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.
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.