have right of way.
Default speed limit for these spaces is 50kph, although most cyclist traveling at speed are probalby doing around 20-25kph –ABC News

–ABC News

But I have definately seen plenty of stealthy cylcists weaving around pedestrians at speed and at close quarters. I am sure there are many incidents of collisions and injury that simply go unreported.

With the increased use of electric bikes that can easily travel much faster the problem could get serious.

The Solution is Simple.

The solution is for cyclists to develop (by example) a culture of ringing their bell as they approach pedestrians from behind, and slowing down

The solution for pedestrians is to maintain awareness that they are sharing these spaces with faster moving cyclists and not to blinker that awareness with sensory distractions such as smartphones and music. And to keep their dogs under control.

Then a friendly “Good morning!” or “Beautiful afternoon isnt it?” as you pass and it is all good.

Attitude is everything.


  1. Is there a speed limit for bikes on footpaths? — ABC News.

4 responses to “Use your Bike Bell. Please.”

  1. Jacinta O'Connor Avatar
    Jacinta O’Connor

    Have a squiz at ‘Bicycle Rights’ – a comedy sketch from Portlandia.


  2. Agree Ian. Some laugh at my Bianchi with a bell, but it is there for exactly this purpose. People are generally so appreciative just to know that someone is coming up behind them. “Thanks” and “Have a lovely day” all round. What’s not to like? 🙂


  3. Agree totally Ian. But i get so frustrated as a runner too with most people having ipods in ears who cant hear bells or “runner coming” warnings.
    Everyone , as u say, should slow down and be polite and happy but bloody earphones cause more trouble and frustration on footpaths as well as rude grumpy hoggers .


    1. Thanks Amanda, totally agree with you!
      These things are SO distracting. I have even seen a cyclist riding along whilst sending a text message on his phone!


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