Within 60 years of the first patent for a bicycle, the bicycle bell was also patented. Since 1877 the humble bike bell has been an effective piece of cycling safety equipment. Until fairly recently, a bike bell was on most every bicycle. The ring of the bell meant that a cyclist was approaching and/or wanted to pass. For reasons unknown, the bike bell fell out of favor, at least here in the United States. However, bells are regaining popularity, mostly because of the crazy fun designs that are available on the market these days. Make no doubt about it, today’s bike bells are not the bells from your grandparent’s generation.
Bike Bells Are Fun
The bike bell is fabulous bling for your bike! They are an inexpensive way to add style and pizzazz to your ride. With every imaginable size, color, and finish, they can serve as wonderfully artistic expressions of a cyclist’s personality. Without a doubt, there is a bike bell for every rider and every bicycle there is!
Bike Bells Are Effective
Most bike paths these days are what are termed “multi-use trails” or “shared-use paths”. This means that you are sharing the path with not only other bike riders, but with pedestrians as well. If you’ve ridden much, you know the standard protocol of announcing “on your left” sometimes has no effect at all. To be heard, you have to be right up on the person you are wanting to pass. More often then not, this method leaves the person on foot frightened and confused about where to go. This is where the bike bell shines. The sound of a bell carries much better than the human voice. It produces a non-threatening sound. And it has the added bonus of being understood in almost every language!
Bike Bells Are The Law In Some States
In many areas, bike bells are the law. They are mandatory equipment just like lights if you ride at night, and properly working brakes. Washington DC and the state of New York and are two such places in the United States that require riders to have bells on their bicycles. In all states, bikes are considered moving vehicles, subject to the same laws as automobiles. This means they must be able to communicate their presence to other vehicles, and they must yield to pedestrians. Even when not required by law, every safety minded cyclist should have a bell on their bike.
Using A Bike Bell Is Good Riding Etiquette
Because cyclists share the paths with pedestrians moving at much slower speeds, they often get a bad rap for being inconsiderate and rude. Shouting “passing on your left!” or even worse, giving no warning at all often leaves pedestrians feeling annoyed, confused and even frightened at times. The mulit-use paths I ride are a mixed bag of cyclists, runners, people out walking their dogs, and families with toddlers and children riding bikes on training wheels. It can be a crazy whirlwind of activity. It can be an accident waiting to happen without effective communication. A bike bell produces a cheerful, happy sound that lets others know you are there and that you’d like to pass. It should come as no surprise that the sound produces cheerful, happy responses out of people. For that reason alone, bells should be standard equipment on all bikes.
The bike bell is an low-cost, functional and wonderfully fun piece of equipment! It provides a pleasant and effective way of announcing your presence to other cyclists, pedestrians and even cars. In addition to making your ride safer, a bell is a fantastic way to personalize your bike – to make your ride your own.
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