Bike bells!
Or, re-learning how to pass people

For a long time, I’ve had bike bell envy. My handlebars–both the ones that were stolen and the new ones I got to replace them–are super thick, and I’ve never yet found a bell mount that fits around them. So while people cheerily dinged their bells on the Eastbank Esplanade, say, I was relegated to saying “on your left” and hoping my voice would carry over the sounds of nearby I-5.

Sure, I probably could have cobbled something together, but this was a case where the activation energy required was just that much higher than how much I cared about it;)

But! Enter David! For my birthday, he got me a bike bell that mounts on the stem. Which is awesome not only because it means I can actually attach it to my bike, but I can also attach it to my bike while still using my handlebar bag!

trek + new bike bell(isn’t it awesome?? Ding ding!! :)

I’ve had this bell on my bike for two and a half days now, and I’ve gotta say–I feel like I need to re-learn how to interact with people now that I have this whole new gadget.

I sort of thought I would just put a bell on my bike and then I could ding it when I passed people, but it turns out that doesn’t feel quite right. If a person’s not actually in my way, for example, but I just want to let him know that I’m going past, a bell ring seems almost like overkill. Not quite aggressive, but even this super cheery bell seems somewhat intrusive in that case.

On the other hand, I don’t like to pass people without at least letting them know that I’m there. So for right now, I’ve been using an only-slightly-more-rational-than-random approach of saying “on your left” or “hello” or “how’s it going” when I go past someone without them necessarily having to do anything, then using my bell when I want to make absolutely sure that someone ahead of me knows that I’m coming up.

I just want people to feel acknowledged and warned but not pestered. And I’m not quite sure yet how a bell fits into that.

But I sure do like that shiny, happy little bell! :) Thanks, David!

Anyone else out there have a bike bell? Is there any common bell etiquette that I should know about? Please enlighten me.


  1. Just ring it. You’ll get used to it…and like it. ;-)

    • heh. It’s that easy, is it? :)

      I’ll admit, I DO sort of like ringing it. It sounds so classic and happy! Just as long as I’m not getting death glares from people. Or most people, anyway–I suppose some will death glare no matter what you do, even with a happy little bell;)

  2. I love having a bell on my bikes, especially when you’re on a trail. You’ll go hoarse if you have to keep saying “on your left” or “passing” or whatever. The only thing I’d say etiquette-wise is that some people just will not hear your bell no matter how many times you ring it so I’d advise against going crazy with the bell in the event someone does not move over when you sound it. Some people are just tuned out to bells. :) And by the way, have a great vacation!

    • Yeah, I’m deciding that the bell on multi-use trails is clutch. And that it makes me supremely happy to ring it, despite my initial misgivings. There’s something so chipper about a little dinging bell–used in moderation, of course:)

      Now it’s just a matter of doing it enough that using it becomes instinct instead of something that I still have to consciously think about:)

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