Do You Legally Require a Bike Bell on Your Bicycle? (2022)

Sometimes laws are meant to protect us; sometimes, they’re just annoying and useless. Such might be the case with bicycle bells. So let’s answer the burning question: Is it illegal to ride a bike without a bicycle bell? And are bicycle bells legally required?

In this article, you will learn the basics of bicycle bell laws so you can ride safely and confidently.

In many states in the United States and the United Kingdom, riding a bicycle without a bell is legal. But in some countries, like Northern Ireland and Australia, it is against the law not to have a bike with a bell, and people who do not have one face harsh punishments.

Thumbnail for a blog post do you legally require a bike bell on your bicycle? (2022)
Thumbnail for A Blog Post Do You Legally Require a Bike Bell on Your Bicycle? (2022)

Are you legally required to have a bicycle bell?

Just as there is sometimes doubt about whether or not you need a bicycle helmet and whether or not they genuinely make your riding experience safer, there is also confusion about bicycle bells across the world. Here’s some bike bell legislation throughout the world.

Before proceeding, I strongly recommend you check with your local authorities before seeking legal advice from some fixie foo on the internet. Now, with that out of the way, here are the laws you should be aware of.

US bicycle bell laws

A bicycle bell is required by law in several US states, including New York, Georgia, New Jersey, and South Carolina. Not all states require bells, so check with your local departments. If you live in New York City, check out our guide to bike laws in NYC.

It should be noted that certain local governments may compel you to have a bell installed. For instance, in Ohio, the City of Dayton code requires bicycles to have a bell or other device capable of giving an audible signal that can be heard at least 100 feet away. So, check with your local municipality. 

If it turns out you do need a bike bell, check this classic beach cruiser bike bell. It’s for great reviews on Amazon.

UK bicycle bell laws

According to Highway Code Rule 66, cyclists must notify others of their whereabouts by “ringing your bell, if you have one. ” As a result, possessing or utilizing a bicycle bell is not an obligatory legal requirement in the UK. Nevertheless, bicyclists are advised to carry a bicycle bell, and all UK retailers are required to sell one. However, it is entirely up to you whether or not you use it.

Global bicycle bell laws

Whether you need to legally have a bicycle bell or not can vary across the globe, so it is essential to check the local regulations and your bicycle itself before cycling in a new country. Here are some of the countries that require you to have a bike bell installed.

  • Ireland
  • Germany
  • Holland
  • Australia
  • Northern 

This is not a complete list, and the rules about bicycle bells change all the time, so check the local laws before you ride.

If you need a new bike bell, check out some of the ones we have below (the brass ones are my favorite).

Should your bike be equipped with a bell?

Whether or not bikes should have bells is a matter of opinion unless you live somewhere in which it is a legal requirement. Arguably, using a bicycle bell is there to improve the safety of you, other cyclists, and pedestrians, and it is just a good idea to have one. As previously mentioned, Rule 66 of the UK Highway Code suggests that it is “recommended’ that a bicycle bell be fitted to make others aware of where you are on the road. 

Image of beach cruiser style handlebars with bike bell.
An image of a bike with beach cruiser style handlebars equipped with a bike bell. Source: Oleksii Khodakivskiy on Unsplash

Should you shout or use a bell to alert pedestrians?

Most bicycle bells are only loud enough to alert people in the immediate vicinity, not farther ahead. So, if you don’t have a bell, you could just yell, “Watch out!” right? Almost anyone can signal with their voice, and it works without lifting a hand from a brake lever. 

However, it can easily be misunderstood or carry an emotional or angry tone (for example, if the person you intend to alert feels like you’re “yelling” at them). For this reason, I strongly suggest using a bell and avoiding shouting at people. You never know who you’re talking to or who has a short fuse. Miscommunication is a stepping stone to violence. So do yourself a favor and communicate appropriately with a bike bell. 

Are bicycle bells rude?

We know yelling at people is undoubtedly rude, but can a bicycle bell be considered rude? Some people honk ear-splitting air horns at anyone who might be in their way. Scaring people is rude, yet an imminent threat may bring on a loud yell or scream, unprompted. It can sometimes freeze a charging dog or wayward pedestrian. We all want pedestrians to get out of our way, but don’t be rude. Your cycling behavior should never frighten slower path users as you go past them. 

If you are looking for a new bike bell that isn’t rude, watch this video called “Bicycle Bells: Shared Path Etiquette (and the law!)” from the Shane Miller YouTube Channel.

