Tuesday, October 5

Honking Commute Year

I’ve been tracking commute-related honking for a full year now. Over that time, I was honked at either on the way to or from work a total of eight times. In nearly 4000 commute miles, four honks were on the morning commute and four were on the way home. Four honks were on roads where passing is common, though technically illegal (double yellow lines). Two honks were on multilane roads that had light traffic at the time of the honk. Three honks occurred on Wednesdays, and two each on Tuesdays and Fridays. Seasonally, it’d be hard to pick a pattern, except honks occurred most often in late August and September, suggesting that some connection with “school is in session” might exist, though only one honk was received anywhere near a school, and that one was well before traffic built up around that school.

The only road where more than one honk occurred was eastbound Westport Parkway, between I35W and Old Denton Road. This segment is a two-lane road in which it is legal to pass a cyclist or other slow-moving traffic, and which has no bike lane, path, or sidewalk anywhere near it. I was never honked at on the Alliance Gateway Freeway or Highway 377 in Keller, nor on any residential street or multi-use path.

The furthest I commuted without a honk was 1120 miles, and the shortest distance between commute honks was 80 miles. Ironically, one of the short spells was followed by the longest one.

Five of the honkers drove pickups. Two of those pickups were white. Three honkers had stickers in their back windows, including two of the pickup honkers. I was able to determine the honker sex in five cases. Two were male, two were female, and one was a honker couple with a male driver.

In all honesty, I’d be hard pressed to claim that more than half of the honks were associated with any aggressive intent at all. While my estimate of how long following honkers may have been held up might be open to question, six of the honks were from people held up for an estimated three seconds or less. In the case of the other two, neither had any safe place to pull over for a cyclist, and neither motorist seemed to honk aggressively.

Cyclist Bias
My route evolved to get me to and from work quickly, without adding undue stress. Route evolution was largely complete prior to the report period and no major route changes took place in the report period. The route involves few roads with shoulders, and doesn’t generally involve long slow stretches where a following motorist might have difficulty in passing. The morning route takes advantage of lighter traffic, and is about a half mile shorter as a result.


RANTWICK said...

Pickup trucks... hmmm. My experience too, but what is the ratio of pickups to other passenger vehicles in DFW vs London Ontario? Loved this post. You are insane. In a good way.

Chandra said...

Nice Statistics!!

In the last month or so, I was honked at by only the driver of one vehicle. It was a younger male in a Land Rover :(

But then, I get honked at because I don't drive my truck like a maniac. So, the heck with honkers LOL!

Peace :)

limom said...

You sir, take your honking seriously!

John Romeo Alpha said...

"I’ve been tracking commute-related honking for a full year now." In a spreadsheet? honking.xls? With columns for vehicle make, model, color, and gender of honker? For a year? Steve you are my hero.

Steve A said...

Andy Cline of Carbon Trace was my inspiration. The spreadsheet just helps me keep track of something that happens infrequently in an organized fashion rather than my memory focusing on particular incidents and generalizing them. Over a period of years, patterns would begin to evolve into testable hypotheses. It also helps pass the miles.

Hugh said...

I drive a pick-up. But it is a compact Ranger XLT with a "Share the Road" bumper-sticker. What concerns me is this. The last time I got an "angry honk" the offender was driving a white pick-up. So much for the good guys always wearing white. I guess it only applies to hats(:

Khal said...

Neale Pickett (a co-author on the LA Bikes blog) has also commented that when he actually tracked aggressive or obnoxious motorist behavior, it was actually quite rare.

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