Lords call for mandatory bells on bikes because of ‘aggressive and foul-mouthed cyclists’ 

During a debate in the House of Lords, some peers complained about the behaviour of cyclists 

(Image credit: ullstein bild via Getty Images)

A number of Lords have called for mandatory bells on bicycles because of “aggressive and foul-mouthed cyclists.”

During a debate in the House of Lords on Wednesday (April 29), Lord Touhig argued cyclists should not be allowed on the roads without bells.

The Labour peer said he was involved in a near miss with a rider who did not have a bell but shouted “ding ding” as he approached,  Yahoo News reports. (opens in new tab)

But the calls by the Lords to enforce mandatory bells for cyclists out on the roads were shut down by the government, with transport minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton reminding the house that all bikes were legally required to be sold with a bell, but enforcing their use was “disproportionate.” 

Lord Touhig 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.”

Conservative Lord Leigh of Hurley said “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?” while 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 he believed some cyclists preferred riding on pavements over cycle lanes, calling this “irresponsible.”

Shutting down the calls for mandatory bells, 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.”  

This isn’t the first time the Lords have called for tough and arguably impractical enforcement on cyclists. 

>>> Man fined after cycling on motorway while drunk ‘to see gran in hospital’ 

In 2019, Lords renewed discussions around introducing licences for cyclists because of “hoodlums in Lycra.” 

Talk of enforcing stricter rules for cyclists is not new, but have been the idea of registration for riders has been routinely dismissed by government due to the costs and complexity.  

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.