Thick Skin

It’s not good to honk at a cyclist because, well, it’s startlingly loud:

Thick Skin

I can understand the need to communicate, but horns don’t do the trick. But even when some folks use their words, they don’t really do much better…

Thick Skin
So when find myself the target of horns or yells, I simply don’t respond.

Thick Skin

They’re not looking for a reasonable conversation. And engaging with them might make it worse. I don’t really want to see how unreasonable things could go.

After all, does this ever happen?

Thick Skin
So I try to let it go.

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  • Quincyclist September 20, 2012   Reply →

    I try to ignore the few horns directed to me; it’s too easy to get worked up and lower oneself to the honker’s angry plane. On the bright side, it does mean that s/he’s seen me so I am not going to get hit by that car. Sometimes one can tell tone/volume variation by how the horn is hit – an impatient horn vs. what is meant to be a friendly (albeit usually unnecessary) warning.

    I wish cars were equipped so that the horn was just as loud inside and the lights flashed outside; one could then identify the honker who is often anonymous in stopped traffic. Then (oh fantasy!) the police would be there, see the offender and cite him or her for unnecessary honking.

    On our part, the same goes to how aggressively or lightly we ring our bells when warning pedestrians on shared paths that we are approaching from the rear.

  • Rebecca Olds September 20, 2012   Reply →

    Struck a chord as the London Cycling Campaign recently posted this:
    Confound expectations!

    • bostonperson whohasbike September 24, 2012  

      whenever someone honks at me I honk like a goose back at them.

  • el timito September 20, 2012   Reply →

    You know why cows wear bells, right?
    Their horns don’t work.

  • Ryan Surface September 20, 2012   Reply →

    I agree that the “zen way” is the way to play it on the road. I am fortunate not too see much road rage while on the bike.

    Perhaps because I am a Clydesdale (albeit a gentle one) I don’t get alot of comments from drivers or perhaps its because I live in the uber polite Seattle area or maybe a combination. Then again maybe its the “Escaped Mental Patient” emblazoned on the back of my T shirt???

  • James September 20, 2012   Reply →

    But provoking rude drivers is so much fun.

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  • Paul Schimek September 21, 2012   Reply →

    “Ex wife got car”
    Search for it here:

  • David September 21, 2012   Reply →

    “Oh Really? Wow. I took drivers ed when I was 16”.

    That should read, “Oh Really? Wow. I (he’s) had his head up his @$$ since I was 16.

    Yesterday I had an Edgartown MA highway vehicle behind me laying on the horn and I was doing the speed limit.

  • Ben September 21, 2012   Reply →

    I always look at it as if the vehicle honks, then I know for sure they see me, and I don’t have to worry about them being a danger anymore.

  • BikingBill September 22, 2012   Reply →

    I never get honked at (daily bike commuter) … but I look like a football player.

    Other large riders report the same thing.

  • KittyKat September 23, 2012   Reply →

    In the city where I live in Sweden, some crazy young men (it’s always young men) actually will try to run you over if you get in their way while on a bike. Kind of scary. I also got sprayed on purpose the other day with windshield wiper fluid, for taking the lane, and not letting him get by before some roadwork…. He sped past me after the obstacle, very close, while spraying me…. Nice.

  • Liz September 24, 2012   Reply →

    Wow. It’s like you read my mind with this comic. I’m feeling particularly vulnerable because of an experience I had the other day with a driver and his friend and their verbal abuses, that scared the pants off of me because of it’s similarity to an incident I had in May. At that time, my taking the lane SO enraged a driver that he zoomed by my, pulled in front of me, and then slammed on his brakes in what I could only see as an attempt to cause me to collide with the back of his truck…. I have no idea what caused you to write about this now, but I really appreciate reading the comments and feeling like I’m not alone. Because the odd person that almost accidentally hits you is one thing, and people who nearly do so out of rage are another type altogether. The mean ones can really stick with you if you don’t “try to let it go”.

