Ringing bell on footpaths

Hi all,
I ride along footpaths around here quite often - mostly part of cycle routes or just shared cycle paths

Anyway - I have a problem about what to do with walkers and would like to hear other people's ideas and experience.
In theory - when I come up behind some walkers I should ring my bell at a reasonable distance, slow down to a reasonable speed - then pass in a respectful manner.
OK -that's what I try to do - but I know some people carry on at the same speed and then yell when they get close - but those people are just rude, self centered and inconsiderate.

So - what's the problem. Well the problem is that a lot of people react excessively when I ring my bell - in spite of me doing it at a distance and already slowing down a bit (and not going that fast anyway due to there being walkers on the path). I have had situations where people literally lept to the side in a panicky way.

It has come to the point where I tend to avoid using my bell with older people and just cost up behind them slowly and say "excuse me please".

I had a discussion with 2 old ladies (plus dog) who were walking on a shared path yesterday. I coasted up behind them and said excuse me - and they jumped a bit - one went left - the other went right - then went left, realise the dog was still on the right - it was a bit of a mess. By this time I had stopped and said not to worry - no problems etc etc
They apologised for not hearing my bell - so I told them I tend not to use it much because people kinda panic. They agreed and commented that the previous day someone had shot up behind them and nearly run them over - and just missed the dog - so they overreacted when I came up behind then - all be it far slower.

I was wondering what other people do with pedestrians - especially old people - what sort of device do you use to ask them to move over??

(N.B. remember they do not have to move - anymore than a cyclist HAS to move over on the road just because a car wants to go faster - you can only request - not demand)

Heltor Chasca

Out-riding the Black Dog
There is no solution. Until peds and bikes are on separate infrastructure like it is in the NL there will always be conflict.

Until then, it’s ‘Devil you do, Devil you don’t.’ (But it sounds like you are doing the best you can within your remit.)
People will always react or jump no matter what you do. Some will be happy, some will not. The only ones who piss me off as a ped are the ones who ghost past at speed with no warning of their approach whatsoever, I nearly always swear under my breath at them.


I have had cyclists refuse to give way, going at walking pace, eyeballing me in their motorbike rear mirror like a canal path cycle authority.

What you describe is my usual experience. I can ring my bell incessantly, then get told off for not ringing it. Or, my favourite, some people seem to think it is the gentle chime of a far off fairy swarm.

Get a comedic honky horn. They'll notice it, and if the sound isn't too aggressive it will alleviate any potential tension. Honk from a distance of possible.


Legendary Member
Ultimately, whether they hear the bell or not, I always approach slowly now and say...'squeezing through if I may'. Your demeanour means everything, I always smile when I ask, folk nearly always move quite happily.


As most already know, it's actually less about what you do and more about the peds aren't paying attention to their surroundings which means it's always going to be up to you to make your presence known anyway you can.

I did get it wrong a few times but the worst probably was as I got more and more frustrated at the 2 teenage boys who just wouldn't move. It was only when I kinda decided just to go through anyway and I noticed both were wearing hearing aids. I apologised and they just smiled and waved as they could see my embarrassment.

Heltor Chasca

Out-riding the Black Dog
My (very small) 9 year old cycles to school along a shared path. I have told her she is the most dangerous person on the track and it is up to her to look after everyone else. She feels empowered by this oddly enough and rides with confidence.

Of course she will come to learn about the idiotic invisible dog leashes, dog mess and weekend groups of drunk youths blocking the flow. Had to slip a rant in didn’t I?


Cyclists must also allow for deaf people and people like my daughter who is autistic and non verbal and no road sense.
On our main wide mixed used path there are plenty of cyclist. A group if pedestrians will take up the whole width.
A cyclist comes from behind or in front will ring bell etc. Pedestrian will step aside then step back out to take up entire width.
A cyclist comes from behind or in front will ring bell etc. Pedestrian will step aside then step back out to take up entire width.
A cyclist comes from behind or in front will ring bell etc. Pedestrian will step aside then step back out to take up entire width.


Active Member
I find that you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

I've tried bells at varying distances to varying success
I've tried a verbal "on your left/right" as I approach.

You have to remember that people react in different ways, humans are programmed for a "fight, flight, flinch or freeze" response.

best thing you can do is just slow down and ride defensively.


Never used Über Member
You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't. It's one of the reasons I avoid shared paths.

As has been said, best thing is a semi-distance ding-ding, followed by a slow down and a clear "Good morning / afternoon, etc" before you pass, being prepared to stop.
You'll still get people who take the hump regardless.

Horses are a different matter though - I don't ring the bell if approaching them, just say a clear "hello" (or whatever) and wait for the rider to wave me through and then thank them as I pass.
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