I never really understood why Anita Ward would be so excited about ringing her bell. Until today. After months of flagrantly violating Toronto's bicycle bell law (with a max fine of $90!), I broke down and bought a little dinger for my faithful steed. Not so much because I think it's a vital piece of safety equipment, but I was starting to feel quite guilty for startling pedestrians with shouts of "Cyclist on your left!" and "You're on the wrong side of the path, troglodyte frogspawn!"
And oh, what a difference the bell makes. Years of subtle conditioning have trained TO pedestrians to fairly leap out of the way as soon as they hear the telltale ring. Schoolchildren scatter like seeds in the wind. Old women and their dogs cower in fear. And dead-eyed Bay Street types spill their lattes on their $4000 suits, and I laugh. I can't believe I didn't get a bell sooner.
Looking into this phenomenon on the interwebs, I discovered this video:
Turns out, you don't even need a bike to harness the awesome power of the bell. I'm going to start carrying one everywhere.