Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ring my bell - Part 2

After last week's trip to Kingston and back made another trip, this time to Teddington lock and back (post of which in due course) and it was a good chance to try out those suggestions about how a biker should get the attention of absent minded pedestrians.

There was a majority vote in favour of singing but alas that is not a feasible option. Many years ago while at school I volunteered to join a group that was raising money for charity by singing Christmas carols. It was surprisingly popular, which might be down to a selfless wish to do good for the community, but more likely because it was a joint group with the local girl's school.

One practice session the choir master came and listened carefully to me singing, and afterwards took me to one side and asked whether I'd like to help out with the collecting. He was a wise man, an ex colonel with the British Army and had managed to take a group of us on a school trip round the Eastern Mediterranean without major incident, so I took his advice.

However the bell option is still not really working. For example after ringing it for a family of two adults and three small children, the parents seemed oblivious until their children started a chorus of "daddy, there's a bike".

Then it started to rain, which I hoped might clear the track, but alas British walkers are an all weather army that has been bred like the SAS on a diet of marmite sandwiches and tea, so soldiers on regardless.

My research, however, has identified one possible solution. The most effective form of alerting walkers was a polite but firm Jeeves like throat clearing "ah-hmm" noise, which even the most distracted walker seems to notice. Someone should manufacturer a bike bell that makes a sound like that!


O Docker said...

On a recent Top Gear, May rigged up his ersatz police car to play the chimes from an ice cream truck. That might work. But you could end up with a following of small children.

Carol Anne said...

Sounds like you and Pat could sing in the same choir. We joke that if he ever tried to sing karaoke, people would buy him beer to shut him up.

Not practical for a bicycle, but there are now devices that you can install in a car that make it sound like something else, such as a Harley or a Maserati, with speakers mounted underneath the vehicle. This device is connected to the car's engine computer, so it revs up and slows down exactly as the car does.

On a more primitive level, the year I lived in England, I was across the road from a pub, and I could always tell when it was closing time because two of the regulars had distinctive car horns that they blew as they left the car park. One played the opening line of "Dixie," while the other was a very realistic, drawn-out "Moo." Yeah, the Dukes of Hazzard in South Oxfordshire.

I wonder what would happen if you could get your bicycle to moo?

JP said...

The ice cream truck might be a winner as the kids were great at alerting the adults that a bike was there.

Of course they'll be a bit annoyed to find out there aren't actually any ice creams to reward them....

A moo it is then!

Carol Anne said...

I was people watching on Central Avenue last week across from the University, where one can expect to see a lot of characters, when I saw a chap ride by on what looked most definitely like a British postman's bike -- big and black and built like a tank. It had a gigantic bell mounted on the handlebars, at least six inches in diameter. I wonder whether a bell that size might get respect?

Of course, a good moo can attract attention, too ...

The O'Sheas said...

On your left.

Katinka said...

LOL, I'm not sure I should suggest it, but how about a long-range water pistol mounted to the handle bar? (for those parents with selective hearing loss).

By the by, apparently there's a kind of cell/mobile ring tone that only teens and kids can hear - the adult ear progressively looses the ability to detect high pitched frequencies. (

But if you do getting a mooing horn, can you please videotape this as it would provide several years worth of black-mail material, I'm sure! *mis. grn*

JP said...

Alas this humble scribe finds it hard enough to bike and go moo at the same time: adding a third task involving video recording alas would be asking for trouble.

One broken bone at a time!

Next time down under I could be bribed into doing a demo if sufficient ice cream were to hand ;)