I have a confession… I don’t ring my bell.

Well – At least, I don’t ring it nearly as often as I used to.

Along with a transition to a new office in a different part of town came an adjustment to the route of my commute. Now, instead of cutting through the heart of downtown amongst the traffic, I spend most of my time on Calgary’s pathway system. 

Now on the surface, this may seem like a perfect scenario, but the pathway system deals with a rush hour all to itself… Cyclists of every experience level, dog-walkers, runners, Tai Chi-ers, geese, ducks, squirrels and everything in-between.

Prior to my new routing my time on the pathway was somewhat fleeting and through a much less populous area. During this time I rang my bell religiously, merrily ‘ting-tinging’ my way to work. But if I were to ring my bell with that level of frequency along my new route I’d end up ringing my bell faster than I’m turning the pedals.

So I stopped.

Not entirely to be sure, but more conservatively, or perhaps even strategically. To be completely frank, my strategy is based mainly on stereotypes. If you “look” like you’re going to be predictable – I’ll just breeze by, but if I sense some unpredictability – I hit the bell. Generally, the following will trigger my bell finger:

  • Runners / walkers that are travelling two abreast (especially those talking to each other in an animated fashion)
  • Runners / walkers that are weaving around or gazing blithely at the view
  • Dog walkers
  • Cyclists traveling very slowly or weaving around
  • Families, or people with children
  • The accursed rollerblader (generally speaking they take up 1.25-1.75 lanes with their flailing limbs)

Now I’m sure that that’s not going to cover everybody that might appreciate a little ‘ringey tingey’ as I ride by, but for some reason I can’t justify firing off my bell like a machine gun for every passerby. Am I alone here? Am I a bad commuter?

What are your ‘ringing’ strategies?