In NYC, and other urban cities, there are restrictions and fines in certain areas for honking vehicle horns. Noise pollution is real. Added to that, some vehicle owners who feel they don’t get enough honk volume for their efforts have customized horns to be louder than normal. Many truck horns are as piercing as boat horns. The good thing is that car makers are toning down the decibel levels below what they were. Still, horns can be painfully loud.
We know horns are necessary. No one would want to drive or ride without one. They are a communication device. Even bicycle horns, or bells, are useful. In fact, bicycles are required by law to have horns or bells in NYC. A little “ping” to give someone a heads up makes a lot of safe sense.
But car and truck horns are the noise makers. Like the person who talks just to talk but doesn’t say much, car horns are used more frequently than necessary.
We honk for lots different reasons,…like:
- the obvious ‘letting you know I’m here so don’t run into me’ honk
- the ‘look out you are about to hit me’ honk
- the ‘get out of my way’ honk
- the ‘get your ass moving’ honk
- the ‘hi, good seeing you’ honk
- the ‘hey, look at me’ honk
- the “want a ride’ honk
- the ‘I’m outside waiting for you honk’
- the ‘hurry up’ honk
- the ‘hey baby you are hot’ honk
- the ‘traffic is stopped and I’m frustrated I’m not moving’ honk
- the ‘good bye’ honk
Point is, there are lots of honk types, and some make sense while others are noise pollution.
In a larger city, honk noise is expected. But in lesser dense areas, honks have more of an impact, and usually evokes a response by the honkee.
If you are the recipient of what you consider an unjustified honk, you might react and respond accordingly. It may be a ‘honk back’ if you are in another car. An unreasonable honk might even bring out the middle finger response. Rarely does the honkee go unfazed.
In the city where I’m currently living, honks have taken on an whole new meaning. Most of them are either the ‘get out of my way’ honk or the ‘look out I’m driving like a moron’ honk. And the horns are high decibel and liberally used. It’s not like Honduras, for example, where there is an almost constant light tapping of horns to avoid fender benders. Here, car horns are for blaring. You could be a pedestrian, a cyclist, or another car in motion to move out from another vehicles’s way, but that won’t stop the driver from blaring their horn at you. The difference here is, there is no reaction by the honkee. It’s normal and the honkee is not fazed. Here, if you are bothered as a honkee, then it’s your problem, because there was no mal-intent. And where turning into oncoming traffic is normal, honking becomes natural.
Even many e-bike riders lay on their horns more than they need to. The dinky little bell on my bicycle doesn’t do much good except when riding at a crawl, so that I can warn the errant child or old folk to move off the portion of the sidewalk I’m riding least I run them over. Of course I wouldn’t be so indelicate, but I’m in the clear minority.
Still, living in such a honky culture has opened my tolerance boundaries. I try to ride responsibly and avoid getting honked, but it’s inevitable. Being a honkee is no big deal. I’m becoming unfazed. As long as the honkin culture doesn’t rub off, I won’t get into any trouble returning to where honks have more specific meanings.
P.S. Due to a bout of slothfulness last weekend which resulted in a missed post, this will be a two post weekend.