Why bicycle bell is not a good idea?

by chuwa on April 21, 2011

bicycle bell

bicycle bell

I removed the bell from my bicycle, because it doesn’t make my cycling safer. In fact having the bell tend to create irritation rather than helps.

One the road bicycle bell is useless. Drivers enjoying their car stereo can not hear you anyway. On the pavement, conventional wisdom says that you need a bell to warn others that you are approaching, to give them time to react and give way.

My question is; why should these people give way to the cyclist? After all the cyclist is cycling from behind and he is in a much better position to take action to avoid any collision – worst come to the worst, he can simply slow down, wait until there is room enough to pass without disturbing the others. Everyone will be safe. This is just common sense, not rocket science. In fact, as suggested by my friend Theodore who advocate gracious community, I usually say “Thanks you” or “Good morning” as I pass pedestrians. It cost nothing and it makes sharing of the space so much more pleasant for all.

Even when it is not on pavement, e.g. in car park or in the park, the same logic should apply- the faster person is in better control of the situation and therefore should be responsible to ensure the safety of others.

If you are still not convinced, let’s see from the other side of the coin:
Have you ever been rang by bicycle bell from behind while walking on the pavement? How did you feel about it? What did you do when that happen?

I don’t know about you, but I would feel irritated and depends on the day, I may be so agitated that I will confront the challenging cyclist, or to file a police report! I don’t care whether it is out of good intention or not, to me this is an violation to my walking right. Firstly pedestrian pavement is for pedestrian, cyclist should have no right to use it. Secondly, if cyclist need to use the pavement (e.g. avoid dangerous traffic) they must give full respect to the pedestrian, who are slower and more vulnerably and also have less control of the situation. A cyclist can go much faster than pedestrian, yet can slow down to the same speed as a pedestrian. The one who is in better control is the cyclist! If cyclists does not initiate any danger, there will be no danger on the pavement!

Removing the bell makes it impossible for the cyclist to “threaten” pedestrian, and he must slow down when there is someone walking slowly in front. This will make cycling in Singapore much more gracious and safe.

Following the same logic, I think roads will be safer for everyone, if horns are removed from all the cars. What do you think?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

sehsuan April 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm

very true indeed. i’d rather cycle my bike on grass and totally avoid the pedestrians. there was once this foreign labourer was going DRING DRING DRING! behind me when i least expected it… i actually wanted to kick out his front wheel and send him sprawling. that day, i was carrying an exceptionally heavy load of 2 SLR cameras and at least 3 lenses, not forgetting too that i carried the chargers as well BY HAND.

these are the blokes shaming cyclists!


chuwa April 28, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Thanks Sehsuan.
The picture is more complete if we can put ourselves (cyclist) into other’s shoes (e.g. pedestrian).


Henry April 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm

I use that to alert cylists who are in group cycling in opposite directions and pays no attention to what is ahead of them. If one aptry is at a higher pace than walking can cause serious damage, what about the impact to two cyclists colliding ? MY BELL STAYS FOR GOOD to protect myself and others !


chuwa April 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Thank you Henry,
I agree a bell can be very useful in the situation as you mention. I only feel, even in such situation, there are safe solution as least for yourselves :
– e.g. since you can anticipate the danger (that why you ring the bell to pre-warn), why not simple move away from this group of cyclist?
I am not saying they have the right though.


Henry April 28, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Have you seen cyclists looking down at floor or friends while talking to them and occupying the whole width of the cycling path ? This happened so many times on cycle path. If only there’s path to avoid , else trun bike around and cycle in the same direction ? Think the bell is the only solution esle it’ll be too late !


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