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Bell no! Swiss bicycles no longer required to have bells

Four young women go out for a bike ride in 1944

(Keystone/Photopress/Walter Studer))

Law? What law? Switzerland has struck down a bicycle law requiring the use of a bell – a regulation that few people knew about in the first place.

It is no longer obligatory for all bicycles to be fitted with bells. For years, the nation’s many bike lovers had to attach a bell for safety reasons – to add to the likelihood of avoiding a run-in with a car. The penalty for not doing so: CHF20 ($20).

All bikes weighing more than 11 kilogrammes had to have a bell, but many of today’s bicycles now weigh less than 11 kg because of new materials used in the frames. This is why the rule was abolished.

“Technological development continues and old regulations become superfluous,” Thomas Rohrbach, spokesman for the Federal Roads Officeexternal link, told the NZZ newspaperexternal link on Friday.

“But you can of course continue to use a bicycle bell,” he said.

Loud enough

The new law on bells came into force on January 15, 2017, However, few noticed the change, which was decided on by the Swiss cabinet in its meeting on November 16, 2016, the Aargauer Zeitungexternal link and several other media outlets have reported. Indeed, the official documentexternal link merely notes that Article 218 was dropped.

The discarded law – which fell under the regulations on the technical requirements for road vehicles – had required cyclists to have a bell on their bike “that can be heard”.

Not everyone thinks doing away with the requirement was a good thing. The bells were another safety device, according to Christoph Merkli, secretary general of the national advocacy group Pro Velo Switzerlandexternal link.

"It is simply necessary to get safely through the traffic," he told the Aargauer Zeitung.

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