Isabell necessary on a bike – or not!

September 17, 2014 § 1 Comment


I’m confused – and all I know for certain is that headline’s not quite right but I wanted to make use of the old joke while I was on the subject of bicycle bells. I suppose what I’m really getting at is – why aren’t cyclists legally obliged to put a bell on their handlebars?

The reason for the interest is two-fold:

  • I live in Windsor where plenty of people cycle and one of them nearly rode into me the other day – he didn’t have a bell and I didn’t hear him coming;
  • I’m thinking of buying a bike so I’ve been doing a bit of research;

What I’ve found out so far is that bells are NOT required by law and are left up to the cyclist’s discretion. But – and I would suggest this a HUGE and ENORMOUS BUT – bells are absolutely a requirement at point of sale!!!  This seems crazy.

Mr and Mrs Bicycle Retailer have to make sure that every bike they sell is complete with bell so that it meets requirements set out by the British Standards Institute although Mr and Mrs Bicycle Owner can do what they like with it as soon as they’ve bought it.

I’ve looked at what a few cyclist bloggers say about bells – and it isn’t pleasant. Bells get bad press from the cycling community. One view is that bells sound rude and intrusive. You could say the same about car horns but if they allow someone to get out of the way and avoid collision, who cares! The cyclists who blog have a real passion for cycling – and almost certainly the confidence to use the road rather than ride on the pavement and it’s the pavement-type of cyclist that need the bell most.

  • The pavement is designed for pedestrians who are good at dodging other pedestrians but aren’t expecting and don’t always hear, bicycles: that’s the real intrusion having bikes on our pavements! (It’s also illegal to ride on pavements, my research has taught me.)
  • Cyclists who use pavements do so because they lack confidence and while that remains the case it makes very good sense – for them and anyone around – to have a warning system (bell).

In an era when more and more people are cycling and you can attach gadgets such a phone holder, heart rate monitor, speedometer, activity monitor to your handlebars – to name a few – there must be room for the humble bell. Whatever the law say, sense should prevail!


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