Bikes with bell attached law to be scrapped after DfT Red Tape Challenge

Other cycling rules to be reviewed include those relating to racing on the road, e-bikes and cycle paths

by Simon_MacMichael   December 19, 2011  

Bell on handlebars

A requirement for all new bikes to be fitted with a bell before they leave the shop is one of 142 transport-related regulations likely to be scrapped by the Department for Transport (DfT) in response to a ‘Red Tape Challenge’ launched in May.

Other issues relating to cycling that have been reviewed include a shake-up of regulations relating to racing on the highway, and simplification of ones relating to cycle tracks, and potentially allowing more powerful e-bikes to be sold,.

The requirement to fit a bell at point of sale, or include it within the packaging of a bike sold online or by mail order, was never accompanied by rules stipulating that bicycles had to have them equipped once on the road, and many a bell is simply discarded by owners as soon as they got their new ride. In fact, sometimes a bell is simply bunged in the bike box and never makes it out.

Many of the proposed amendments are what can be best described as a work in progress, with further discussion and consultation required before they are officially removed or amended, but the DfT has published a list of the issues identified as part of the Red Tape Challenge, including many that relate to motoring, together with suggested actions, where applicable.

Among those relating to cycling due to be modified are the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle Regulations 1983, with an increased power output of 250W allowed.

The DfT also says that the Cycle Racing on the Highways Regulations 1960, which regulates racing and time trialling on the roads, will also be revised following consultation with British Cycling and police forces.

The Cycle Track Regulations 1984, governing the conversion of footpaths (not to be confused with footways – in common parlance, pavements) will also be scrapped, which the DfT maintains will “allow for more local flexibility to introduce
cycle paths.”

The DfT adds that it expects to remove that requirement contained in the Pedal Bicycles (Safety) Regulations 2010 and for bikes to be sold with a bell, and other rules including those relating to lights and reflectors plus the Pedal Cycles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1983 will also be reviewed.

One other piece of legislation relating to cycling that will be removed from the statute books for obvious reasons is the Cycle Racing on the Highway (Tour de France 1994) Regulations 1994.

When news of the drive to reduce bureaucracy was announced in May, trade website BikeBiz pointed out that while the public transport sector and motoring organisations were represented on the expert panel that advised the DfT on which regulations should be consigned to the scrapheap, no cycling bodies featured.

Ian Austin MP, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, raised the issue in parliament and subsequently, roads minister Mike Penning invited British Cycling, CTC and the Bicycle Association of Great Britain to participate on the expert panel.

In its detailed response to the initial consultation in which it outlined a number of issues it believes need addressing, national cyclists’ organisation CTC said that “Although regulation is often vital to ensure the safe and equitable operation of the road network, in other cases regulation is harmful to the promotion of cycling.”

It added that it “is pleased to see that they have agreed with several of the points we raised,” but said it “wants to see the lighting aspects of [the Pedal Bicycles (Safety) Regulations] aligned with the Lighting Regulations.”

CTC concluded by saying: “Most importantly, the Government have agreed to simplify the Cycle Tracks Regulations which have proved far too bureaucratic. Simplifying these would make it easier for local authorities to turn suitable footpaths into cycle tracks.”

20 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

If we need to fit bells to road bikes, then a bit more thinking is required - currently, if you have a bell on a pair of dropped bars, it would typically be on the tops near the stem - about as far as possible from the brakes, which I would want very close to hand in the same situations where it would be appropriate to ring the bell.

Anyone for DI2 shifters with an integrated bell?!

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3376 posts]
19th December 2011 - 12:51


Good news.

Hopefully now the CTC can get some other red tape on its list scrapped:
The need to enter ASLs by an entry lane (missing on most ASLs I pass).
The need for reflectors on pedals.
Getting rid of the misused "Cyclists Dismount" sign.

posted by thereverent [312 posts]
19th December 2011 - 13:23


I think the need to enter the ASL by an entry lane is a by product of the rule that you mustn't cross the solid white line until the lights change.

Having said that, '+1' for all thereverent's ideas!

timlennon's picture

posted by timlennon [229 posts]
19th December 2011 - 13:44



posted by bikingscot [45 posts]
19th December 2011 - 14:31


ASL - Advance(d?) Stop Line, referring to the bike boxes at some traffic lights.

I'd understood that the need to enter the ASL through the entry lane was already going to be scrapped. Thought I'd read that on here, but maybe it was somewhere else...

EDIT: here you go -

posted by step-hent [696 posts]
19th December 2011 - 15:01


Scrap the bell? - then how do we warn pedestrians of our presence?? A shout is rude I think. I have my bell by the hood of my rear brake. No worries of getting to it. If I have to stop suddenly the bell ceases to be an option. Trying to figure out when it became uncool to have a bell!!
I agree with some of the other red tape being sorted. Better guidence regards lights is good as is sorting out road racing and cycle tracks. Looks promising and offers a few interesting threads.

