Ride Friday: Why motorcyclists don't honk
cager") then you might not have noticed, but the motorcyclists on the road rarely honk at you — especially when you’re trying to kill us. I only mention this after a conversation I had with a coworker. I noted that the more grievous the attempt at bodily harm was by a cager, the less likely it was for a honk to be returned. This is completely contrary from cage on cage action where horns are activity #1 in any incident.
Let’s take a quick look at cars, specifically when you make evasive maneuvers. If you are swerving out of the way, you generally use two hands, but it isn’t required. That leaves one hand free to smash the horn on the steering wheel. In the cases of hard breaks, it’s almost a natural relation to hit and hold the horn — in the “brace yourself for impact” mentality. You’re also, in most cases jamming a foot onto the brake pedal, again in the same “brace” mentality.
The key strength of a bike is speed and agility. So once the first few milliseconds have elapsed and you’ve escaped the initial portion of the death threat, you’re switching over to accelerating. The right hand is releasing the brake and grabbing the throttle. Your left hand is clutching out. Both of your feet are freed up though. Also, if you swerved heavily, you probably need to wrench the handle bars and throw your weight back the other direction to get yourself back onto a safe path.
All of those actions took place in what is generally less than one or two seconds. In case it hasn’t become obvious yet, the motorcyclist in this picture is very busy. This is also why bikes are more dangerous, because you need to have your shit together and make all of these actions work together, at the same time, in just a split second. So back to the question at hand, why don’t motorcyclists honk?
We’re too damn busy. If I’m riding and someone tries to kill me, by the time I’m not busy enough to warrant finding the horn button, I’m long gone. The only time I actually do honk at cagers is when they aren’t that much of a threat to me, or they are simply being obnoxious (like failing to check your mirrors before making a lane change). Half the time when I do honk, the cagers don’t get it anyways, so why bother?