  • dr2chase September 24, 2012   Reply →

    Those conversations don’t usually go well, so on the bike I tend to keep a low profile.

    One thing that’s important to know is that a horn is legally (many jurisdictions) a SAFETY device, for alerting you of a hazard that you might not have noticed. This is important when you are driving a car, because they are so big and heavy and dangerous. So, if you are driving, and someone honks to alert you about an unknown hazard, what can you do, but slow down, maybe even stop, till you figure out what the danger is? To do otherwise would be irresponsible, right? So when I am driving and I hear a horn, ANY horn, I slow down.

    Safety first!

  • Andrew Krejci September 25, 2012   Reply →

    I ignore short single honks. Anything longer, or any verbal comments denying me my right to use the road, gets reported to police. Having a thick skin helps, but getting the police call the motorist to stop the harassment is even better.

    • Robert September 30, 2012  

      Andrew: The police don’t call; they are just being nice to you. Honking incidents aren’t high on their priority list.

      An acquaintance was the victim of an intentional vehicular assault (accompanied by horn) that caused him to crash, with resulting injuries. Other than his injuries, he had no evidence and no witnesses stopped to help. Even after prociding the plate number of the vehicle, police refused to pursue the matter, as there was no evidence the motorist did anything wrong, and no physical contact was made.

    • Connor October 21, 2012  

      In August (On the 18th) I was struck by a car in Orange County, CA. The car intentionally passed me on a 25MPH road at about 40MPH (I was doing the speed limit, maybe a bit above.) and passed so closely that his “I’m hammered extendo-mirror” from a F^%KING TRUCK that was bolted to his honda hit me and sent me into a curb and a tree simultaneously. I proceeded to curse in agony for 30-45 seconds, while a load of people just watched, didn’t ask if I was okay, then I got up and went idiot-hunting. I ran into him at a Starbucks a week later and he said (and I quote!) “You non-car driving pleb, you should kill yourself.” when I asked him “Do you remember striking me with your car two miles from here exactly 7 days ago?”

      My question to you guys is: I recently found out this guy lives close to me and I see him often. Police have refused to do anything (went to PD with plate number, explained what happened, they said they have no witness etc) and he verbally assaults me if he passes me, should I get a helmet cam to record the idiots for the police?

      Cagers annoy me sometimes. BTW I’m 16 years old and follow all state laws regarding cyclists (When it’s 4AM and nobody’s around ill run a stop sign but whatever)

  • Serra October 8, 2012   Reply →

    After experiencing bike rage (me going off at cars, usually after avoiding death by them by a whisker) I have decided that where necessary, I will let the person know as calmly as possible, as me yelling or making throat cutting gestures is really not helpful. I have also started waving and smiling thanks to car drivers who do treat me like another vehicle- I figure rewarding for good habits is better than being seen yelling at the idiots- because people just see another angry, crazy cyclist, and I end up stressed out.

  • heather October 20, 2012   Reply →

    Honking is a peeve of mine. Also, many people who know me will honk and wave thinking I can see them. Later if I see them they are like “you look so serious biking! I waved didn’t you see me?” I live in a rural area, so do recognize people and their cars, but as you know when biking and busy concentrating you do not have time to look up and do not always see that it’s your buddy honking at you. But even ruder are the young drivers, generally boys who will yell, hurl insults, scream, throw stuff etc. That throws my concentration so much. The yelling and honking actually scares me, makes my heart pound. When riding on the highway I cling to the shoulder or bike lane, but in town or on rural roads with no shoulder I have to ride in traffic and boy it’s all I can do not to have a stroke. From years of commuting I understand and know why cyclists can get testy and angry. When possible, I try to take the lane and be an example of the law, but usually am to chicken and cower on the side of the road. :(

  • Ivan March 31, 2013   Reply →

    There’s so much honking in NYC that I honestly don’t know whether they are honking at me, so I just filter it out.

  • BT April 6, 2014   Reply →

    I carry an airhorn in my waterbottle cage, works wonders when you catch up to a rude driver and blast it into their car.

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