A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

On bike safety: Honking doesn’t help

Written October 4th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

A mirror on your bike can keep you from turning in front of a vehicle coming up from behind.

On the bike the other day, I stuck out my left arm after not seeing anyone behind me and turned left. This earned me an angry honk from the driver whose vehicle I had not seen and who, I’m glad to say, missed me by a few yards.

The experience caused me to buy a mirror and install it on the bike I ride around town. It also reminded me of a brief exchange at a recent meeting of the Albany City Council.

Councilman Mike Sykes complained about reckless and dangerous behavior by people on bikes and wondered if anything could be done.

He had a point. It’s not unusual to see riders, usually male, more or less on the young side, wheeling their way through traffic without regard for life and limb, their own or anybody else’s. They run red lights. They ride on the wrong side of the street, against traffic. You wonder how they have survived as long as they have.

Can anything be done? If so, I don’t know what. The law is never around when you see one of these guys. Even if a cop managed to catch up with and stop him, what good would a ticket do for someone who lives with no concern for rules?

As for my situation on Salem Avenue the other day, I didn’t intend to cause the driver to have to hit the brake. (If he did; he may have been too busy hitting the horn instead.) I had not seen him coming up behind me, even though I looked.

So now, with the mirror installed, I’m hoping to be better equipped to prevent this from happening again. But may I also suggest: When I’m in the truck and coming up behind a cyclist in the bike lane on a busy road, I slow down and move over a little in case the guy does something I have no reason to expect. (hh)

Posted in: Commentary

11 responses to “On bike safety: Honking doesn’t help”

  1. Terry says:

    Great suggestions Hasso!
    Too bad a great deal of bike riders aren’t as careful and aware as yourself. I don’t think I’m alone in saying the reckless and dangerous behavior mentioned in you article is more common than you think.
    Law enforcement absolutely should begin issuing tickets to bike riders who violate the law. It’s called lights, siren and PA. Instruct them to pull over and the process begins.
    If there are no consequences why change bad behavior?
    As for honking a horn, how else would one get the attention of another vehicle (including bikes) in an effort to avoid an accident?

  2. Dave says:

    You are spot on about the (mostly) young, (mostly) male bike riders who ride as if the world is their banana to peel, so too speak. Just in case you’re wondering, I am an old f**t who also rides a bicycle (with a mirror), rides a motorcycle, and drives a car.

    I suggest it would be good for all motorists to read the section in the 2018-19 Oregon Driver Manual, pg 38 to 40, on Bicycles (What is a Bike Box? A sharrow? etc.) and bicyclists should also read the Oregon Bicyclist Manual. Bicyclist/motorist courtesy is not only just courtesy, it is also common sense and it is the Law!

  3. tom cordier says:

    Your blog betrays your headline. The honk caused you to install a mirror.
    Honk was helpful.

  4. L Farnam says:

    I have certainly had drivers come up behind me and honk for no reason at all (other than, perhaps, pure malice). All that does is startle the begeezus out of me, making me more unsafe. Some drivers just can’t stand the idea that bikes have any right to be on the road.

  5. Bob says:

    Mirrors help keep us safe. Why would any cyclist not use them?

  6. Curious Citizen says:

    I need a mirror for my bike too.

    Maybe the driver of the truck was just being nasty.

    Thanks for the article!

    • centrist says:

      I don’t know of any other way to get the attention of a bicyclist.
      The car-driver isn’t sure if the peddler is aware of the car or in an endorphin ecstasy. The peddler isn’t sure if the car-driver is patient or a nut looking for a brushoff.

  7. Jacobin Hanschlatter says:

    It seems patently obvious from the comments made this far; bicycles have no business on public roadways. By Hering’s own admission, many bicyclists flout the canons of traffic safety. Perhaps the City Council, in it’s wisdom, could pass new legislation banning bikes before the problem grows more problematic.


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