Lay Off the Horn

Emily   Dec 16, 2015

My neighbor honked at me tonight.

I'm not sure why - I was slowing down to ride my bike up into my driveway. It is a sharp right turn with a steep little lift that I have to slow for if I don't want to dump my bike.

And she honked. Twice.

Which makes me wonder: do drivers realize how their honking feels to someone on a bike? I see your headlights behind me. I know I am illuminated by them. I know my back light is blinking merrily like a gleeful little Christmas light...or like landing lights on an aircraft carrier (you pick). I am watching the road ahead - drivers, potholes, branches, leaves, deep-set sewer drains, and the like are out in front of me, ready to pounce in a moment of inattention. I have to be focused.

And yet, there you are, and you honk.

My focus shatters. My steady rhythm falters. If I don't recover fast enough, I risk going down. (If I go down, it's because you have caused me to crash. You need to stop, make sure I'm okay and be prepared to pay for any damage or injury I've sustained.)

And I have no idea what your honk means.

Are you saying hello?
Are you angry with me for being on the road?
Are you just wanting me to know you are there and that you are passing?
Are you about to hit me?

I don't have any idea what your honk means.

Unless you are about to hit me, please don't honk. In fact, honking other than to say something like, "I am about to hit you and my brakes aren't working," is illegal. So stop doing it. Find some other way to vent any pent up frustration you may have about your crummy day. Mutter into your steering wheel. Squeeze it really hard. Say unkind words to your dog (but not in front of your kids). Ride a bike instead of driving a car. But don't honk at me. I'm not doing anything to you.

My neighbor got out of her car while I was trying to get my front door open (my key sticks in the lock). She was apologizing and muttering something about turning. I don't know what she was saying (I couldn't understand her mumbling). I waved and said, "It's okay!" but would have preferred to say other things, things like, "What were you thinking?!"

It was almost an hour ago, and the adrenaline that surged through my body in that moment, when I was turning into my driveway, as I was arriving at my home, is still there.

I have no idea what your honking means.

Are you saying hello? Don't. Tell me you saw me later.
Are you angry with me for being on the road? Stop it. I'm just trying to get home from work too; I'm not doing anything to you. Your bad day is not my fault.
Are you just wanting me to know you are there and that you are passing? I can see your headlights; I can hear you. Please don't honk and make me think something is wrong.
Are you about to hit me? A little warning would be kind of nice...

Otherwise, lay off the horn.

cycling


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