Curbed and A Test of Will are carrying photos of a construction project at Broadway and John Street. These photos reminded me of an incident on Saturday morning as I was returning home from photographing 66 Leonard Street and 380 Lafayette Street for the ever-expanding Hardenbergh architectural database.
I was cycling down congested Broadway. Just past City Hall, the traffic had to wait as one of the trucks you can see in the pictures was making a left-hand turn, with great difficulty, onto John Street. Then I had the following conversation.
HOOOOONK HOOOOOOONK. HONK. HONK.
I turned around to see a cabby talking on his cell phone, obviously too busy to pay attention to the affect his actions would have on the world around him.
“Hey! What’s the point of honking like that?”
“Did I honk at you, bro?”
“No, but it annoys everybody, not just that guy.”
“He knows he’s not supposed to turn like that.”
A-HA! So the cabby was jolting scores of pedestrians out of their socks and annoying who knows how many people in the adjacent buildings because an overworked guy driving a super-noisy, eight-ton truck loaded with lumber that was destined for the exact spot where he was maneuvering would understand that he wasn’t supposed to be turning like that. Either that, OR the cabby was just upset he wasn’t moving faster than he would be in the car commercials.
Here are the problems with honking, as I see them:
- As a monotone blast, it fails to communicate any actual information.
- It annoys many people who are not the intended recipient of the transmission.
- It shows that drivers forget that many of the people within earshot are not ensconced in metal-and-glass exoskeletons.
- It rarely makes anybody go any faster.
My ever-innovative friend Gary says that all cabbies should be given a honkometer, which would charge cabbies X cents for every honk after a certain threshold is passed each month. They can still do it in cases of severe emergency (because there are always those times when you see someone darting in front of the cab and would rather hit the horn than the brakes), but they would simply know they are being charged.
Is there any reason this idea wouldn’t work?