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Are bicycle bells basically useless ?

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Are bicycle bells basically useless ?

Old 01-25-17, 10:24 AM
  #1  
pakeboi
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Are bicycle bells basically useless ?

... was so excited when I finally bought a bell the other day , a Crane E-ne , after biking so long without one .
so the first time I needed to use it , the pedestrian in my way was wearing earphones and didn't hear me , and the second time used was at a busy intersection , and also wasn't heard .
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Old 01-25-17, 10:25 AM
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Old 01-25-17, 10:31 AM
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They're BELLS, not fire truck sirens or miracles. They do help in low speed conditions like you might have on an MUP, but the sound doesn't carry that far, and won't help when riding at decent speed.

That said, I have a bell on my commuter and use it from time to time, but don't have one on any of my other bikes.
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Old 01-25-17, 10:46 AM
  #4  
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My bell has served me well multiple times when I have been on pathways shared by pedestrians and bikes.
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Old 01-25-17, 10:53 AM
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myrricle grip bell Incredibell Grip Bell ? Mirrycle Corporation is on the left,

R'off grip-shift-er on right.

the wearing a full fingered glove does Make it more difficult to not mute the tone..

though here on the quiet riverside MUP, the plink was enough to alert dog walkers to bring their dogs to heel
rather than have the leash across the path..




....

Last edited by fietsbob; 01-25-17 at 10:58 AM.
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Old 01-25-17, 10:57 AM
  #6  
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Like everything, sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.

Some of my bikes have them, some don't. I find pedestrians react much more predictably to them than me announcing my presence with any sort of voice command. As bars get retaped and controls reconfigured, they'll probably get added to most of my bikes (I like tucking mine right up next to the hoods on drop bikes). I also find my traditional two-ding Incredibell models work better than the fiancees old-school telephone type ringing.
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Old 01-25-17, 11:01 AM
  #7  
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Bells work fine to alert pedestrians or other cyclists, if they are the types of persons who listen for bells and respond appropriately.
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Old 01-25-17, 11:06 AM
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Not useless. Though I don't use one, my wife uses hers all the time. Basically saves the effort calling out "on your left" when passing slow riders or pedestrians on a crowded MUP.
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Old 01-25-17, 11:06 AM
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I can't remember the last time I used my car horn. Should I expect to use my bicycle bell MORE often than I would use a car horn. Like the OP... I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with bicycle bells. I really like the idea of using the bicycle bell... but I don't find them particularly useful either.
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Old 01-25-17, 11:10 AM
  #10  
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I like em. If for no other reason than saying hi to another cyclist.
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Old 01-25-17, 11:12 AM
  #11  
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I've used mine plenty, both on a MUP and on quiet city streets in the morning when I'm out doing my morning ride. There are plenty of morning walkers who I used to surprise when I came up behind them, until I got the bell to alert them of my presence. A few of them have even thanked me for the heads up. So I will continue to use it.

But yes, it is a bell and not a car horn or fire truck siren. It has limited volume, but in my particular case it's plenty loud enough to be noticed.

Last edited by Milton Keynes; 01-25-17 at 11:16 AM.
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Old 01-25-17, 11:19 AM
  #12  
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A nice toned bell is a soothing sound, no doubt. Some of the nice bells made in Japan have a beautiful ring too! However, I don't think that bells, in general, accomplish a whole lot beyond letting somebody know that you're approaching. That's my casual observation riding behind bikes with bells over the years.

I'm looking at a really pretty little bell made in Japan to put on my fixie just because it has a beautiful ring to it. No other reason.
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Old 01-25-17, 11:26 AM
  #13  
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Since pedestrians have right of way over cyclists, I consider it rude to ping them, no matter how slowly they are walking. If I am on the sidewalk, or MUP, both situations I try to avoid like the plague, I suffer peds gracefully. I troll along behind them until they notice me and move over, or not, as they will. I am assured of getting a chance to pass them soon, with, or without, their active cooperation. Bells are for signalling other cyclists that already see you, especially children.
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Old 01-25-17, 11:26 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by ColonelSanders View Post
My bell has served me well multiple times when I have been on pathways shared by pedestrians and bikes.
Ditto for me.

Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
... I consider it rude to ping them, no matter how slowly they are walking...
I don't think it's rude to use it for pedestrians. Actually, I think it's a courtesy to them. It lets them know that you're approaching from behind, and that (hopefully they realize) sudden/erratic movement by them may result in an unintentional bike-pedestrian collision. And, I frequently hear "thank you" as I pass the pedestrian or other cyclist.

