Thursday, July 28, 2011

For Whom the Bell Tolls

OK, so I am interested in what people think about bike bells and bell etiquette.

On the one hand, my understanding is that it is right and proper to let people know you are riding up behind them with a confident BRING BRING.

Sounds simple.......BUT

WHEN exactly does one do this?
WHAT if you inadvertently frighten the CRAP out of someone.
WHY isn't there an agreement about what this loud announcement requires of someone walking along a bike path/path?

And HOW I cringe when I see people JUMP at the sound of the bell and LEAP right off the path as if I am going to MOW THEM DOWN instead of pass them sedately on the right.

 And then there is the issue of ringing one's bell too soon because to ring it too CLOSE might be LOUD and FRIGHTENING - which means that people might not hear.......or you think they have heard, and for a little while you are HAPPY they they have heard the bell, not panicked and are waiting for you to pass them on the right - no fuss, no bother, see, humans can co-exist in the same world - easy ...... which all comes tumbling down when they LEAP up in the air with FRIGHT as you come up behind them..........yelling "why don't you use your BELL!!!!!?"

SO of course I apologize. Profusely. Imagine - apologizing for RIDING ONES BIKE OUT IN THE WORLD IN PUBLIC....... SORRY for not taking my car.....SORRY for being PART OF THE SOLUTION......SORRY for being in public space.......SORRY we haven't found a way to co - exist on these multipurpose paths.....SORRY our %$#^&head government thinks that shared paths that pit cyclists, poodles and pedestrians against each other or cyclists and speeding trucks together on the same infrastructure constitutes excellent cycling infrastructure.... SORRY but MOSTLY I am just sorry you got a fright and that you are perhaps stressed, angry, unhappy or sad about other things but you are choosing to TAKE IT OUT ON ME so I can hopefully smile and shrug and transform your unhappiness into love and light and acceptance........because I REFUSE to take your misery and PASS IT ON.........or something. 

Anyhoo today, I was taking Queenie to Phillip for her very first service........and knowing the Hindmarsh / Melrose Dr intersection is all dug up with the bike and foot paths closed...I swapped over to the other side of the road and rode along the foot path.

Two people were walking along in front of me. I rang the bell, and then, when they didn't move over, slowed down and slowly passed them on the right........they were on the path - I was on the dirt - and said thank you.....and in reply I received a very cranky "Why don't you ride on the road or use the BIKE path... that's what it is for!"

My little heart sank for a moment - I was having such a lovely morning my defenses were not up at all so this angry barb got right in and dented my little heart........and I didn't know what or if to reply - I mean they didn't get a fright, they didn't have to stop or move off the path and there was room for me to pass and I did so at a very slow pace and in the end I just asked sweetly "Are you too selfish to share?" as I pedaled off..........

One of the reasons I am not a HUGE fan of that it can be quite tumultuous careering from the highs of happy, positive lovely random human experiences down into the clunky bruised wondering of what to do when the sad ones perpetrate their misery and unhappiness all over you. 

Humans. I choose ducks any day.

As for the bell issue - I continue to be a student on this topic..........


Valley View said...

In Darwin we used to call that the Bike Track Boggy. I think pepople in ONC are just a littel up tight in winter - not enough sun, to many radiator fumes and so on.

If I was you I'd get a big big air horn, just like the Dukes of Hazard! (then instead of Duckie we could call you Daisy)

he he BVVF

Barbara said...

I find I use my bell (actually
it's a little horn shaped like
sumo wrestler) less and less -
simply because 90% percent of
the people I encounter are
hooked to an ipod and totally
oblivious to the world around

dixiebelle said...

I think you are too polite. I am thinking something else would have escaped my mouth, along the lines of... hmmm, well, it starts with f and ends in f! If I was riding, I'd be hot, sweaty, out of breath and pissed off at something.

Must change that, must become peaceful bike rider like yourself... my poor bike (no style like yours) has been ridden twice. I haven't ridden anywhere requiring the thought of bell-dinging, but if I did, I am sure I would ring it too much and call out as well!! My husband however, has received abuse from another bike rider when riding the kids home in their bike trailer, so obv. riding isn't peaceful for everyone!!

dixiebelle said...

(Oh, BTW, maybe of interest to you, The Urban Homesteaders Club is starting up again:!/groups/124222657670910/?ap=1

Hopefully that works...

sherdie said...

Hmm, tricky. Ring early, ring often, I say. Although my little bike (Neville) has such a rattle that the bell is the quietest thing on it.

And we will change the people, one conversation (or bell ring) at time, until we all feel like we have enough space to share.

slow rpm said...

I spend a lot of time thinking about this issue too.In particular, with regard to the type of bell and it's ring tone. I find the really old fashioned' ring ring' ones to give the gentlest,and dare I say it,cheeriest warning. Those Japanese brass ones sure look stylish but I find the single 'TING!' to be quite aggressive.

My co-pilot reckons I worry about things too much!

Greenie said...

Hi - On the bell ringing thing, I try to ring about 50-100m away and then if I don't think they've heard, I do it again or yell out "coming through on your right" just before I go past them. I have had the jump out of the skin syndrome but not the verbal abuse. Plenty of passive aggressive "I'm simply not moving" kind of behaviour, which I always greet with a big loud thank you or good Morning and my winningest smile1 It gives me a kind of moral superiority to feed off rather than seething at their rudeness.
On your question re avocadoes - I have two self-seeded, a bacon and a Haas from diggers. the two self-seeded are growing where they originally came up and both are pretty prone to frost. I've covered them with chook straw out of the chook pen to keep them warm, with just the top leaves sticking out, and give them fortnightly waterings of a weak seasol solution. the other two are against a highly protected south-westerly wall that just never sees frost, so its home to them and a grapefruit. we'll have to wait a couple of years to see if we get any fruit. One of the self-seeders is on its second winter, but it's the first winter for the other 3. Stay tuned! great to see you on my blog - talk soon Greenie x

zed42 said...

I don't have a bell on any of my bikes. I hate it when people just ring their bells at me until I get out of the way, then zoom past without a word. (It would be different if they said thankyou or something). I usually just wait until I'm within earshot and then say "Excuse me please". Although I do still have a bit of a problem with people being startled.

Actually, the best solution I've found is to just make train noises as you ride along, including a loud woo-wooooo whenever you see someone. This solution may not be for everyone though.

The Duck Herder said...

Well. Many thanks for your comments - I DO believe we have confirmed it is a very murky area........

Luckily Queenie has a VERY polite bell.......but unlike Neville (didn't you have a fish called Neville, oh, that's right, he was C Mc C)she is super stealthy and quiet......

Hmmm, I think it might be good to just keep ringing that bell - I certainly don't expect people to get out of the way......unless they are blocking the whole path or their poodles are off the lead....

And REALLY, lets face it - ONCian paths are so quiet during the week days it probably does people GOOD to have to negotiate public space with other humans......and I just need to get a thicker skin......

thanks folks!

Michelle said...

I have a big Electra bell that goes "DING DONG" rather than "tinkle inkle" and so I ring that when I'm about 20 m away from people, and then call "passing on your right" if they look to be wandering across the bike path aimlessly. Most people on the Lyneham/O'Connor bike paths are pretty good. It's the lycra clad maniacs, and the dogwalkers with the loooooong leashed I have the most problems with.

But hey - I like to think those people who complain about bike riders are very unhappy people who perhaps don't get enough hugs. I pity them. And there I am smiling widely and sitting on my bike and breathing in fresh air.

Marla said...

"WHAT if you inadvertently frighten the CRAP out of someone?"

Bonus points!