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Old 10-24-05, 02:16 PM   #1
Karst
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Bells required on all bikes in SC

In SC, you have to have a bell on the bike. Really. Below is the applicable law; after it, several questions.

SC laws:

"Section 56-5-3480. Bell or like device on bicycle. No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least one hundred feet, except that a bicycle shall not be equipped with nor shall any person use upon a bicycle any siren or whistle, except as provided in Section 56-5-3515."

("An authorized police patrol bicycle may be equipped with a siren or the officer may utilize a whistle in the performance of his duties, or both." from Section 56-5-3515)

Questions:

(1) Has anyone ever encountered the bell part of the law being enforced?

(2) Is this found in any other state, and if so, is it enforced?

(3) Does "equipped with" mean that it has to be attached to the bike? Or can I put it in my bike bag---which is what I did shortly after finding out about the law (I got the bell off an old tricycle of my kids', a trike that is inoperable)?

If I get in an accident, it is obviously best to have a totally legal bike, which I have, except for the issue of bells, assuming the bell must be physically mounted. So I guess I'm going to have to figure out how to mount a bell. I have a hybrid---a KHS Flite 200---equipped with front light and computer on the handlebars, so there really isn't much space to mount a bell on the bars. Maybe I'll put it somewhere else.

Any comments?

I'm a new commuter cyclist, doing 3.3 mi to and also from work and want to be as safe as possible and legal too.
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Old 10-24-05, 02:24 PM   #2
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It's like that in Richmond too...must have a bell and brakes ale to make the wheel skid on dry pavement. Brakes are overated.
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Old 10-24-05, 02:27 PM   #3
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Bah, i said that first(was signed on to gf's name)
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Old 10-24-05, 02:48 PM   #4
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Its a BS law, kind of.

If you ride on MUPs and sidewalks a bell is essential and should just about be legally required. (A bell is in my opinion the best for peds, universally recognized as the 'bike sound' whereas voice commands often cause confusion.)

But if you ride on the street and stay away from the curb edge and always give right of way to x-walk using peds, then a bell is not so useful, but a loud horn can be as you want to get motor vehicle attention. But the law says no siren or whistle.

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Old 10-24-05, 03:13 PM   #5
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It's a BS law until some cop doesn't like seven bicycles showing up at the same place without a parade permit and decides to start citing people for BS things, or decides you look like a pothead and wants to search your bag but needs a citation to make a traffic stop -- yes, true story. Troy, NY, sometime in the late 90s.
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Old 10-24-05, 03:30 PM   #6
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I have a bell, and use it. It has saved my ass many times by getting the attention of motorists who are not paying attention and fixing to pull out in front of me. It's amazing how that little bell can be heard inside cars with the windows rolled up, but when I ring it, I can see the heads turn.

On MUP's it's essential, unless you want to do a lot of yelling, and as another poster noted, voice warnings are confusing.

The bell is also fun to ring at wanna-be serious roadies when I pass them on a climb on my recumbent.
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Old 10-24-05, 03:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lws
It's a BS law until some cop doesn't like seven bicycles showing up at the same place without a parade permit and decides to start citing people for BS things, or decides you look like a pothead and wants to search your bag but needs a citation to make a traffic stop
Yep.
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Old 10-24-05, 03:41 PM   #8
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A horn should qualify, as should your voice, providing you aren't mute.
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Old 10-24-05, 03:43 PM   #9
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Bells are also "required" in NJ. I'm definitely thinking of getting one for my commuter and one for my road bike. Bikes (at least well maintained ones) are almost silent and a bells are a nice warning to pedestrians.
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Old 10-24-05, 04:54 PM   #10
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I'll have to ask him. It seems my LBS mech had a device which sounded like an air horn from a truck.
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Old 10-24-05, 05:24 PM   #11
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Oregon law simply says "an audible signal must be given when passing a pedestrian" on a MUP, or some such, and sirens and whistles are prohibited.
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Old 10-24-05, 05:42 PM   #12
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How much seatpost is exposed on your bike? Could you possibly put one of these on your seatpost just above the seat tube clamp? If it fit, and you put it facing forward, they couldn't say you couldn't operate it. You could also put it on there facing backwards. It's small, so you shouldn't hit it while pedaling.
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Old 10-24-05, 06:30 PM   #13
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Bells are also required in Indiana, BUT I don't have one. Why? Because cops aren't stupid...well most of them aren't! They know just as I do that no driver in a car is going to hear a bell considering that most drivers don't even hear the sirens of an emergency vehicle, so how in the world are they ever going to hear a little ding ding from a bell? Oh, maybe not a car you say but possibly a pedistrian might hear it; it would be way faster and louder to yell at the person then to activate a bell to warn a person. It's for those reasons that most police agencies do not inforce the bell law.
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Old 10-24-05, 06:33 PM   #14
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Case law in SC allows your voice to be an other sounding device. It's not like bells work anyway. People just stop to look at you instead of getting out of the way.
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Old 10-24-05, 08:13 PM   #15
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Our city has a bell ordinance. The officers just laugh whenever I ask them about it.
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Old 10-24-05, 08:21 PM   #16
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Cops have better things to do than check bikes for bells. MMM, donuts.
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Old 10-24-05, 08:35 PM   #17
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meh, i've never heard of it being enforced.
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Old 10-24-05, 08:36 PM   #18
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I don't need a bell when I'm riding, I just pass gas.
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Old 10-24-05, 09:25 PM   #19
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Bells are inoffensive warning devices to wake up pedestrians on MUPs. If you have barends they can be mounted there. If you have drop bars, you can mount one on the end of the drop and operate with your pinkie. A whistle is the best warning device for cars.
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Old 10-25-05, 04:42 AM   #20
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Bells are required in Michigan. I have one but took it off after a year or so. I never ride in a situation where I can imagine it doing any good. I'm always either in traffic that's going 20+MPH faster than me, or stopped at a light.
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Old 10-25-05, 04:50 AM   #21
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Theoretically bells are required on bikes in the UK. I've never seen it enforced but suspect that it may become an additional measure used by the police at the upcoming newly criminalised Critical Mass.
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Old 10-25-05, 06:21 AM   #22
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My Trek came with a bell It's a sweet looking little thing and the tone is pleasing. LOL But if it hadn't come installed, I can't say as I fork out the coin to get one. Not when there's a need for gloves (it was COLD this am), etc.
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Old 10-25-05, 09:30 AM   #23
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Fog horn in a can better than any bell ....

I use to carry one when there was a few stray dogs that would give chas in a dangerous manner. Had one try to bite me gave him a blast right in the face he turned tail and ran realy fast.
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Old 10-26-05, 01:02 AM   #24
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Bells are required here, too. No one knew this but me. Even the LBS had no idea.

I have one on my utility bike just so John Law can't cite me (and make me walk) for not having one.
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Old 10-29-05, 03:05 PM   #25
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I don't know if bells are required on bicycles here in Maine.

My bicycle isn't equipped with one.

Instead, I have a hand-held air horn which I have strapped to the handlebars with strong elastic bands. It is much better than a bell in that the sound it emits is much louder and has worked in alerting everyday motorists, truckers, and even scares dogs away. Although it needs replacing every now and then, it's well worth the price. I keep a spare one in my panier.
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