Cyclists may be forced to ring their bells

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The Independent Online

Cyclists in busy urban areas may have to sound a bell almost continually as they cycle along under government plans to force them not only to have bicycle bells fitted, but to use them to warn pedestrians of their approach.

Although existing legislation makes bells a mandatory part of any new bike sold, people can remove them or choose not to use them. Under the proposals, cyclists would have to ensure their bikes carried working bells and would have to ring them every time they saw a pedestrian. Refusal to obey would be subject to on-the-spot fines or, in a worst-case scenario, two years in jail or a £2,500 fine.

Opponents of the plans accuse the government of a nanny state mentality. Graeme Obree, a world record-holding cyclist, called the proposal a "pointless exercise in red tape" and described the idea as "crazy". But officials have defended the plans, saying they are preparing for new rulings on cycling from the European Union later this year.

In a statement given to Parliament, Transport minister Stephen Ladyman pledged to hold a public consultation on the issue, saying "[this is] a sensible moment to review our current policies". Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, is also said to be thinking about making cyclists carry number-plates.

The moves come amid concerns over accidents caused by cyclists and cases of people going through red lights or riding on pavements, according to today's Sunday Telegraph. A dozen pedestrians have died in collisions with cyclists in the past five years, while 148 cyclists died on the roads last year alone - the highest total for six years.