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People who honk because they want you to move over

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People who honk because they want you to move over

Old 01-17-20, 04:46 PM
  #1  
denada
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People who honk because they want you to move over

i'm somewhat open to the possibility of being wrong.

sometimes when i am riding down a two lane road -- one lane each way -- with cars parallel parked down the sides and no bike lane, a car will honk at me as it approaches behind me because it wants me to move over toward the parallel parked cars. so it can drive by without being close to me or oncoming traffic. that they can go fast enough to pass means this is not a high traffic road, as soon as i'm in the heavy grid of downtown i'm not the slow factor. when the parallel parked cars are sporadic i'll swerve in a touch when the opportunity presents -- while trying not to give up my line. when it's a constant line of parked cars, i don't move in when they honked. i'm not claiming the lane but i'm riding comfortably-full door out, so if one opened i wouldn't swerve or hit it.

am i right to ignore the honking car? i don't mean siting behind me honking; it's chicago the honk as they go. everyone is honking. but if a car honks to indicate its approach, i feel i do not have a choice to move to the right, they are in the wrong and just don't know about the concept of being doored, and they have to wait a second for a car to not be coming the other direction. i figure they might be a tourist, local-ish but from the surrounding area and don't know quite all of city driving etiquette, or a paid driver putting on a show for their fare. or someone who is wrong and rude. or someone honking to honk, because that's a thing here.

or am i not thinking of something? thanks.

Last edited by denada; 01-17-20 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 01-17-20, 05:18 PM
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I've only been to Chicago four or five times and have no clue what the drivers are like. Oh yeah, forgot--I did breifly live there for a couple of months. Totally forgot. But still, I don't know about honking there.

Compared to other cities I have lived in (NY, Boston, ATL, to a name a few) the honking situation in this town is nonexistent. Not bashing on Californians, I love California, but I do think expat LA and Bay Area people are more accustomed to their horns than folks are around here. That said, I gave up trying to figure drivers out a long time ago. I have no idea what they are all about.

That said, I was riding in a bike lane two mornings ago in the dark, cruising along at about 22 mph, when this huge SUV pulls along me, slows down, and opens the passenger window. I'm thinking I am about to get yelled at. Instead, this voice hollers: "Hey, man! I love your taillight!"
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Old 01-17-20, 06:28 PM
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I grew up in Chicago.

If they are honking at you, it means they aren't trying to kill you, which is a big plus.

Either do nothing, or wave. When I (frequently) flipped people off, they didn't appreciate it.
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Old 01-17-20, 08:48 PM
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Meh - some people just like honking. I get honked at all the time and generally ignore it. Some people feel like cyclists are inconveniencing their journey to the nearest red light. If the traffic is light enough to pass, they can be big kids and learn to pass. If the traffic is not light enough to pass, you'll probably catch them at the next stoplight anyhow.

If they honk, they can see you and they're paying attention. I take it as a good sign.
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Old 01-18-20, 09:17 AM
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Digger Goreman
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Generations, regions and prevailing attitudes make for confusion. At one time, long ago, I remember being taught to double toot to indicate I am passing another car while in a car. Over 40 years ago.... Now it seems passing the ludicrous test with a minimum score is the all in all.

For me, I maintain the predictability of taking my lane and NOT encouraging the hurried foolish to squeeze by.... They are welcome to perform a SAFE, legal pass in the other lane.
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Old 01-18-20, 09:43 AM
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Legally, there are two reasons to use a horn:

1. To avoid an accident.
2. To alert others to your presence when going around a blind turn.

As a means of expressing the directive "Get the hell out of my way or I will run you over!", it is not legally sanctioned driving activity.
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Old 01-18-20, 10:19 AM
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There's a guy on twitter I follow, he often goes up to the window of the driver that was honking at him, when they're stuck in the line of traffic that inevitably stops the car, usually about 10 meters down the road. This is generally how the discussion goes:

"Why were you hooting at me?"
"Because you were taking up the whole road, and delaying me!"
"Why don't you hoot at that guy right there? (Points to the car in front of them in the queue of cars.) They're holding you up a lot more, and they're taking up the whole road! Go on, hoot at them! Why aren't you hooting at them?"

