On the Horned Vehicle

I�m a hypocrite. There. Out of the way. I have bell on my bike. I use it. Cars have horns. I hate them. Having biked in city for a while, I feel like they serve no meaningful purpose.
A while back, I was biking on northbound on 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, Sunset Park-ish. It�s about 7 am on a Sunday. Not exactly rush hour. I�m in the right hand side of the right lane, next to the lane of parked cars. There are two more lanes of traffic to left of me that are open. Not one, two.
(graphic from www.cogapa.com)
I hear a car honking behind me. I think it can�t be me. I�m on the right side, not taking the whole lane. Even if I were, there are two more open lanes next to me. I look back, and sure enough, it�s just my lucky day. It�s a woman in a lonely Honda right behind me, with hardly any other cars to keep it company, honking at me. I turn my head back to the road in front of me and keep going. It honks again. I ignore. Go around me if you don�t like having me in front of you. It honks again. This time I look back over my shoulder and flip the bird. That seems to provoke a series of honks. I now turn back again and display a hearty bird (think Johnny Cash at San Quentin). More honking. And now, she�s giving me a gesture that I need to move over further to the right out of her way. I�ve had enough. I�m about halfway through a block and the light ahead of me has just turned red. I come to a stop, dismount my bike and in one continual motion pick it up as I�m turning around to confront her. I was so boiling with rage that my picking up the bike motion resulted in actually a swinging it around and lifting it high in the air, as if I was going to hurl the old bike at her car. I didn�t. But, I got yet angrier as her response to my asking "What�s your f-ing problem?" was to again give me the "move over" gesture while mouthing "move over." I really wanted to hurl my bike now. But, I also wanted to be able to finish biking home and not end up in jail. So, instead, I went back to the lab, crunched some numbers, ran a few simulations, let's see, square the hypotenuse, carry the one, put the Eigenvalues into the Hamiltonian, and solve for x. Bam! I came up with a solution to this very complicated problem: "Just f-ing drive around me!" I yelled. I made a similar "move over" gesture to what she gave me, but in the other direction.
Should horns be ripped out of cars altogether? With my recent experience, I�d like to volunteer to take them out of every car in the city by hand. The fact is there�s very little evidence to suggest that horns actually help prevent accidents. See this Slate story for an interesting look on the matter. Most horn use I see in the city is out of aggression, or less frequently, to try to warn others of impending aggression. In most emergency situations, horns aren�t used, because you only have time and focus to use the brakes or wheel in an evasive maneuver. But the aggressive driver may argue that, "Hey, I�m hell-bent on barreling at 50-mph down this narrow street, so I honk my horn just to make sure no one is caught off guard and gets in my way. I�m saving lives with my horn, dammit!" The only problem is, with all the aggressive nonsensical honking, it�s impossible tell while walking down the street which honk is a background I�m-late-and-tired-and-hot-and-aggravated-that-I�m-sitting-in-traffic-holy-crap-I-can�t-believe-there�s-traffic-in-New-York-City-at-5-o�clock honk versus a I-should-dive-headlong-into-the shrubs honk.
The last time I had a car its horn didn�t work. Never got around to fixing it. And you know, the one time I actually noticed its absence was when I was pissed off at the guy in front of me. Shame on me.

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