Peer calls for ‘foul-mouthed’ cyclists to be forced to have bells on their bikes

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·3-min read
hand on bicycle bell and handlebar
The government has ruled out requiring all cyclists to have bells on their bikes. (Getty)

The government has ruled out a requirement for all cyclists to have bells on their bikes, despite a plea from peers for a new law to be implemented.

During a spirited debate in the House of Lords on Wednesday, there were complaints made at question time of “aggressive and foul-mouthed” behaviour by some cyclists.

Labour’s Lord Touhig spoke of a “near encounter” with a cyclist who did not have a bell but shouted “ding ding” as he approached.

Calling for bells to be added to all bikes, he said: “While it is argued that cyclists should not rely unduly on bells as a means of avoiding hazards, in almost every case it is the only warning that the pedestrian has.

“Surely all cyclists should be required to have bells on their bicycles and should not be allowed on the road without them.”

City workers walking and cycling over Waterloo Bridge at the end of the working day. Crash zoom effect done in camera.
City workers walking and cycling over Waterloo Bridge in London. (Getty)

Conservative Lord Leigh of Hurley argued: “Outside England, bells are required under the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic 1968, so why do we not have that requirement in England as well?”

Conservative Lord Lexden asked what could be done about the “huge number of cyclists without bells, who do not lack aggressive and foul-mouthed elements”.

Lord Lexden said some seemed to prefer riding on pavements than designated cycle lanes, adding that this was “irresponsible”.

Watch: Cyclists terrify horse and rider

Transport minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton told the Lords that all new bikes were required to be sold with a bell fitted – but said the government was not about to mandate bells on bicycles because it would be “disproportionate”.

Lady Vere said cyclists, like all road users, had a responsibility to behave in a safe manner.

The Highway Code recommended bells were fitted and used as necessary, she added.

Cyclists did need to take responsibility for their actions, Lady Vere said.

“Sometimes a little ding-ding on a bell on a bridleway is perfectly fine but if you are travelling in central London, ding-ding on a bell will get you nowhere and in those circumstances a shout is probably much more preferable,” she added.

Liberal Democrat Baroness Ludford said e-scooters arguably posed an even greater threat and accused the government of “normalising” them “by stealth”.

Lady Ludford said some were being marketed with a top speed of 50mph despite it being illegal to ride them on roads or pavements.

Lady Vere said it was illegal to ride an e-scooter on a public road.

It comes after trials of e-scooter hire schemes were permitted in cities across Britain in July last year.

Figures released by the Met Police in November found that e-scooter crashes in London rose from four in 2018 to 32 the following year.

girl is taking her electric scooter denim style flowers behind her
Trials of e-scooter hire schemes were permitted in cities across Britain in July last year. (Getty/stock photo)

However, due to illegal use, e-scooter collisions are underreported, the force added.

Police data released this week also found that e-scooters are being used in hundreds of offences including assaults, burglaries and anti-social behaviour.

Other cases involve riders drunk and high on drugs crashing into pedestrians and vehicles.

Most crimes are believed to involve private e-scooters, which can only legally be used in the UK on private land but are a common sight on roads and pavements.

Riders who take part in the trials need a valid driving licence, while the e-scooters have a maximum speed of 15.5mph.

Watch: Grant Shapps announces new cycling scheme