Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Knock, knock

"Who's there?"


"Isobel who?"

"Isobel required on a bicycle"

No it isn't. The bike shop has to fit a bell on a new bike, but not on a second-hand bike. Although the highway code recommends that bicycles carry a bell, there is no law that says they have to have one.

Apparently bells on new bikes were compulsory until 1983, when the requirement was removed, but it was re-instated in 2004.

All this passed me by, since it happened during almost 40 years that I managed without a bike between the late 60's and 2006. Before then, my bicycle bell was a shiny metal dome, with an internal ratchet system that produced a tinkling noise when I pushed it. Now my bicycle bell is just a little black metal dome, with a rubber finger that produces a single ping when I flick it.

I haven't actually used the bell, other than accidentally. I tend to think that it's more polite to call "excuse me" if I need to make pedestrians aware. But it's encouraging that while the law on bicycle bells moves in circles, the supporting technology has made huge strides forward in the last 4o years.

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