Hey, drivers. Here's a helpful flowchart if you're ever wondering if you should honk as you approach a cyclist. pic.twitter.com/nJ9jqLNVjsAlthough, to be fair, I don't think I run into many drivers who do. I haven't even heard the vague and faint "friendly tap on the horn to alert them to your presence" argument in years. Maybe that's just Canada, or Ontario, or Ottawa. I don't remember it being mentioned in my drivers ed class way back when (though, really, I don't remember any advice at all regarding cyclists in my drivers ed class). But someone in the responses to this tweet did:
— Bike Lobby (@BicycleLobby) November 24, 2014
@BicycleLobby When I took my NYC driving test maybe 8 years ago, the DMV test administrator ordered me outright to honk at a cyclist.So apparently the misconception is still out there. I think I was honked at the other day for being in the left turn lane, but it was a quiet honk. Maybe that was a driver "letting me know" they were there. Though I'd already turned around on the saddle, while waiting for the advance green, to look back, so they should have known I knew they were there. (I'm a big believer that eye contact and seeing a cyclist's face goes a long way toward humanizing us in the eyes of drivers, so I do it when I can.)
— Keith Snyder (@noteon) November 24, 2014
Drivers, I gotta tell you: if you think that you're drifting up quietly behind us, more lightly than the zephyrs of spring, and we have no idea you're there. . . you're wrong. We know you're there. Most of us - with the exception of the hearing impaired, I guess - have been listening to you with half our concentration for the last couple hundred metres, and we're trying to calculate based on the sound of your engine how big your vehicle is, how fast you're going, and how much of an asshole you're likely to be. (We can also hear - and hate it - when there are two of you rolling up behind us side by side, incidentally.) So yes, the horn is pointless. And honking will almost always be read as aggressive by cyclists. It will also startle them, which is hazardous. So don't.
The best things you can do?
Give us lots of space. If you have a free lane on your left, what is keeping you from moving into it for a few seconds as you go by me? What magic forces you to keep your tire on the right side of the painted line?
Be patient if you have to slow down for a bit to wait for the right moment to pass. I promise you, you won't lose more than a few seconds. Stop and enjoy your surroundings for a moment. It'll all be over soon.
And for the love of Pete, wait until you've completely passed us before you hit the accelerator. I jump so often when a driver hits the gas right beside me, assuming they've "cleared" me and can now race on ahead.
Don't worry about letting us know you're there. Believe me. We know.