Next time you grab your bike to go ride, take a look at your bars. I bet for many of you there is something important missing.
I have a pretty varied diet of miles on the bike these days. Some commutes, some road rides, some times on the cap trail with my 7 year old, even some time on our amazing mountain bike trail system. No matter what bike I am riding there is one small accessory that I use almost every single ride. It also happens to be one that is often conspicuous by its absence on other bikes I pass (or am passed by).
What could this be?
The humble bicycle bell.
If you don’t have a bell, you should go get one this week. If you don’t think you need one, let me assure you are wrong. Seriously, hear me out.
As someone who spends time being the slower and faster road (or trail user) and sometimes just being a walker/hiker I get to experience sharing spaces from different perspectives and I’ve learned that having a bell (and using it) improves the experience for everyone.
“But I can just announce my presence with a friendly on your left or rider up.”
Sure you CAN do that. But here’s the thing I have come to realize over the years, most other people in spaces like the Capital Trail or T-pot bridge just don’t know what that even means or may not process it fast enough to react well. I’ve actually spent quite a bit of time conducting some basic “experiment” of sorts with this. When I find myself riding in areas with lots of other people on bikes and on foot I would sometimes alternate between ringing the bell and announcing my approach verbally. This I can tell you, the bell works much better. Much MUCH better.
No matter what kind of cyclist you are or how fast you are going, a bell on the bars will make interactions with other bike riders and pedestrians easier and more enjoyable.
And remember this, if you are the kind of rider who overtakes slower road and trail users without any announcement or worse yet, also buzzes by them just a little too close… well, maybe it’s time to take a hard look at how you interact with other road/trail users.
Remember, these spaces are for ALL of us. Give each other some space and give that bell a ring!