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1060 posts]
19th December 2011 - 20:57


I tend to either whistle "trumpet voluntary" or I call out "Ding Ding", this usually gets a smile and/or a laugh.

posted by Actium [39 posts]
19th December 2011 - 21:27


We just got one of these sent in:

holy cow it's loud

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7457 posts]
19th December 2011 - 22:54


Maybe I'm just cynical, but to me this sounds like some one trying to shave off more of the cost of making a bike, and then charging for the non existant bell anyway.

Having seen bike shops across Europe, it amazes me how in the UK we have to buy bikes that don't come with lights and mudguards fitted. These I think in most of Europe are mandatory.

I enjoy having a bell. I've a big brass one which is great for letting people on shared facilities know that there's a bike approaching. I've also got an airzound too. That's great to let car drivers know you're around.

posted by rokapotamus [19 posts]
20th December 2011 - 8:06


My wife's bike is the only one in the family fleet with a bell. There were bells fitted to the BMXs my kids have but these had to be removed for competition requirements. I think we still have a couple in the cellar somewhere. I tend to shout "ding ding" as well and it can get a laugh - works too.


posted by OldRidgeback [2269 posts]
20th December 2011 - 9:02


I've a very nice classic metal brrring bell, yet when I bought a new bike, I was given an far inferior plasticky one. So that's gone. Losing the requirement for bells on bikes when sold will mainly hurt makers of cheap rubbish bells and I won't mourn it.

I'm suprised that the similar pedal reflectors rule doesn't seem to be on the list. The effect of that rule is bikes sold without pedals, which is daft and a nuisance.

posted by a.jumper [715 posts]
20th December 2011 - 9:18


I've bought two new bikes in the last 2 years and neither of them came with a bell.
Shall I call the police? Thinking

posted by ludders [28 posts]
20th December 2011 - 10:40


My favourite was a sleek triathlon machine in Evans with a bell on it.

mr-andrew's picture

posted by mr-andrew [299 posts]
20th December 2011 - 11:55


For racing rules I believe all Tour de France bikes and in fact all road racing cycles should have to be equipped with a front basket. This should be made of basketwork material or thin gauge wire and be installed with the purpose of reducing impact loads and increasing rider safety in the event of a front end crash. It could also be used to carry plastic water bottles, an inner tube or two and a puncture repair kit.

You may scoff.

However I believe the wire basket fitted to my wife's Specialised saved her from injury when a foreign woman stepped from behind a bus looking the wrong way - it probably saved the woman from a broken hip too.


posted by OldRidgeback [2269 posts]
20th December 2011 - 14:45


Can we have the hornit as a competition prize then? It's probably only a bit scarier than the shock I had at the price!

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [291 posts]
20th December 2011 - 20:46


I could not imagine riding around without a bell in urban areas and on shared paths. Personally they should bolster the regulations for bells making it a requirement that they are fitted and to a certain quality on all new bikes.

posted by elstado [17 posts]
21st December 2011 - 8:53


elstado wrote:
Personally they should bolster the regulations for bells making it a requirement that they are fitted and to a certain quality on all new bikes.

Surely most people have a bell they like and can just transfer it to a new bike? So why fiddle around with this daft retail-time regulation? If you're really keen that there's some law, it would be better to have one that said bikes on roads/tracks had to have some decent noise-maker.

posted by a.jumper [715 posts]
21st December 2011 - 11:02


I feel rather worried about this deregulation of footpath usage there are allready far too many unsuitable "cycle paths" (pavements)in my area which have obviously been put in by a car orientated person in the local council planning dept.


posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [597 posts]
21st December 2011 - 20:43


I feel rather worried about this deregulation of footpath usage there are allready far too many unsuitable "cycle paths" [...]

Yeah, but the regulations didn't prevent creation of such Facilities Of The Month and - in a few cases - the costs of the various TROs and whatever have prevented fixing them. In at least one local case, I think the signs were changed to reflect the silly mistake (mopeds allowed, which is just dangerous), rather than issue a new TRO - I avoid that track now.

So, on balance, I feel that removing that regulation will probably help improve things.

posted by a.jumper [715 posts]
22nd December 2011 - 11:01


I never would have expected so much love shown for bells in the comments!
Not requiring all bike to be sold with a bell doesn't mean you can't fit and use one if you want.

rokapotamus wrote:
Having seen bike shops across Europe, it amazes me how in the UK we have to buy bikes that don't come with lights and mudguards fitted. These I think in most of Europe are mandatory.

We would just be charged the extra for them despite if we wanted the type sold with the bike or not. It would be pointless to include time-trial/triathlon bike to have these fitted for instance.

posted by thereverent [312 posts]
22nd December 2011 - 17:13