Thursday, September 23, 2010

Honk If You Like Runners

Being an early morning runner, one thing that baffles me is the desire of drivers to honk. Who has the energy or hearing capacity for that kind of noise first thing in the morning? And what exactly is a honker trying to communicate at 5:37 a.m. with that loud blast of noise directed at me?

Well I have some theories. And I’ve narrowed it down to three types of honkers (although understanding these people is still beyond me).

The Hurried Honker

This horn blower is the person who is in a hurry and perceives that you (the runner) are in their way. This is confusing when I am on a sidewalk or in bike lane that is almost as wide as the driving lane. But let’s just say I am running along the side of a road with the traffic. First of all, I am facing traffic and if there is a shoulder, I will move over to let cars get around me easily. Second, I have begun wearing blinky lights when I think this will be an issue so that all oncoming cars have time to see that they are approaching something in the road ahead (this assumes they are not texting or applying eye shadow while eating a breakfast burrito). I am usually poised and ready to take a dive if said car is, in fact, not watching for me.

So, let’s assume again that the oncoming car sees me and there is no shoulder so they are going to have to slow up and go around me. OH HORROR OF HORRORS! Slow down? Be patient? No way! Forget it! These drivers are important people and it is imperative that they reach their destination pronto. I have noticed this mentality while being a driver myself, so it is not only with runners and cyclists that drivers get annoyed. It is with other drivers who may be in their way. The arrogance here…but I’ll step off the soapbox.

The Hopeful Honker

This sound blaster is the person who thinks runners are hot (aka good looking, attractive, sexy, whatever) and decides to let them know by honking. These are often trucks of some sort – working trucks, utility trucks, produce trucks, etc. – who are out making the morning rounds and deliveries. I want to poke them in the eyeballs AFTER giving them a good strong whiff of just how wonderful I smell. I am sweaty, I am sticky, and my hair is usually sticking out of my visor in all directions. I may or may not have morning breath, and I know for a fact I stink and not just a little. You really want a piece of this? I think not. Nor is honking and letting me know that from a good distance I look attractive going to get you or I anywhere. It is just plain loud and annoying, and makes me feel slightly violent.

(I would also put high school students who think it is cool to scare runners in this category).

The Happy Honker

These honkers are the ones who know the runner and they want to say hey. I guess I can’t really get annoyed with these, as most of them are my friends but…if it could wait until you next see me or for an e-mail later that day, that would be a better choice. Whether it is a friendly honk or not, it still makes me jump out of my skin.

That may be an over simplification of all the drivers out there, but there it is anyway. I know, by writing this, I will not be able to change most of the drivers who communicate unnecessarily with a loud blast of noise, but since dodging drivers will always be part of the running experience (for city dwellers, at least), I have recorded it as I see it.

For runners, I would suggest facing traffic if you must be out in it. Wear lights and reflective clothing if you think it will be dark (or any hour near it). Never assume a driver will see you or give you the right of way. My mom always said she would not run in front of a car unless she could see the white of their eyes (but even then, you have no idea if they are going to assume you will stop or not). I’ve almost been run over by a police car with no blinker when he was turning right so…no driver is exempt from suspicion.

So good luck to all my fellow runners who brave the streets every day. Be watchful and be safe. There are people in cars.


  1. I like your blog. I like YOU! And I even like honkers. I always wave and assume they are honking for some positive reason..telling me "way to go" or "you look great" or "I wish I were doing that." So it is about perspective, I guess. I count honks and smile when I get several. However, I am not a beautiful model, I am just an old lady with gray hair and poor posture so I know it is nothing slimy. It's what you get for being so beautiful and shapely and fast! I love you! Mom

  2. Ha! Well, that is certainly a new perspective. You nut! Thanks, Ma.

  3. AMEN!!! It's not just that it scares me and I'm annoyed by that, but I have instinctively jumped away from the loud noise right off the sidewalk into a hole I wasn't prepared to dodge and rolled my ankle so many times I lose count. And loud, unexpected noises give me a near heart-attack!! :) I'm with you... even if it's a Happy Honker... PAH-LEEZE send me an email when you get to work!

    And you know... those Happy Honkers are so proud of themselves too... when I see them later on, they CANNOT wait to tell me, "Hey, did you hear me honk at you this morning?" I want to reply, "Yes, and did you see me nearly fall down because of it"... but I don't say that :)


  4. Ha! Loved this blog. It scares me, too. You would be proud of me...when I see a runner I know I don't honk. But this morning, I rolled the windows down and let the kids scream, "HIIIII" to Dan when we saw him running through the neighborhood. Hope it didn't frighten him :)

  5. Shannon, that is hilarious. I have rolled down my window to say hey to my runnin' gals a time or two, but I gave them time to see me first. :) I wouldn't mind your kids yelling hiiiiii at me! :)

  6. This is hilarious, and soooo true! I don't know how you hit the nail on the head with all of your topics! It was so fun to analyze the honk the girls and I got on Saturday's run and to put it into its correct category (the hopeful honker--urg!).
    Loved our run this morning but not the rain!