Round Up: Alert other road users by bell, horn, whistle or voice

Cyclescheme, 30.05.2019

Round Up: Alert other road users by bell, horn, whistle or voice

What’s the best way to alert other road users to your presence while cycling – bell, horn, whistle, voice? Here’s what you need to know.

New bikes in the UK are sold with bells. It’s a legal requirement. The requirement relates to the sale of the bike, not the use of the bike. You don’t have to have a bell on your bike when you’re commuting. But should you?

The Highway Code says: ‘You should… Be considerate of other road users, taking extra care around blind and partially sighted pedestrians. Use your bell when necessary to signal you are nearby.’ The word ‘must’ isn’t used, indicating that it’s not law. Moreover, the Code’s recommendation can be met with anything that provides an audible warning – your voice, a bulb horn, a kazoo. 

Before considering the options, there’s a couple of important caveats. Firstly, a bell or horn is not a substitute for good road positioning and considerate behaviour. Secondly, your first priority in an emergency is to brake or take evasive action and not to sound-off; anything that delays those responses could do more harm than good.


Get an accessory package


Voice

Ideal for alerting pedestrians, horse riders, or other cyclists, particularly on traffic-free routes. It’s hands-free, instantly available, and you can set the volume – and content – to suit the situation. ‘Good morning!’, ‘Cyclist behind’, ‘Excuse me’, and ‘STOP!’ are just some of your options. Car drivers won’t hear you, however.

Bell

That bell your bike came with? If you’re likely to encounter pedestrians (drivers won’t hear you), keep it. It’s a polite warning that instantly identifies you as a cyclist. These three bells are particularly good.

Trigger bell, RRP £9.99. Can be positioned anywhere on the handlebar so you can ring the bell while braking rather than instead of braking.

Trigger bell

Pashely Ding-Dong, RRP from £10. The traditional chromed metal bell that comes in two sizes, large – which is louder – or small.

Timber! MTB Bell, RRP £24.99. Press the switch and trail vibration will make it ring continuously to alert walkers.

Horn

No, not a squeezy bulb horn (although one might raise a smile with pedestrians), but something loud enough to be heard by oblivious drivers pulling out in front of you. The high volume will startle pedestrians and may ‘up the ante’ with aggressive drivers.

Hornit db140

• Samui Air Zound XL, RRP £22.55. Available from various retailers, this rechargeable 115 decibel horn works via compressed air, which you top up with a bike pump.

Hornit db140, RRP £19.99. Even louder than an Air Zound, this 140 decibel horn sounds a bit like a ray gun. The trigger can be set near a brake for easy access. Runs on two AAA batteries.

Whistle

Avoid. You’ve got to raise a whistle to your mouth to use it, and you’ll then have a lump of metal or plastic between your teeth in the event you fall off your bike…


Apply to join Cyclescheme

Comments

More articles

Round Up: 10 Ways to upgrade your commute

Round Up: 10 Ways to upgrade your commute

Cyclescheme isn’t only a great way to get a new bike. It can also be used for accessories – and to improve the bike you’ve already got.

Round Up: Folding e-bikes

Round Up: Folding e-bikes

An e-bike that folds provides sweat-free cycling wherever you’re going and however you’re getting there.

Round Up: The best bikes under £250

Round Up: The best bikes under £250

Cheap doesn’t have to mean nasty. Choose wisely and you can buy a decent new commuter bike for £250 or less.