Trail Bells and Etiquette

Our goal is for everyone to be able to ride bicycles on the wide range of trails in San Francisco.

Make some noise!

Access to SF’s multi-use trails means sharing trails with others. Hikers and equestrians and even cute puppies have the right of way. Always ride in control and be prepared to yield.


Riding with a trail bell alerts other trails users a bicycle (or a really fast cow) is approaching. Often, with the extra warning, other trail users will concede their right of way and make it easier for you to pass. When they do make sure you thank them as they are doing you a huge favor. Regardless, it’s also always great to say “thanks!”. Good trail etiquette helps us keep and gain new trail access. Ride safe!

How can I get a trail bell?

We now have something even better than the ‘cow bells’ pictured here: TIMBER Mountain Bike Bells, which have a mute mode. This is the best of both worlds–you can announce your presence on the trails, and remain quiet when passing through neighborhoods.

Many of the best shops in San Francisco are carrying the SF Urban Riders branded Timber Bell. They include:

If your shop isn’t listed here, ask them! You can also contact us via our Facebook page or if you’d like to distribute them or get one directly from us.

Alternately, if you donate $40 or more you can proudly sport one of the SFUR Timber bells! Be sure to drop us a note after you donate saying that you want a bell and we’ll get one to you.

Bell Boxes

In March 2019, SF Urban Riders installed a bell box just outside San Francisco, in Moss Beach in the Ember Ridge Equestrian Center at the base of the Spine Trail. You can borrow a bell at the bottom, do an out and back, and drop it off on return. This is a great way to try out a bell without any commitment. Thanks to GGNRA Volunteer Jim Sullivan for helping organize this, and to Ember Ridge for hosting the box.

Bell Box at Ember Ridge

The installation prompted positive feedback from local users of all types. Here’s what local rider Tina recalled:
Some years ago I would ride my horse on Montara Mountain weeknight evenings and would encounter a group of of bikers from Pacifica on Wednesday nights coming down the hill that I was ascending.
Those guys were *terrific*.
They would be blinging bells *long* before they could see me ♡
I packed horse treats in my pack that they could offer to my horse when our paths crossed.
My horse could hear those bells long before I could…
I knew well in advance when they were coming down the mountain because my horse wanted to hustle to meet the bikers!
I miss those rides ♡

There are also two bell boxes on Mt Sutro: One at the very top of the hill, and one at the Clarendon Trailhead. Try one when you’re next there!

More about Trail Etiquette

IMBA developed the “Rules of the Trail” to promote responsible and courteous conduct on shared-use trails.