This letter to the editor from June 16, 1879 is interesting for several reasons. First of all, the writer is suggesting that bicycle be equipped with some sort of bell (if only such a thing existed) but a bell like sleigh bells that are jingling, ring ting tingling too. Sleigh bells were needed because sleighs are so quiet that people needed to be alerted to them, which brings us to the second interesting thing. The concern is for all the people in the streets, because of course this is 1879 and the idea that people didn't belong in the streets hadn't take hold yet. I wonder if this is how mandatory bike bells got put into place - at a time when people were often in the streets, and were used to having bells on quiet vehicles, they required them.Finally, this is the oldest letter I could find of a pedestrian complaining to the papers about the dangers of cyclists. A forebear of Washington Dame no doubt.
If this writer is concerned about bikes in the streets, just wait until cars come along.