‘Put a bell on your bike’, Kerry councillor urges

Safety call made amid growing number of cyclists on greenways and shared paths

‘So, where would you be going without a bell on your bike?’. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

‘So, where would you be going without a bell on your bike?’. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons / The Irish Times

Tue, Aug 12, 2014, 08:08

“So, where would you be going without a bell on your bike?”Apparently on the growing number of Irish greenways and shared cycling-walking paths.

A councillor in Kerry is calling on cyclists to “put a bell on your bike” for the safety of themselves and walkers.

Cllr Michael Gleeson of the South Kerry Independent Alliance said the practice – which is also the law — has died out and most cyclists now no longer bother with a bell.

But bells on bikes were more necessary than ever as bikes now were faster, and more quickly upon unsuspecting walkers in the increasingly shared walking-cycling facilities of “greenways”, Cllr Gleeson maintains.

Bells were the norm in the past, even on the heavy creaking bicycles ( known as boneshakers) which could be heard coming for some distance, and few people cycled without a bell, councillor said.

In contrast, modern bicycles were “very silent” .

“It would be of enormous benefit to other road users, particularly to walkers,” the councillor said.

He is calling on cyclists to begin with “a gentle ringing” rather a loud alarm in order not to startle walkers, who are also now no longer used to bicycle bells.

Recently returned from the Achill to Westport greenway, Mr Gleeson said he was glad he had a bell on his own bike as it was “a gentle way” of announcing his presence behind walkers.

Shared walkways-cycleways were opening up around the country now, including in his native Killarney and cyclists moved at great speeds.

Mr Gleeson said the bikes were right behind walkers before they could be heard.

And while he accepted that some walkers might get a fright from a bell, they would grow accustomed to it once the bells became prevalent again.

According to the Road Safety Authority “It’s the law to have a bell on your bike at all times.”