At one time considered to be blasphemous by cyclists, the bike bell is an utter necessity to any city where the bicycle is worth a damn. 

There is little reason to have one if racing along county roads. But for riding within the city, there is a purpose to having a bell. In some places it’s even required by law. For good reason too because it’s the best way to alert people.  

This is especially true in Amsterdam, where not having one can get you clogged up in traffic with other bicyclists. The problem will only become compounded in the center of town where a constant mass migration of tourists who sheepishly walk in middle of the street and on bike paths. 

There is also a habit among the Dutch who will politely whistle a tune to alert someone of their presence. While I would like to embrace this pleasant quirk, the fact is I can’t whistle. At best, I can make a sound resembling that of an annoyed rattlesnake. Though I would put this on par with someone blurting out “On your left!” which won’t always produce kind reactions from strangers. So it would seem the simple ping from a bell is the most conventional and civil means of communication. 

In effort to honour the bicycle bell, I photographed a collection in Amsterdam. The accessory comes in different materials, styles and sounds. This made me think of fuzzy dice hanging from a rear view mirror in a car. It’s a way to personalize your ride while still providing a most useful purpose when riding a bike.

Bells of Amsterdam

The Starting lineup

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