To ring my bell or not?

Your thoughts on this dilemma please!

Should I ring my bell?

The Mathematician and I enjoy riding our bikes on rail trails and shared paths, rarely do we ride on busy roads – except for that one time we did a small cycling tour, (3 of us and our guide) in London and rode over the Tower Bridge in peak hour traffic, and the girl with us lost her shoe twice on the bridge (another great story!) – so with all the cycling we’ve done around the world, we like to think we know how to share with others.

We are considerate, thoughtful and never pushy as we ride along. We are not crazy fast stunt riders, that’s for sure!

All the signs say it’s a shared path; to give priority to pedestrians; keep to the left of the path; and bike riders should ring their bell when coming up to others.

Bike bell
My special bike bell from Amsterdam – it makes a great ding-dong sound

The dilemma

We do all that but, and here’s my dilemma, some people don’t like us ringing our bell!

Some people have earphones in listening to music, podcasts, books or are busy talking on the phone. We ring our bell but they don’t hear it and then get upset when we pass by, as they get a shock!

Then there’s the others who jump in surprise when you ring the bell and scatter all over the path and pose a risk of crashing, falling over or having a heart attack!

Groups of people walking all over the path, deep in conversation concern me as they are definitely not concentrating and may not hear my ringing bell.

Those with dogs also worry me. I have had issues with dogs while out riding before and they scare me, even when on a leash, so I always go cautiously around dogs.

The other day we passed an elderly lady who was walking on the left of the path with lots of room and I decided not to ring my bell as there was space to safely pass her by. But as I rode by her, she muttered, very loudly ‘BELL’, indicating I should have rung my bell.

What to do? It seems whatever I do is wrong in some people’s minds. But then you can’t please all the people all the time can you?

These days, more often than not, I ring my bell and also call out something like, ‘passing by’ or ‘hello coming up behind you’.

Another one I try is to lighten the situation by making a joke about my ding-dong bell, as it sounds like a doorbell or Avon calling. They tend to laugh at that!

But sometimes nothing works and people are bothered, scared, put-out or upset in some way with cyclists riding by. Shared paths are for everyone to use though and are much safer than being out on a busy road in my opinion. And at my age I’m much more cautious than I used to be!

By the way, in case you’re interested in my bike bell, I bought it in Amsterdam when we were on a cycling tour, as a memento of our time in this cycling capital of the world. It has a range of images on it from aroundThe Netherlands and I just love the sound. Did you play the video, I made it especially for you to hear the ding-dong!

Apparently this is not a new problem, as a search on the internet came up with many similar issues, with others wondering what the right thing to do is. The recommended thing to do is ring your bell.

It might not seem like a big deal to you, but it’s just that I don’t like upsetting people and like to do the right thing. As a walker I must say I prefer to hear a bell ringing to warn me of a bike coming, so maybe I should stick with that action.

Tell me what you think

So what do you prefer if you’re out walking and a bike rider comes up behind you?

Will you hear the bell, will you jump in shock, will you move to the left or will you abuse me for ringing/not ringing my bell?

I’m all ears 🙂

Deb xx

PS. I know in the scheme of things with all that’s happening in the world today, this is a minor dilemma but I am attempting to carry on with some degree of normalcy. Just some random thoughts on a Thursday 🙂

Ring my bell or you can pin me!

Linking up with Denyse for #lifethisweek with the prompt of Out and About

You can also find Deb’s World in lots of other places – stay in touch by clicking any of the buttons below.

Debbie - mother of a 40 year old

Everyone has a story to tell! Deb is a young-at-heart & active 60+ blogger/retiree, after being made redundant from her 22-year career managing education programs in a men’s correctional centre (jail). She now spends her time reading, blogging, riding her ebike and travelling. Deb was awarded a Bravery Award from the Queen when she was 17 after a tragic accident – a definite life changing moment! She is married with 3 grown-up daughters & has 4 grandchildren. She never imagined being Granny Debs would bring so much joy to her life! You can read more of Deb’s story here

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54 Replies to “To ring my bell or not?”

  1. Well, I’m a fellow bike rider Deb so I say ring the bell. It’s kind of like the equivalent of putting the indicators on isn’t it. Lets people know what you’re doing and where you’re going. Plus, it’s a cute ding-dong! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would ring the bell Deb. As a runner and someone who was knocked over by a cyclist (who didn’t ring their bell!) I always am a little nervous when running on shared paths. There are some cyclists who I’m sure feel they are in the Tour de France every Saturday morning LOL:) I know when running in a group someone usually calls ‘Bike Up’ to let the group know. I’m also not a fan of people wearing earphones for the very reason you suggested – they can’t hear who is coming along behind them. Just know whatever you do you probably won’t win that is the nature of humans I think. Enjoy your riding and keeping fit – at least you are getting out there and being active! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate that insight Sue and will take it on board. I was much better this morning at ringing my bell and i think everyone’s comments have made it much clearer in my mind. We used similar calls when riding on a tour overseas recently and it helped a lot. Thanks Sue and I’m sorry to hear you were knocked over by a cyclist 😦


  3. It might be a minor but it really is a problem for cyclist. I’ve had exactly the same experiences as you Deb and haven’t been sure. I never used to ring my bell, but in these times of people being on their mobiles, I’ve decided it’s necessary. The worst scenario are those people walking their dogs, even on leash, AND in their mobile. They are usually off on another planet. Ring that bell proudly Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for understanding Jennifer and I agree dogs can be scary at times, especially if the owner is on their phone at the time. I tend to give them a wide berth if I can but most are very amenable. I’m starting to get better at ringing my bell now!