A video called “Bicycle Bells: Shared Path Etiquette (and the law!)” from the Shane Miller YouTube Channel.
Advertisements

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Below are some commonly asked questions regarding needing a bike bell.

Do you need to have a bell or horn on a bike in the US?

Some states require you to have a bell, while others don’t. And even in states that don’t require a bell, local municipalities may require them. So it’s essential to check with your local municipality to ensure you’re not breaking the law.

When should I ring my bike bell?

You should ring your bell whenever you need to grab someone’s attention. This can be for safety or precautionary reasons. If you have a bell, avoid yelling at someone. This can help prevent unwanted altercations.

Is it illegal not to have a bell on your bike?

A bell is an essential safety item. It is in the municipality’s best interest to require a bell on their bike so that pedestrians are warned of oncoming bike traffic. Therefore, some countries, like Australia, have strict laws and penalties for cyclists who do not have a belt on their bikes.

Conclusion

Pedestrians are annoying, but we can help make them less annoying by alerting them to our presence. If you have a bike, try to have a bell or horn on it. Depending on where you live, it might be the law.

In this article, we covered the basics of bicycle bell realities. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • Bicycle battles are not required in the UK, but you should still use them if you have one.
  • Some states in the United States require bells.
  • Even states that don’t require bells might have local governments that require them.
  • Try not to yell at someone to move out of the way. It may cause an unwanted altercation.

So, are you a fixed-gear rider who always uses the bell properly, or do you just yell at pedestrians to get out of your way? Let us know in the comments below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for more tips and tricks on everything fixie. Thanks for reading, and stay fixed.

Helpful resources

Image of silver bicycle bell on a bike handlebar. Pinterest
Image of silver bicycle bell on a bike handlebar. Pinterest
Bradley Knight Image
Written by Bradley Knight, Staff Writer

Hey there! My name is Bradley, and I've been riding fixed for years. I love all the joy and pain that comes with this unique style of cycling and the passionate community that drives it. If you love fixed-gear bikes, this is the place for you.

Jordan
Edited by Jordan May, Staff Editor

Jordan is a seasoned editor with over seven years of experience. His passion for writing and storytelling started when he was a teenager, spending countless hours reading books and creating his own stories.

Verified User Black 24dp

Fact-Checked

Every article undergoes a thorough evaluation process by our team of writers and editors who exclusively rely on reputable sources for their citations.

Event Available Black 24dp

Up-to-Date

We are committed to providing high-quality and up-to-date information to our readers. We frequently update our articles to reflect changes or advancements.

Leave a Comment

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Brooklyn Fixed Gear is your source for fixie, single-single-speed & track bike content. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions to regarding fixed-gear cycling.

What is a fixed-gear bike, and how is it different from a regular bike?

A fixed-gear bike, also known as a fixie, is a type of bike that has a fixed rear wheel, which means that the pedals are directly connected to the rear wheel. Unlike a regular bike, a fixed-gear bike has no freewheel, so you cannot coast or stop pedaling while riding. This means that you must constantly pedal while riding a fixed-gear bike, and you can slow down or stop the bike by resisting the pedals with your legs.

Why don't fixed-gear bikes have brakes

Fixed-gear bicycles, or "fixies," often do not have brakes due to their simplicity and minimalism, which allows riders to control speed through pedaling resistance. This brakeless design reduces the bike's weight, making it more maneuverable while connecting riders to the tradition and culture of track cycling. However, riding a fixed-gear bicycle without brakes can be dangerous, particularly in urban settings with traffic and unpredictable conditions, so many places require bicycles to have at least one functioning brake by law. It's a good idea to have at least a front brake installed for safety if you're considering riding a fixed-gear bike.

What are the benefits of riding a fixed-gear bike?

Some people prefer fixed-gear bikes because they are simpler and require less maintenance than bikes with multiple gears. Fixed-gear bikes also provide a more direct connection between the rider and the bike, which can make for a more responsive and enjoyable riding experience. Additionally, riding a fixed-gear bike can help improve your leg strength and pedal stroke.

Are fixed-gear bikes legal?

Fixed-gear bikes, also known as "fixies," are generally legal in most countries. However, local laws and regulations may require bicycles to have certain safety features, such as brakes, reflectors, or lights. For fixed-gear bikes, some jurisdictions require at least one functioning brake, typically a front brake, to be considered road-legal. It's essential to check the specific laws and regulations in your area to ensure your fixed-gear bike complies with local requirements. Keep in mind that riding without brakes or necessary safety features can be dangerous, and it's always a good idea to prioritize safety when cycling in any environment.