Bells and Horns on Bikes

Question

David asked: Are bikes required to have bells or horns. It only seems logical that they have either in order to warn pedestrians when approaching them, especially from the rear. I believe cars are required to have horns. If they are not required, how can I attempt to make it required by law?

Answer

Bells are not permitted on bicycles. Horns may be used but are not required for bicycles. See this post.

http://flbikelaw.org/2014/11/bells-on-bikes/

If you want to have influence on the laws, you should either contact your legislators directly or join the Florida Bicycle Association and work with their legislative agenda.

http://floridabicycle.org/

Posted in Ask Geo, Bicycle Equipment
3 comments on “Bells and Horns on Bikes
  1. fred says:

    I was pretty surprised to discover that law, many years ago and recognized that it applied to bicycles, which are, of course, vehicles. I can’t imagine a law enforcement officer writing a citation for the use of a bell, although the statute also applies to having one installed! Picture taking the citation to court and having the judge hearing the deposition of the citing officer. “He rang his bell, and I heard it.”

    My research into this citation discovered that in years gone by, fire engines and other emergency vehicles used bells to announce their passage. When is the last time anyone heard a bell from a fire truck or emergency vehicle? I think the last time I heard one was on an antique fire engine in a parade.

    It would make more sense to remove the restriction of bells on vehicles than it would to require a specific device.

  2. randall m tomlinson says:

    i’m surprised anyone would want to make it a law. you already have the choice and besides, bicycles are sold in the stores with horns and/or bells already installed. these devices are sold separately, too. where does it say a bicycle cannot have either on it? it does make sense to warn those you are approaching from behind, but, use discretion and common sense and not wait until you are so close you scare someone. also, as a bicyclist, it is your responsibility to slow down upon approaching pedestrians. some of you that get into your rhythm, traveling at a good clip, get annoyed at those that may hamper your efforts. if you are on a walk way or side walk, pedestrians have more right to be there than a cyclist, hence, what the “walk” way was designed for. i’m for bicycling, but, i get annoyed at those cyclists that push their way into problems and blame the motorist or pedestrian. it’s like the motorcyclist lane splitting, in which some places is legal, but, when something happens to them, it’s automatically the fault of the motorist. what they do is stupid and mental. i say, if they do things like that, then, if something happens to them in so doing, too bad.

  3. HarryB says:

    This seems to be one of those laws which, if applied literally, leads to an absurd result. Did the legislators really mean to forbid a person from using a bell on his or her bicycle? I suspect this is a case of sloppy legislation.

    Consider the rest of the relevant language of this statute:

    “Every authorized emergency vehicle shall be equipped with a siren, whistle, or bell capable of emitting sound audible under normal conditions from a distance of not less than 500 feet and of a type approved by the department, but such siren, whistle, or bell shall not be used except when the vehicle is operated in response to an emergency call or in the immediate pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law, in which event the driver of the vehicle shall sound the siren, whistle, or bell when reasonably necessary to warn pedestrians and other drivers of the approach thereof.” § 316.271(6)

    It seems clear to me that the legislators wanted “pedestrians and other drivers” to know that when they heard the ringing of said bell that they understood it as a warning signal from an authorized emergency vehicle—it was probably common technology at the time the statute was written.

    But, could anyone who hears the ringing of a bicycle’s bell mistake it for the warning bell of an emergency vehicle which is so loud that it can be heard from a distance of not less than 500 feet?

    I have a bell on each of my bicycles and I use them regularly on the shared-use paths I ride. Although I am well aware of this law, I doubt any court would find me guilty if I were cited for having bells on my bicycles.

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