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Visualizations of Custis trail use... http://planitmetro.com/2011/05/13/learning-about-bicycle-commuters/

Is having a bell a legal requirement? I didn't know that...

Either a bell or a horn.

Why does a throat not count as an audible device capable of being heard 100 ft?

Because it doesn't. Don't fight it. Buy a dang bell already. Everyone you pass on the trail will thank you.

I really cannot fathom this reluctance to buy and use a damn bell. Its about $10-20, very small, weighs a few hundred grams, works, legally required and makes other road/trail users happy.

I actually disagree. If someone knows of some evidence that a bell increases safety I'd love to see it, but otherwise it's a dumb law. Even if you have a bell, there is no requirement to ever use it (I don't think "trail rules" rise to the level of law).

As a law, it may be dumb, but still the law. Save your ammunition for bigger fights than this one.

As a trail rule, it's a good one. A bell is more conducive to trail harmony than the average raised voice, and lends a note of musical grace to the commute.

"On the left" and ringing bells doesn't seem to scale once you get to a certain level of trail traffic - riding in Seattle last year I was the only person ringing madly away until I came to realize the local point of view that seems far more selective as to when it may be useful to ring ring etc.

Whether its a dumb law or not, what is the cost of compliance? I can see a better argument for not stopping at stop signs. But a bell?

I think Bells are great. I have been riding for 25 years. Audible warnings such as "left" usually cause pedestrians to jump - and not necessarily in the correct direction. Where as a Bell usually results in a slight hand wave from the pedestrian - as in "I heard you and thanks." Bells are extremely effective.

From the cognitive perspective, a bell should be more effective as it is unique and specific to a bicycle, while a voice might be tuned out.

Where as a Bell usually results in a slight hand wave from the pedestrian - as in "I heard you and thanks.

I ride the W&OD all the time and the MVT when craving adventure and crisis. I have used bells on both these trails and never observed that reaction.

A bell is more conducive to trail harmony than the average raised voice, and lends a note of musical grace to the commute.

You've never heard my raised voice.

I don't have a bell, but I rode for a long time with one of those Honka Hoota horns--which was fantastic. You could make it sound like the classic Harpo horn, or like a European ambulance. Very versitile.

Didn't fit on my oversized-diameter bars, though, so now I slow down when passing, and make a kind of clucking noise as I go by.

Haven't had any complaints.

a Bell usually results in a slight hand wave from the pedestrian - as in "I heard you and thanks."

My subtle clucking noise is loud enough to register, and occasionally I get a mild wave from the pedestrian. It tends to attract geese though; I guess nothing's perfect.

A bell is more conducive to trail harmony than the average raised voice

Except when two riders ring at the same time. A little part of me dies every time I hear bike bells ringing out of tune.

A bell in an urban area with high traffic noise or on a trail full of joggers ruining their hearing with iPod ear buds is worthless more than half the time as a genuine warning of an approaching bike. None the less I would propose that all cyclists have and use bells routinely for a very important reason - it's distinctive in a positive way. How many times have writers of anti bike editorial diatribes and letters to the editor mentioned spandex or yellow jackets as being emblematic of cyclists? If we are to be recognized as having a common thread let it be for our proactive use of bells everywhere, all the time to announce our arrival on the scene. Make it a meme that every cyclist from the K St lawyer spandexed from head to toe on his $10K carbon fiber wonder bike to the Takoma Park hippie on her Portland cargo bike to the immigrant brick layer in Ward 4 on his pawn shop special has a bell and uses it whenever, wherever. A fair amount of press is being generated these days about how bikes are in their renaissance. A movement needs, along with a visual image an anthem, a sound that resonates, that sticks in the head. Absent a universal bike theme song how about bells?

Just a thought. ( Besides I love ringing my bell passing thru the stone tunnel on the CCT )

Four Mile Run Trail near 3rd and Harrison St. has some mighty steep hills. They're pretty short (a couple hundred feet at the most) but quite a challenge. In fact, that's the only time I've ever thought that I might fall directly backwards while riding a bike in the DC area.

Fortunately, the main trails are not that steep. It's the turnoff up to Harrison that is the real test. So if anyone of you are hankering for a short but tough challenge, check out that trail entrance. Use your brakes if you're going downhill from Harrison. If you're going in the other direction, simply try not to fall over backwards on the bike. And take in plenty of oxygen as you ride up!

The law requiring a bell or other audible device says nothing about trails. I ride mostly in the street and find a bell damn near worthless.

Perhaps Washcycle Industries could produce a bell with a unique tone, marking the user as one of the cycling cognoscenti.

What sort of tone would a 6Al/4V titanium bell make?

Like bArlington, I've also found using a bell does get me hand waves, and even the occasional "thank you". Indispensable tool, imho. Of course I still use my voice in certain circumstances, as well.

Now to totally geek-out on bells: Over the years I have tried many different bells, and have found my favorite being the very benign (children's?) "ching-ching" style. The majority of people seem to respond really well to it. There is a surprising amount of versatility and ring control in that type of bell too, as it lets you adjust the ring to the situation.

This makes me wonder about cars, and why they only come with one form of horn. Would it hurt the manufacturers to add a calmer audible signal for drivers to communicate with peds and cyclists?

Is there a bell app yet?

I keep meaning to get a bell, as I ride on the CCT quite a bit and get tired of saying "On your left" all the time. However, I find my voice to be quite as effective as a bell, and louder, if necessary. I also get waves and thanks for warning people verbally, so bells ain't all that.

Washcycle industries is working on a loud siren device that makes announcements sure to get people out of your way. Things like "my brakes don't work" and "I have explosive diarreah".

I think a bell is useful. I'm just not sure requiring people to have one makes us any safer, and thus I'm not a fan of the law. It's not something worth making a big stink over, but if I were asked to do a rewrite, I'd leave it out.

Most bicycle equipment laws seem to be written by people who have no knowledge of cycling or engineering, and seem to be a knee-jerk response: automobiles have equipment laws, so bikes must need them too. Cars have to have horns, so bikes have to have bells.

What's interesting to me is that many states have scaled way back on their equipment laws, at least for passenger cars. Many states and DC have gotten rid of mandatory periodic inspections, because they found it had little impact on safety. When I was a kid growing up in Massachusetts, every car had to be inspected twice a year -- and the whole state had the same deadlines, March 31 and September 30. It's hard to believe people put up with that idiocy.

I'd like to think that as equipment requirements become less of a burden on drivers they will relax on cyclists as well.

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