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Great letter - really makes WaPo look dumb for having missed the hit and run stats.

The only time when a bell is even useful is when a pedestrian might suddenly move into your path

The thing about sudden movements is that they're sudden. As in you don't see them coming. You should always signal before passing, because you never know when someone will stop short, or take a step to the left, or throw up a hand to wave to someone down the street.

I love you guys too.

@Washcycle. Congratulations on getting your letter in without the Post editors cutting it down. By placing your letter at the end the letters editor made it an effective rebuttal to the pro-driver letter.

@Krickey7: I think that we all applaud your for standing up for your legal rights to the road. And if you do so while observing all laws yourself, that makes your "soapbox" for doing so stronger. People on this site may disagree with you (and eachother) on some policy and tactical matters, but please continue to set the example you are setting.

I am unclear whether you are a MoCo Maryland resident but if so, I hope you are plugged into efforts by MoBike, WABA, etc. to occasionally provide input to agencies that need your input. Some officials within SHA are resisting use of the R4-11 sign on the grounds that it is redundant because drivers already understand that cyclists can take the lane.

David, here's my point. There are a few situations we can describe.

1. Cyclist and Pedestrian both do everything right - bell unnecessary
2. Cyclist fails to give enough space when passing - bell useful, but cyclist still wrong
3. Cyclist does everything right, pedestrian does not - bell useful
4. Pedestrian wearing headphones - bell useless

Only in cases 2 and 3 is a bell useful. In 2, the cyclist is going to run them over if the pedestrian doesn't move - so the bell is least of the issues here. The only time a bell is necessary is when a pedestrian is going to do something stupid - so it's odd that pedestrians often complain about the failure to ring one. For cyclists, those times are very rare, but unfortunately, you can't tell from behind how stupid someone is, so we have to treat everyone like they're stupid. And that is why you need a bell, and why I use one.

Krickey7, please don't take that as a dig. I have nothing but admiration for foot-droppers like yourself.

We asked the woman why she was beeping. Her response: “You were in the street.” When we asked where she expected us to ride, she drove off.

This SUV driver was probably put off by the "arrogance" and "entitlement" you were showing.


'Course not, W-C. You have passion and conviction, and that counts for a lot. You and I may disagree on the degree to which law abiding should be emphasized among cyclists, but neither of us believes our rights are in any manner contingent.

Even a 47-year old can manage a trackstand, though, as long as the light reads 20 seconds or less. I'm a big believer that style points count in riding.

Good point, some foot-droppers are not literally "foot-droppers".

#4 is one I see far too often.

Yep, but they MIGHT hear the bell and at least you put the onus back on them.

Yep, but they MIGHT hear the bell and at least you put the onus back on them.

I think you're missing Wash's whole point. Ringing a bell doesn't put the onus on the pedestrian, no more than honking a horn gives you right of way in a car. The onus is on the cyclist to pass safely -- and just as motorists have to give three feet of "shy space" when passing cyclists, cyclists need to give pedestrians enough space that they're not startled and a small movement doesn't cause a collision. And if the trail is too crowded to pass safely, the onus is on the cyclist to slow down and wait.

The problem is that the entirety of cyclist education about sharing trails safely is "warn before passing." What we should be teaching people is "pass so you don't need to warn."

I agree that you should pass so you shouldnt NEED to warn, but you should warn ANYWAY. Its not only that peds and slower cyclists get tetchy about this particular issue, but it would be legally relevant if there was an accident.

I disagree - you still need to warn. Do you really think we can make people behave like vehicles on area trails? That they should look and signal before stopping, turns and "lane changes"?

I think it's more likely that people will walk the way they have for millennia. The bell gives pedestrians more situational awareness, so they can react or not as needed (where react encompasses "delay chasing the kitty you just saw").

got passed tonight with a 3" clearance by a driver who then clipped the cyclist in front of me with her passenger side mirror....
If you see a white asian looking sportscar with MD tags MFZ411 and a busted mirror, MPD is looking out for her as a hit and run driver....

I've noticed that drivers "forget" that a cyclist is also moving. As soon as the driver's body passes the cyclist's, they start to ease back into the lane.

I have three fixes. One, I'll sometimes make some movement at that point so that the driver sees me(yeah, and hears my bellow). I also tend to run front flashers, even in daylight. And I ride pretty far out into the lane, because, well, you never know when you're going to need room to your right.

I hope the rider is okay.

I ride pretty far out into the lane, because, well, you never know when you're going to need room to your right.

I skip all the other stuff, but my rule of thumb is, "Cars will pass you with the same clearance you give yourself on the right."

If you're hugging the curb, cars *will* hug you.

Yeah, but when I run the flashers, I can make a "whoo-whoo-whoo" sound. Then cars pull over to let me pass.

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