That's usually when the driver rolls up the window,
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Old 01-18-20, 10:35 AM
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If parked cars are sporadic... one car a block or two (or perhaps a small group of cars)... then just tuck into the parking lane and ride, or let the cars behind you get past. Then when you have to pass a parked car, look back, signal, and move over. You can adjust your speed some too.

Skimming along parked cars is a judgement call. In a residential neighborhood, many of the cars are parked for a very long time. Watch for activity around the cars, or in the cars, cars moving in our out, commercial vehicles, etc.

Commercial districts, and metered parking may be different, but often also have slower traffic.
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Old 01-18-20, 11:55 AM
  #9  
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Safest line is to hold your line (avoid being doored) and hold your fire (i.e. no fingers). When I pull up to cars (at the next light usually), I beam my headlight at them to get their attention and give them a pose/look of consternation and concern as they try to look away.....
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Old 01-18-20, 12:23 PM
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one honk, I wave. Second honk, wave and move over to the left 6". More honks, step 2 repeat as needed
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Old 01-18-20, 12:59 PM
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Nothing is worth getting doored for. Just suck it up and take the lane.
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Old 01-18-20, 02:13 PM
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If someone honks me, what usually happens is that I take the whole lane and start to ride slower.

I don't respect people who don't respect me.
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Old 01-18-20, 02:56 PM
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There are a few, old fashioned types, who were taught to honk when overtaking or to alert someone when they approached from behind. Some with a more country background will honk when they recognize you. But most I think are trying to intimidate you, to bully you out of the way. You can't always tell which it is.

I just give a wave, no finger even if I'm imagining it there. If I think about it I'll look around in an exaggerated manner, try a goofy grin and a big old wave and the payoff is that look of confusion (imagine them thinking, does this guy know me? Recognize me?). Since my primary rule is "don't engage the crazies", whatever action we decide on shouldn't be the one they expect. Anger, fear, obedience, confrontation, anything like that invites them to continue. Acting stupid or oblivious takes it all away from them.
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Old 01-18-20, 03:02 PM
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I just smile and wave. Drives them insane
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Old 01-18-20, 04:44 PM
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In my mind, the law is one thing... My life is another thing... No matter what the law says, are you in danger? If you are, move over (and show them the finger).
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Old 01-18-20, 04:53 PM
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I stay out of the way when riding. If I can't stay out of the way, I take the lane. For me, there's nothing in between. Honking doesn't change anything. Placing myself in a situation where I'm sorta taking the lane or sorta not taking the lane only creates confusion and dangerous confrontations. I'm either all in, or out of the way, and I do both with clear signaling and confidence. I do everything I can to remove all doubt as to my intentions.

I generally ignore the friendly toots and might wave for the longer "you're in my way" honks. I respond to the long, obnoxious "GET THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY" blasts by waving exuberantly accompanied with pointing and laughing. I always hold my line.


-Kedosto
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Old 01-19-20, 02:59 AM
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Originally Posted by ChinookTx View Post
In my mind, the law is one thing... My life is another thing... No matter what the law says, are you in danger? If you are, move over...
A veteran cyclist once phrased it this way to me “You can be in the right, and in the cemetery”

So yeah, if it’s safe(r) to move, do so, regardless of who’s ‘technically correct’.
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Old 01-19-20, 03:11 AM
  #18  
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5 1/2 hours on the bike tonight, half in the middle of nowhere country, half maybe in town. Zero shoulder in the country, so, I was out in the lane a bit the whole way. Passed by multiple trucks and cars. All were patient with me. Not a single one *****ed or honked. All gave super-wide berths. Very, very thoughtful of them, I thought.

As soon as I got back into PDX city limits, 2 guys just laid into their horns at me, again, presumably because I wasn't hugging the white line with its 4-inch shoulder full of glass and rocks and crap.

