To honk or not to honk? That is the question.

I roll out of the driveway onto the street. Like every other day. Except its not like every other day. Today I have a 125 decibel horn strapped to the stem of my bicycle. That’s the equivalent of a car horn, in case you’re wondering. Oh how I am tempted to push that button. But no. Be responsible. You bought this not to be a menace, but to save your life.

Four minutes into my ride and I reach the notorious Scholey Street bridge in Mayfield. We call it the Bridge of Khazad Dum (you know, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”, thanks Gandalf). Suffice to say your best bet is to command the lane or find a detour. Even so, usually I stick to the left. I reach the crest of the bridge. It is is about 7am in the morning. I hear a vehicle coming up the bridge behind me. I continue on. Surprise! The car attempts to overtake me… are you f&%$ing kidding me? An outright dangerous move, given the bridge is a series of blindspots. The strange thing is, I’m travelling the same speed as the car anyway, and I continue to do so. Determined to overtake, the person in the car decides to move toward me to avoid travelling on the other side of the road for half the length of the bridge.

No, no, no, I will have none of this.

It’s time. I press the button. An impossible sound erupts from my bicycle frame.

The person in the car looks around widely, as if in search for another vehicle. Then it clicks. They look at me. I give them a wave.  The car speeds off, as if embarrassed. I pat my horn.

Scholey St Bridge
Scholey Street Bridge AKA The Bridge of Khazad Dum is soon to be upgraded.

That was about 6 months ago.  And it was not a one-off. It was a very similar encounter on that same bridge where a vehicle came within an inch of me, twice cutting me off, which left me furiously ringing my bell and shouting. That incident led me to investigate the merits of a horn–a real horn–for my bike. Of course, I have experienced many other close encounters but that stuck in my memory. Whats more, it made me mad. Really mad.

But with a super loud horn, would I myself be enticing road rage? Was it that some people just didn’t see me and the sound of a car horn would make them look? Would it make car drivers think twice in future?

Whatever the answer, whatever the repercussions, I had to try it. After all, people on bikes have every right to be on the road. Using this one-liner from Transport NSW, I convinced myself there were no legal issues (tell me if you know otherwise, I did try a web search). And you know what? Since I strapped my Loud Bicycle Horn to my bike, I haven’t looked back.

The number of times I have legitimately used it is simply astounding. Walking my bike across a pedestrian crossing, cars that don’t stop–BLAST ‘EM. Going straight, car turns left and cuts me off–BLAST ‘EM. Car door flings open–BLAST ‘EM. Car passes and blasts their horn for no reason whatsoever–BLAST ‘EM BACK.  People want to intimidate me? I’ll give them something they’re not expecting.

Does it work? To be honest, I’m not sure I can say it has saved my life as such. But heck, it sure is satisfying. More importantly, it gives me a way to express my frustration when people in vehicles do downright dangerous things. On a technical note, I haven’t had to recharge the 8 hour battery once in 6 months. Will it help the cause of people on bikes? I can’t answer that. Would I rather live in a society where we didn’t need horns on bikes? Absolutely. Until such time public opinion can sway me to dismantle my horn, I’ll keep on blastin’.  So go on, tell me what you think.

7 thoughts on “To honk or not to honk? That is the question.

  1. I’m moving to Newcastle from Norway in January next year, and this blog has inspired me to give “this bicycle life” a go. At first I thought about buying a car because I’ve heard that the uni is a little far away from the beaches and the city. But now I’m starting to change my mind. I feel like walking and biking are the best ways to explore a new city. Can you recommend any bike shops in the Newcastle area that sell bikes similar to the one in the “Saturday morning #quaxing” post? Also, I really love the helmet. May I ask where it’s from?

    Lots of love from Norway!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bella! That is so amazing you’re moving from Norway! We hope to visit Norway next year. Do you plan on living near the Uni? You can get between town and the Uni by bike, but there are a couple of sections of the route that are a bit dodgy. Happy to provide some more info, email thisbicyclelife@gmail.com or post a question to Newcastle Cycleways Movement Facebook page. Ultimately biking in Newcastle is pretty easy going. Check out Metro Cycles in town on Bellevue Street, Wickham, (and Bank Espresso next door) or Omega Cycles in Broadmeadow. The helmet is a “Lazer” “Cityzen”. Cheers, Tom & Angela

      Like

      1. Thanks for the reply! I’ll live there for four years, so I’m thinking about living on campus the first year and then moving closer to the city/beaches after that. What do you mean by “dodgy”? Are some of the streets dangerous?

        Unfortunately, I don’t have a Facebook profile, so it won’t be possible for me to post a question there. Also, do you have any tips on how to carry groceries on a bicycle? Again: thank you so much!

        Like

  2. That would definitely have assisted my cause the time I was stuck behind a car at a school crossing because the driver was too busy checking her phone to notice the crossing had been clear for about a minute.

    Unfortunately, we still live in car-dominated societies, so anything that helps drivers remember they’re meant to be sharing the road is surely a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have had an airzound for a few years now. It gets used quite a bit. The thing is though the most common reaction is for the car you just beeped because they were about to cut you off accelerates rather than stopping, or they look around for the semi trailer that just beeped them.

    Liked by 1 person

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