One of the first things I did when I bought my Dahon was to remove the unsightly (in my view) bell and reflectors. In my uneducated opinion, they were things of childhood, fitted only to satisfy some draconian EU type-approval law.
Then I watched that "War on Britain's Roads" documentary last week. Much has been posted about it on the Internet, including by me. However, one part which stuck with me vividly was where a cyclist riding along a footpath (or dual use path - it wasn't clear which) collided with a pedestrian who stepped out in front of him.
It was hard to say who was at fault. Both were heading in the same direction and as the cyclist moved to overtake the pedestrian and her friend, she suddenly stepped out across the path and was hit by the bike. The cyclist had no chance if avoiding her but she had absolutely no idea that he was approaching either.
It made me think about my own commute and the number of times I have to pass pedestrians and other cyclists on dual use paths. I do try to be considerate and make my way past safely, but most of the time they have no inkling that you are behind until you're close enough to touch them.
And so the other day, I refitted my small bell.
I have to say it has made a difference. I'm now able to alert others to my presence when overtaking or approaching a blind corner (as I have to a couple of times on my usual route). No one has yet taken offence either, although a polite "ting ting" followed by a cheery "Thank you!" are not really aggressive actions. I use my bell a lot now and it does make me wonder how close I came to an incident before I had it.
I doubt that when the "Project Fixie" road bike is complete (in about 2021 at the current rate of progress) it will have a bell as it for a different purpose than my Dahon. I'd say for commuting though that a bell is essential kit and I'll be keeping mine in place.