So, I guess city people are big fat jerks and country people are thoughtful and sweet. I dunno. Guess maybe I'll head back out there again. It was quite pleasant, riding the back roads to Mt. Hood.
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Old 01-19-20, 09:05 AM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post
5 1/2 hours on the bike tonight, half in the middle of nowhere country, half maybe in town. Zero shoulder in the country, so, I was out in the lane a bit the whole way. Passed by multiple trucks and cars. All were patient with me. Not a single one *****ed or honked. All gave super-wide berths. Very, very thoughtful of them, I thought.

As soon as I got back into PDX city limits, 2 guys just laid into their horns at me, again, presumably because I wasn't hugging the white line with its 4-inch shoulder full of glass and rocks and crap.

So, I guess city people are big fat jerks and country people are thoughtful and sweet. I dunno. Guess maybe I'll head back out there again. It was quite pleasant, riding the back roads to Mt. Hood.
"Every captain is a slave to his command."
The Grey Mouser

What we attach ourselves to, determines our stress. Cities do tend to be more stressful.

In another thread, the author stressed a "Don't worry, be happy" (?) attitude, as most of the time we arrive home, still on two/three wheels, with the cooperation of motorists. Agreed, in retrospect, and at the end of a successful ride. At the same time, just one angry/distracted bird riding a Rhino ("driver" in a vehicle) can merely graze you and take your life. In the desert lands they say, "Trust, yes, and tie up your camels!"

You've chosen the bike, as have I... now attend to every ymmv that will make you safe. I survived unsafe passes till someone reminded me of the motorcycle training I had, and the relative safety or taking the lane.... Yes, I trust in the good of humanity... AND I will tie up my camels
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Old 01-19-20, 10:14 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by denada View Post
i'm somewhat open to the possibility of being wrong.
This is the attitude that will keep you safe...regardless of the circumstances.

Overconfidence, or stubbornness can get you hurt, or worse. While it does take a certain level of confidence and assertiveness to bike safely in traffic, one should always be wondering, Is there anything that can be done to ride even more safely...including riding strategies, visibility strategies, and route choices.

Regarding the specific situation you mentioned...having a good mirror can help you better asses the situation behind you...is the car dangerously close behind? Is it closing at a high rate of speed? Are there vehicles backed up behind it that may "pressure" the driver.

I have just a couple of narrow stretches on my commute routes like what you described. I sometimes throw my my left hand out and down with the fingers out to signal, "wait" or "hold off". Sometimes I will scoop my left arm forward to say "go ahead...pass me."

Car doors can swing open at any time, even when a car has been sitting there in your view for blocks. It has happened to me a few times (only one close call), and the explanation was that person had parked and then was on the phone talking, texing, on the internet...etc. and then exited the vehicle after quite a while.

But sometimes "discretion is the better part of valor", that is, sometimes it is more prudent to yield or get out of the way when "sticking to your guns" may put you in peril. You can always temporarily slow down and pull right, which puts you in the "door zone" but slow enough to avoid or mitigate a dooring.

I have also found that I am bolder and more assertive on some streets than on others. Specifically, I am thinking of school-zones where more drivers seem to be in a rush, and less attentive as their focus is on things other than traffic. Also, there are some "rougher" neighborhoods where it seems like the drivers may be more inclined to take their life's frustrations out on other vehicles in traffic, or be more assertive than necessary, since small victories in traffic may be their only triumphs in life. Similarly, when riding in more affluent neighborhoods I find the drivers act as if they are more entitled than cyclists. In some of the more "socially progressive" neighborhoods I find more drivers unnecessarily yielding the right of way (nice-holes).

Ultimately, you will have to make this decisions yourself, but as I said at the top, your attitude of questioning yourself, and self-evaluation, puts you miles ahead of many bicyclists and drivers in terms of safety.
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Old 01-19-20, 10:16 AM
  #21  
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I usually move closer to the centre of the lane. If the car wants to pass me, he's going to have to change lanes and carefully pass just like what he would have to do passing other cars.
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Old 01-20-20, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
There are a few, old fashioned types, who were taught to honk when overtaking or to alert someone when they approached from behind. Some with a more country background will honk when they recognize you. But most I think are trying to intimidate you, to bully you out of the way. You can't always tell which it is.

