That sound you hear is cyclists hooting with disbelief when they heard that London’s Westminster Council recently announced they were “ considering handing out bicycle bells to keep cyclists safe.”
Interestingly enough, cyclists do think that being advised to use a bike bell is not necessarily patronising or quaint when it can be sounded at an appropriate moment. Examples that spring to mind are when there is a need to politely alert another cyclist or when using a cycle lane, tow path or other circumstances when pedestrians need to be more gently given notice of an approaching cyclist.
Yet, who hasn’t experienced seeing pedestrians freeze in their tracks when at the last minute they do suddenly look up to confront the frantic but ultimately, light tinkling sound bearing down upon them?
However, the Westminster announcement does appear to display astounding naivety at best as it seems to show complete disregard of the life and death realities of a two wheeled existence on UK roads.
Notwithstanding, the growing numbers of pedestrians with ears and eyes seemingly hardwired into their ipods and smartphones, every year around 19,200 cycling injuries are reported and it’s no surprise that bicycle accident claims continue to rise.
Over the last decade there has been a 50 per cent rise in cyclist injuries from nearly 3,000 in 2006 to just under 4,500 in 2011. At the start of 2013, the cyclist death toll on UK roads reached a five-year high of 122. At the same time, Transport Minister, Norman Baker, announced a £62 million road investment plan, which will include provision to “improve road junctions, cycle facilities at stations and cycle routes in national parks.”
According to recent research, in just 12 months, nearly a third more cyclists are using the roads with 11 million riding their bikes at least once a week. As Government plans to rollout a cycling safety infrastructure fit for the 21st century over the next ten years, the need to completely transform motorist attitudes and behaviours would be a more constructive step towards ensuring cyclist safety than ringing a bell on bike as they used to do in a previous age.