DaveP wrote: For pedestrians I prefer to bid them a cheery good morning from a convenient but non threatening distance. I dont have a problem with slowing down for the purpose, I just see it as my responsibility to set a civilised tone for the encounter. Thats in a towpath sort of setting. In town, I wouldnt waste my time ringing a bell to alert a pedestrian I'd go directly into accident avoidance mode.
Room for both really...
But I agree with you that a bell, as well as being audible also has the advantage of being identifiable. Ting! = bike somewhere.
A whistle, on the other hand, while very audible means exactly - anything or nothing. Really don't understand why some cyclists want to start using them
It rather depends on how many pedestrians there are likely to be. I regularly ride on a stretch of towpath where there are lots of people about. Most people don't need any warning when approaching from behind; they are aware of cyclists using the path. Others are distracted or have forgotten the possibility, and these need a tinkle from a bell. Speaking to them will generally do no good; they won't know it is a bike, someone else within earshot may respond (in an unpredictable fashion) and indeed the correct people may assume that someone else is being addressed and do nothing.
A bell is the thing that is most likely to be quickly and unequivocally identified by pedestrians as a cyclist. Until I started using such paths regularly , I didn't bother with having one, but I do now on my utility bike, and I miss it on my other bikes if I use such routes. I think it pays to have one that you can ring with varying vigour easily; a 'ping-ping' one is less good vs a 'dring- dring' one IME.
Obviously any bell (of presently available volume) is no good in busy traffic; maybe anything loud will do better here, so I can vaguely see the point of a whistle for riding in busy cities, even if you are likely to swallow the blessed thing or have it knock your teeth out in a prang.