The Conservative government has rejected calls for cyclists to be required by law to fit and use a bell when riding a bicycle.
The Department for Transport replied to questioning from Labour's shadow cabinet on the issue, saying although recommended, the government has no plans to make bell usage mandatory.
Labour MP for Putney, in west London, Fleur Anderson raised the issue with the Department for Transport, with the Shadow Minister asking: "What assessment he [Transport Minister Grant Shapps] has made of the potential merits of requiring all bicycles to include a bell?"
In reply, Trudy Harrison, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary rejected the idea on behalf of the government.
"Rule 66 of The Highway Code recommends that bells are fitted to cycles, and that people who cycle should always be considerate of other road users, including by calling out or ringing their bell if they have one," she replied.
"All cycles are required at point of sale to be fitted with a bell, but we do not intend to legislate to make the use of bells on cycles mandatory, as there are other ways for people who cycle to warn other road users of their presence."
As per the relevant Rule 66 of the Highway Code:
[Cyclists] should be be considerate of other road users, particularly blind and partially sighted pedestrians, and horse riders (see Rule H1). Let them know you are there when necessary, for example, by calling out or ringing your bell if you have one. It is recommended that a bell be fitted.
It is not the first time the issue of mandatory bells has been raised in Parliament. In 2018, Conservative MP for New Forest East, Julian Lewis, called for legislation, saying all cyclists should be obliged to have a bell fitted to their bike.
Lewis accused riders of putting pedestrians at risk "because they can't be bothered to fit a bell".
"Speeding cyclists on rural roads in the New Forest are putting residents and other pedestrians at risk, simply because they cannot be bothered to fit a bell on their bikes so that they can warn pedestrians of their approach," Lewis told the House.
At the time, then Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, offered a similar answer to this week's response, suggesting while bells are recommended, "we have no plans to make bells compulsory as this would be difficult to enforce."
Lewis described the reply as "insipid" and asked for a statement from the government so that his constituents could "go about their business without fear of being mown down by silent road cyclists?"
After a subsequent 2018 debate in the House of Lords was hijacked by a query about how pedestrians can feel safe when cyclists refuse to "equip their machine with a bell", solicitor Mark Hambleton penned an opinion piece for road.cc in which he questioned if they really are the right solution.
What do you reckon? Are bells really necessary? Do you have one on your bike or is a simple shout good enough for alerting others?
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.