  4. Hi Deb. I know your dilemma. I would definitely ring the bell. If there is a massive space then perhaps that is the only time you wouldn’t need to or if the path is gravel and it’s obvious you are approaching. If I was walking I would prefer to hear the bell as I am prone to wandering around a bit and I would hate to cause a crash😊. To be honest if someone doesn’t like it, it’s their problem. You’ve not hurt them by ringing the bell and with any luck you will never see them again anyway!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m one of the people walking along in their own little world – most bike bells make a faint “ting” type noise and with all the electronic devices that ping and ting, my brain doesn’t even register it. My husband usually hauls me off to the side because he realizes it’s some poor pushbike rider trying to get past us.
    I think your ringing and small commentary to go with it is the answer – it lightens the moment and the paths are there to share.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Just like tooting a car horn to warn someone you are approaching in a car (if they show signs of walking into the road), ring the bell and warn people you’re approaching, Debbie. After all, that’s what the horn and bell are there for. I’m sure most people would understand and most would certainly rather be safe than collide with a vehicle or bike and end up having to go to the hospital.
    Now, having bells on an approaching pram or shopping trolley is another story (especially when the person pushing the pram/shopping trolley is scrolling on their mobile phone.)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Definitely ring your bell (love your video!). If people act surprised or even angry it’s on them. Best to let people know that you are coming up behind them. Also, it’s better than calling out “on your left” or something like that. I’m one of those people who doesn’t know right from left so I never know which way to move to let them pass 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I haven’t as yet got a bed, so I usually yell out “I’m coming behind on your right” as us Kiwis have a golden rule around these parts to stay on the left. You would not believe how many grumpy older men have told me off for being on the right. I give them a silent acknowledge 🙂
    As a walker and being slightly deaf, I like loud noises or voices, and similar to Leanne’s comment Les pulls me aside if we are together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m assuming you have a bed but not a bell Suz 😂. It’s interesting hearing from everyone and the reactions of others while out and about. I always place try to make myself aware of the person I’m approaching to work out the best strategy but it sometimes backfires. I always make sure I thank people who move over as I pass them. Thanks for your thoughts on the matter

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep got a bed a very comfy bed too 🙂 I have had some over reaction from folk when letting them know, many just do not like sharing their space with bikes. I do go slow. Though what is it with middle aged men that need to go really fast!!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I agree Donna and I’m surprised it was an issue on the Camino Trail! In many of the cycling tours we’ve been on they have used various terms to indicate bikes , walkers and cars and i found this very useful too. You’ll be pleased to know this morning’s ride had me ringing my bell for all and sundry and not worrying about it! I also followed up with a pleasant thank you or good morning as I passed by. Thanks for your comment and suggestion 🙂


  9. Ring that bell, it has a beautiful sound and it is very special. But also for the warning it gives. Also, thank you for something relatively light; but not slight. Today is a good day for lightness and laughter in the face of such worldwide angst.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree with you! It’s very hard to stay light at the moment isn’t it, with all that’s going on. It’s important that we can look at other issues going on and not dwell too much on the negatives. Easier said than done though! Thanks for your lovely comment.


  10. Thank you for giving another perspective on the bell ringing, debate. I used to walk my dog along a bikeway and always got a shock from bikers not ringing bells, as they wizzed past on the way to the velodrome near us. But now I can see your side, as you don’t want to scare others, and this can happen, especially if they are slightly hard of hearing. A friendly comment is what I loved to hear. Bike coming on the right, or two bikes approaching, or Good morning, coming past on the right and such like. Such commentary might not frighten like the punctuating sound of a bell, which might cause alarm in the elderly and dogs.
    Just my thoughts. (p.s. I have moved house now, so a bikeway isn’t a problem anymore) Great post, thanks Deb.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I vote for bell ringing. However, as you note, you can probably never win. I especially like it when walking my son’s dog. He is part Beagle and can dart suddenly across the path when a smell attracts him. I would hate a bike to crash into him causing both damages.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. As a runner who gets passed by plenty of bikes on a rail trail, I say “Yes”, ring the bell. I appreciate knowing when a bike is coming up on my left side, rather than being surprised as they woosh on by! Thanks for asking! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. We share our walking path with cyclists and I much prefer the ones who give a little ding and a cheery coming through than the ones who simply hurtle past without warning. I think it’s good manners. Interestingly the former tend to be those in their late 50s and up & the latter are younger.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m one of those people with earphones in so I probably wouldn’t hear your lovely bell (yes, I appreciated the video) but I certainly wouldn’t object to it. People are such fickle creatures, I don’t think you can please everyone so do what feels good to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I would be self conscious to ring the bell but I would prefer to do it than to crash into someone. I see some cyclists who can be ‘aggro’ at their pace being slowed by walkers. Not sure everyone understands ‘sharing.’ Your post reminded me that just when my then newly wed daughter and her then husband who was a keen cyclist, both went cycling in Centennial Park and she crashed into some people. I cannot remember the details but she was injured and the bike never got used again.

    Thank you for linking up for Life This Week. Next week, the optional prompt, is for some, the (Easter) seasonally-based 13/51 Chocolate 30.3.2020. Hope to see you back linking up then too. Denyse.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Denyse, I agree not everyone understands the term sharing! Oh dear your daughter’s crash sounds awful and I’m not surprised she didn’t get back out on the bike. I’m getting much better at ringing the bell now after having everyone’s thoughts on the topic.
      Chocolate sounds good next week!


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