Don’t forget to ring!

08 Dec 22 | By pp-admin

Ring, ring, ring… is that the sound of jingle bells? No, it’s the sound of a well-mannered person on a bike letting someone on a bike path know that a cyclist is about to pass them on their right.

You might be surprised to find that one of the most frequent enquiries and comments Pedal Power receives is on the topic of bike bells:  too loud, not loud enough, used too often, not used enough, used too late, bikes without bells at all.  It’s a topic that generates some passion!

Our shared bike paths are one of Canberra’s greatest assets, “shared” being the operative word.  Many of us find ourselves out on the paths not just as cyclists, but as pedestrians and dog walkers, as runners, as grandparents or parents of children getting to and from school.  With the ubiquitous use of earbuds and headphones, many users of cycle paths are oblivious of other users behind them.  And, even without this impediment, hearing difficulties or other noises may leave other path users quite unaware of a cyclist approaching.

It is actually a legal requirement that you “must not ride a bicycle that does not have … a bell, horn or similar warning device, in working order”.  Our ACT Road Rules go on to say that when approaching pedestrians from behind on a cycle path, you should “ring your bell to let them know you are coming, slow down as you pass and give them right of way”.

But having a bell on your bike, and using it effectively are two different things.  As you enjoy your rides this summer, be the better cyclist and:

  • Check your bell is working before you start your ride
  • Ring your bell early to give the path user time to register your presence without unnecessarily startling them at the last moment. Remember you are moving faster than them and they might be totally unaware you are there
  • Ring your bell a second – and even a third – time in noisy locations to make sure your presence is known
  • Ride to the conditions: slow down if the path is crowded or if there’s a group in front of you that might move both to the left and right as you approach. And ring your bell again!

Enjoy your ride, knowing others can enjoy their use of shared paths too!