I just give a wave, no finger even if I'm imagining it there. If I think about it I'll look around in an exaggerated manner, try a goofy grin and a big old wave and the payoff is that look of confusion (imagine them thinking, does this guy know me? Recognize me?). Since my primary rule is "don't engage the crazies", whatever action we decide on shouldn't be the one they expect. Anger, fear, obedience, confrontation, anything like that invites them to continue. Acting stupid or oblivious takes it all away from them.
Agree. Don't engage the crazy.


....BE the crazy!
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Old 01-20-20, 09:01 PM
  #23  
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When they honk that assures me that they see me and I'm safe. I still keep an eye on them of course, but it seems no one wants to hit me.

But, if you use a mirror and monitor it, you can give a quick look back as they approach. Then they know you know they are there, and are less likely to honk even when you hold your line in the lane for safety. In more tense situations where I absolutely think it's unsafe for them to pass, I'll issue a 'hold back' hand signal. It helps. But even if it doesn't and they go for it I have buffer to my right to glide into for more space. It's beautiful how it all works.
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Old 01-21-20, 07:00 AM
  #24  
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People who honk because they want you to move over
Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
When they honk that assures me that they see me and I'm safe. I still keep an eye on them of course, but it seems no one wants to hit me.

But, if you use a mirror and monitor it, you can give a quick look back as they approach. Then they know you know they are there, and are less likely to honk even when you hold your line in the lane for safety. In more tense situations where I absolutely think it's unsafe for them to pass, I'll issue a 'hold back' hand signal. It helps.

But even if it doesn't and they go for it I have buffer to my right to glide into for more space. It's beautiful how it all works.
10+ for use of a mirror, and I may use a “hold back” signal, but I never wave them though.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
...Anyways, when I signal a car behind me for an avoidance maneuver (rather than a full stop), I usually extend my left hand downwards and slightly outwards, less than 90°, palm facing the driver. I think of it as a “Whoa” signal.
Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
Cyclists may "think" cryptic hand signals are "interpreted" correctly by approaching motorists but would be smart not to depend on it. My advice is to follow ItsJustMe's advice in Msg 10 and avoid the results from the likely possibility that approaching motorists won't have a clue to what you are waving your hand about.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I agree that a cyclist should not depend on hand signals, and not even eye contact, unless maybe accompanied by a hand signal from the driver.

Nonetheless, any signal from the cyclist might be an adjunct to warn the driver. For me, it's also a reflex action.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I have posted frequently about the drivers that pass me,either to curse or bless them (link), depending on the pass, but mostly ignore them. I don’t particularly acknowledge drivers behind me either, but monitor them with my mirrors. I recall posting that I don’t direct drivers to pass me, or hold up, but leave it up to them.

When I take the lane, I use a tactic of catch and release, i.e when about 20-30 feet behind, I shift right if possible and release the lane, with a wave of acknowledgement, kind of a “preemptory blessing.”
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
"Taking the Lane"

I don’t direct motorists either, e.g by waving around, except perhaps for those “niceholes” who yield to cyclists, often disregarding the surrounding traffic.

FWIW. I have posted my position on taking the lane(especially as a form of “non-directing’ communication”),

Regarding the question of taking the lane, I’ve always felt it is a question of pragmatism,though I probably too obsequiously favor keeping the drivers happy by staying FRAP...

I also like your strategy of gently nudging towards the center, then relenting towards the right. And I always give a wave to the cooperative driver, either before or after their pass.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 01-21-20 at 07:12 AM.
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Old 01-21-20, 12:40 PM
  #25  
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Steady as she goes: hold your line.

I figure people who honk are either letting me know, "Hey, I recognize you!" or "I'm an idiot!" There are far more of the latter than the former.
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