July 16, 2009

You don't have to toot....

After my ride into work today, I thought I might provide a brief lesson on the use of car horns and cyclists. I am a safe and defensive rider, who has logged thousands of miles, and it still startles me when a driver beeps at me. My first reaction is always, “What danger am I missing?” (the words are usually more like WTF but the thought is still about avoiding the possible hazard).

I have put together a few quick tips for using your horn while sharing the road with cyclists:

1. Do not beep to let us know you are there. I am riding in the street for God’s sake! I expect there to be cars around me. And pedestrians, and city buses, and people on the cell phone who open their car doors to let their toddler climb out of the car right in front of me. I know you are there.

2. Do not beep to encourage us. Although I appreciate the thought, I won’t acknowledge you anyway, because as soon as I turn around to say thanks I will be sucked up by a pothole the size of the Grand Canyon. If you really want to encourage me, just hold your Starbucks out the window for me to grab on the way by.

3. Do not beep because we are in your way. Because I am not in your way. I am supposed to be riding on the road (not on the sidewalk). There is only so far to the right I can ride – have you looked at the side of the road? On a normal day I'm navigating broken glass, fender parts, and road kill - and that's in the bike lane.

And, if you make me really angry you leave me no choice but to ride even s-l-o-w-e-r. So if you are feeling a little horny as you pass the next cyclist, do what you need to do - but please don't beep at us....

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