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Beware of bell.

Tonight is my last night living south Novi, close to downtown Northville, which I love riding my bike down to. As it’s my last night, and a magnificent night, I thought I’d take one last bike ride to downtown Northville. I was thoroughly enjoying the mild wind, the people sipping coffees outside cafes and people leaving restaurants carrying leftover boxes.

I’ll interrupt with an important note: I got this bell in Amsterdam:

and I’ve only recently put it on my bike. Naturally, a biker would use this to inform a pedestrian that a bike is coming. But no metro Detroit city I’ve been to is used to bikers. People here jump out of their skins when they  hear this noise:

I frightened a poor older woman today, leaving a restaurant with her husband. They were leisurely strolling up the sidewalk in front of me. I was going so slowly behind them, that I was practically walking my bike, but I couldn’t get around, so I did what any biker with a bell would do – rung the bell.

She was startled and asked me if I should be on the sidewalk or not. Honestly, there’s no room in the street in downtown Northville – the cars barely have room to squeeze by. She was polite to me, but still annoyed with me.

At first I was a little ticked that she’d put a dent in my nice night and good mood, and sorry that I’d done the same for her.

But then I thought, it IS up to me, as the biker, to make sure I don’t inconvenience any pedestrian; not to frighten them, even if they’re in no danger of being hit, because they still think they are, when a biker comes near. It didn’t matter that I was practically inching along the sidewalk – they hear the bell, see the bike, and freak out. “Should I move to the left or right? Or stay where I am? Should I even turn around?”

I have two morals to this story:
1) Be courteous to walking pedestrians when on my bike. They’re comfort comes before my comfort.
2) DON’T ring the bell! Instead, shout, “bike on your left,” which is easier for them to determine how far you are behind them, how fast you’re going, in which direction you’ll skirting around them, and also how kindly you ask. People are much less scared this way, and very appreciative.

Oh, and moral 3) If you don’t like the bike bell sound either – don’t go to Amsterdam!

Yeah, that’s a kid in the front cart.

Bike racks in a residential area. wowzers.

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