One of the main problems of cyclists is the distracted driver. Texting, applying makeup, arguing with passengers, etc. All of these activities mean the driver may not notice you there in the right of the lane as they abruptly cut you off to make a turn. No matter how good a rider YOU are, there will always be "the other guy" who is less concerned about traffic safety. Considering a car has a couple of tons of protection going for it, many people feel they are well shielded from accidents. As compared to us cyclists, they pretty much are.
However, it is time to level the playing field just a bit. You really need to have a serious horn on your bike. A dring-dring bell may be cute but it often goes unnoticed as most motorists think it's just the ice cream man coming along. You need to be a bit more aggressive. I wanted a very loud electronic horn that would not take up tons of space on my handlebars and be easy to activate when needed. After a bit of searching, I found the Megalert Megahorn Bike Horn sold by Industrial Bicycles
The salesman told me these were sold to accompany the industrial trikes they manufactured for work in loud warehouses and factories. These horns are blaring enough to be heard above the din of machinery and industrial noise. Very important especially when whizzing around blind factory corners. The Megalert is also sold to and used by many police departments across the U.S. At 105 db, unless you're totally deaf, you will definitely hear it. It blew me off the bike when I first used it! Hey if it's good enough for the police, it's perfect for me. The same 9 volt battery has been in the horn for about 3 years now but it's plenty loud and surely beats screaming. The case is watertight and the unit itself only weighs 3 ozs.
The Megalert mounts easily on your handle bars, taking up very little space and is button activated. The battery is housed inside the horn's case. When riding through an intersection, (one of the most dangerous places for cyclists), I have my finger lightly resting on the button ready to blast. A 3 year old 9 volt battery attests to the fact that I don't use it THAT much but it has indeed saved me many times. Drivers would have pulled out of side streets and t-boned me and my riding companions or run me down in the local Target parking lot. I always yell some sort of instructive comment but this horn is way louder than I am, (most days anyway). You really need to assert yourself out there. Very empowering to get the (surprised) attention of drivers. Here are a few safe riding tips I've learned over the past 25 years or so:
1. Don't be afraid to "take the lane". It is legal in all 50 states. Ride in the right third of the roadway. It is easier to be seen and safer for drivers to properly wait to pass instead of trying to squeeze by.
2. Make eye contact! Very important at intersections especially. Don't move till you see the whites of their eyes.
3. Bright clothing and flashing lights that are bright enough for daytime use will help a lot. See our post on Bike Lights and Reflective Wear for some up to date ideas.
4. Get a loud electric horn. If you are too cycle chic for an electronic horn, at least have a loud enough bell. Large rotary bells are a good place to start.
|My 3 watt headlight is set on flashing for daytime riding.|
The bottom line? People are idiots out there. Nothing is 100% foolproof but taking a few measures like these will go a long way to helping keep you safe out on the roads and bike paths.
So what do you think? What types of bike horns or bells do you have on your bicycle if any? We'd like to know if you've heard anything louder than 105 db. We've seen the Air Zound which is a pump loaded air horn that attaches to a bottle. Does anyone have it?