Search the Site

From the Comments: Lay Off the Fake Car Horns


In response to our post about our Prius/”conspicuous conservation” podcast, a reader named Fred writes in to say:

If you did an analysis on your listenership, I’m pretty sure you’d find, in common with most podcasts, that consumers of audio are more likely than not mobile. Old time radio’s image of the rocking chair next to a wireless the size of a substantial piece of furniture is outdated. With podcasts especially, people are more likely to strap on their choice of pod, and listen whilst jogging, StairMastering, cycling, commuting –- it’s a very mobile listenership.
Most podcasters realised this, and when talking travel, transport or cars in particular do not use the hackneyed, clichéed, passé and superfluous sound of a car horn. For the reason that it is unmuffled by earbuds or car windows, it comes directly into the ear and announces forcibly that you are jogging or cycling into danger.
I was cycling down the east coast of Thailand, on a straight, flat road, palm trees swinging ever-so-gently, the Gulf of Thailand just to my left, sparkling delightfully just beyond the white beach to my left, just hit a nice rhythm, got into top gear and was pretty much in the zone. My iPod was playing the “Hey Baby, Is That a Prius You’re Driving?” episode, interested in the “conspicuous conservation” concept –- when your podcast had a completely unnecessary car horn blast that shattered my peace, and very nearly shocked me into an accident. Fuck you. Don’t do that.

To which a reader named MattNYC replies:

Uh, Fred…
You’re not supposed to wear headphones –- certainly not both –- when riding. What if that horn had been real? Or a car (a nice super- quiet Prius) was behind you and you had no idea because you were oblivious to anything else?

I have to say, I see both arguments as valid. Good feedback all around. And, FWIW, the U.S. may require electric-car manufacturers to make their quiet engines noisier so that hearing-impaired pedestrians (and headphone-wearing cyclists, like Fred) will know they’re coming.