Dan

Last edited by _ForceD_; 01-25-17 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 01-25-17, 11:31 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by 52telecaster View Post
I like em. If for no other reason than saying hi to another cyclist.
Waving is more effective. Not all cyclist speak and understand bell.
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Old 01-25-17, 11:32 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
Not useless. Though I don't use one, my wife uses hers all the time. Basically saves the effort calling out "on your left" when passing slow riders or pedestrians on a crowded MUP.
Especially since most peds don't understand or know how to apply basic traffic-flow ideas ideas of "keep right" to "on your left"
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Old 01-25-17, 11:42 AM
  #17  
Leisesturm
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Originally Posted by _ForceD_ View Post
I don't think it's rude to use it for pedestrians. Actually, I think it's a courtesy to them. It lets them know that you're approaching from behind, and that (hopefully they realize) sudden/erratic movement by them may result in an unintentional bike-pedestrian collision.
If there is an unintended collision IMO the fault would be yours because you could see them, and they couldn't see you. If you wait until you have a clean pass, it won't matter that they don't know you are there. As you are passing, with room to spare, you can announce that you are doing it. They are on an MUP, they have been passed a dozen times already before you got there. Anyway, that's the way I roll. Not judging anyone else.
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Old 01-25-17, 11:52 AM
  #18  
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I frequently get compliments and thanks when I approach pedestrians from behind and ring my bell. Before I had a bell, I said "behind," "on your left/right," etc, but more often than not, people would be startled and move erratically in response to my voice. I find that they now immediately recognize the bell, move aside, and are generally more calm and predictable in comparison. I have an electronic horn to alert motorists in traffic.

I use this bell.

Bell TransIt Dingo Bell

It sounds like this.


I have this electric horn.

Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/DAWAY-Loud-..._aya_orig_subj

ebay(example): Cycling Horns Electronic Bike Bicycle Handlebar Ring Ultra Loud Alarm Bell JL | eBay

It sounds like this (Play the video.).

https://smile.amazon.com/gp/customer...SIN=B01A7Y5EEK
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Old 01-25-17, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
If there is an unintended collision IMO the fault would be yours because you could see them, and they couldn't see you. If you wait until you have a clean pass, it won't matter that they don't know you are there. As you are passing, with room to spare, you can announce that you are doing it. They are on an MUP, they have been passed a dozen times already before you got there. Anyway, that's the way I roll. Not judging anyone else.
You may be right regarding fault. Nevertheless, I don't think anyone...rider or pedestrain...wants a potential serious injury-causing collision.

Dan
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Old 01-25-17, 12:00 PM
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Since December I've been using a jingle bell shaped like a dog in an elf suit. It just hangs from the handlebar. I let it jingle continuously while on the MUP.

Seems to help with folks who don't use ear phones. For other folks I smack the bell to get a louder sound. It's still a friendly and unusual enough sound on the MUP to get some attention.
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Old 01-25-17, 12:15 PM
  #21  
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As someone who rides various places, I find them highly effective. Sure if you are on a path and a walker is using earbuds, they may not hear you. But not all walkers have the volume high. I have had some hear me just fine even when I did not expect them to hear me. The ear buds are not actually the problem. Many walkers walk in a way that is predictable. It's the ones that walk like lost fools that are dangerous. That goes for the fools on bicycles as well.

A bell riding off road on fire roads has also been very helpful. Several switchbacks on my local course so when I approach a blind turn, I ring my bell. Many times hikers coming up the opposite way know I am coming even before they see me. Many times I see them going into a formation that will avoid a collision. Some hikers are just flat out rude though. But the bell has helped me many times off road as well.

On the road? No use as there aren't any peds on the street and the cars won't hear me anyway. I just make sure I am highly visible in traffic.
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Old 01-25-17, 12:24 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
I can't remember the last time I used my car horn.
I use mine at least once a week, generally on someone sitting at a light that turned green because they are too busy with their phone. Honking while passing in cars is the norm in India, too, that takes some getting used to!
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Old 01-25-17, 12:33 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
Since pedestrians have right of way over cyclists, I consider it rude to ping them, no matter how slowly they are walking.
In Wisconsin at least, it's the law for cyclists to give an audible warning when overtaking pedestrians or other riders.
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Old 01-25-17, 12:36 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
In Wisconsin at least, it's the law for cyclists to give an audible warning when overtaking pedestrians or other riders.
In Oregon, it is the law for drivers to give an audible warning when overtaking cyclists, and I for one am glad that only around 1 in 100,000 drivers actually complies with this mandate.
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Old 01-25-17, 12:54 PM
  #25  
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The full size Crane bell can be heard from a great distance. It has a lovely sound too. I've had success alerting peds and cyclists using mine. Mostly smiles... from the people who weren't startled.
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